As you may have heard, this month the UK Government has announced plans to scrap tolls on both Severn crossings by the end of 2018, with both Severn crossings returning to public ownership. Currently, monthly tickets range from £117.92 for small cars to £396 for large vehicles, which means that a daily commute sets you back over £1400 per year for the smallest category of vehicle.
The announcement that the Government will scrap what has been described as a ‘tax on Wales’by the end of next year will be seen as a positive move by many. The move is set to boost Welsh economy by an estimated £100m a year, and is expected to increase tourism and business in the region. As an independent business that regularly works in Wales, this is certainly a consideration and I welcome the scrappage of tolls for my business as it makes the Welsh market even more appealing.
As I alluded to above, trade is likely to be the big winner, with many English-based companies starting to see Wales as a more profitable proposition. Wales is currently experiencing a huge resurgence -it’s a country brimming over with confidence, and major cities such as Cardiff, Swansea and Newport are seeing really interesting commercial and industrial growth, making them attractive to national and global companies. There is still a large gap between urban and rural areas in Wales, and there’s a huge opportunity to invest in the Valleys and wider Wales.
We could also see an impact on house prices, as buyers find the commute to the M4 corridor more appealing.This of course has both positive and negative connotations – it’s great for investors and workers priced out of their local market, who can now take advantage of lower house prices, and not so great for locals who find their home market prices increasing as they try to get on the ladder. Overall however, this is a positive effect and good for the local economy.
The removal of tolls could also have a not-so-positive effect on congestion; although there are plans for a relief road via Newport, some quarters have warned that the lack of tolls will create traffic issues, putting particular pressure on the Bryn Glas tunnels – not a happy thought for anyone who currently uses that route regularly! There are currently 25 million crossings a year, and naturally, you’d expect this to rise when the tolls are removed, so upgrades to the highways will need to be handled with care. It’s fair to say that there’s a difference in opinion on this – the AA says that journey times will be cut due to people not having to plan their route to avoid tolls. It will be interesting to see whether the increased traffic will outweigh the benefits of the boost to the economy or vice versa.
From Bespoke’s point of view, the removal of the Severn Crossing tolls is great news. It opens up Wales as a more viable business opportunity, allowing us to look again at the region in terms of extending our reach from the South West of England over to South East Wales. I foresee many potential and existing home-owners seeing the lifting of the tolls as a golden opportunity to invest in property in Wales. And with house-prices currently lower than equivalent properties in Bristol and the wider M4 corridor, I suspect that we’ll see an influx of investors who see the investment opportunity to create their dream design and build homes, all of which is good news for Bespoke.
If you’re considering building or redeveloping a property in Wales, we’d love to hear from you. Give us a call and we will arrange to come and see you to discuss your project and how Bespoke can help.