How will scrapping the Severn Bridge toll charges affect the property market in Wales?

Difference in prices between Bristol and east Newport is stark

11 August 2017

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The highest toll charges in the UK, currently levied on both of the Severn crossings into Wales, are to be abolished, according to an announcement made by the UK Government in July. The news that both charges are to be completely scrapped by the end of 2018 is considered to be of great consequence and has been almost universally welcomed, with most commentators expecting it to have a positive effect on businesses and homeowners in south-east Wales. Currently the costs stand at almost £7 for cars, £13.40 for vans and £20 for HGVs to cross into Wales. The charges have been dubbed a tax on people and businesses, particularly those running fleets of vehicles, costing the sector millions of pounds and working as a disincentive for inward investment.

Ben Bolton, Director of Business Space at Cooke & Arkwright says the move is long overdue. “It removes at least one barrier to the success of the South Wales economy. The difference in prices between Bristol and east Newport is stark, whilst in distance and time it is relatively small. It can be anticipated that a degree of adjustment will take place with renewed interest in the area between Newport and the bridges. Sites such as Newhouse Farm and Gwent Europark will benefit, as should Queensway Meadows and Leeway Industrial Estate for example.”

Director Jeremy Symons commented, “The next step will involve a much bigger decision, relating to the Brynglas tunnels and the M4 Relief Road. As and when this obstacle is overcome, South Wales will then be on an equal footing with the South West of England, which can be expected to be of significant benefit to all concerned. Effectively, it could become a ‘South West and Wales Powerhouse’.

Commenting on the residential sector, Managing Director, Andrew Gardner said, “I’m aware that house agents in Monmouthshire anticipate increased interest from Bristol-based prospective purchasers because of the savings in commuting and cheaper house prices. We knew that there was already demand in the Newport area from first-time buyers from Bristol prior to this announcement, so we expect that this will further stimulate demand.”

Cooke & Arkwright have been providing rating valuation advice to The Welsh Rugby Union Limited (“WRU”) and Millennium Stadium plc for many years. They were recently successful in achieving substantial reductions in the assessments of the Millennium Stadium, covering both the 2005 and 2010 rating list. These negotiated reductions yielded savings of c.£3.5m which, crucially, allows the WRU to re-invest in rugby throughout Wales. They advise the WRU across the group portfolio including the National Centre of Excellence in the Vale of Glamorgan. The valuation issues across the WRU portfolio are complex requiring a high level of understanding of the funding and finances of professional sport in Wales. Cooke & Arkwright’s experience and understanding of these issues and application to the rating valuation have yielded these substantial negotiated reductions. The WRU and the Millennium Stadium entrust our work to organisations with the required levels in experience and expertise in dealing with these complex issues. I am glad to say we have this expertise in Wales. I would have no hesitation in recommending ratepayers making use of this Welsh based expertise.

The Welsh Rugby Union Limited, Welsh Rugby Union Group