Solid buy-to-let returns in affluent Chester, the jewel of Cheshire
Wiltshire is widely known for Salisbury Plain, famous as the location of the Stonehenge and Avebury stone circles. It’s perhaps the most famous Neolithic sites in the world, as well as a training area for the British Army.
The 2011 census showed Wiltshire has a population of 470,981, an increase of 8.8% from the 2001 census, the highest rate of growth of any of the rural counties in the south-west region. Still, average property prices across Wiltshire are just 6% above the regional average..
Wiltshire’s economy benefits from the M4 corridor and Swindon is home to national and international corporations such as Honda, Intel, Motorola, Patheon, Catalent, Becton-Dickinson, WHSmith, Early Learning Centre and Nationwide. Dyson is also located nearby.
In 2008/2009 large parts of the country were still experiencing the recession. Wiltshire, however, experienced notable growth changes in transport and storage (31%), financial & insurance services (23%), construction (10%) and public administration (9.5%).
The construction industry is generally regarded as the first to enter and the last to come out of recession. Wiltshire’s employment in this sector grew over the period, suggesting that the economy here was already entering the recovery phase in 2009.
Economy & Employment
Manufacturing, public administration and defence are major employers in the county
18 of the South of England’s 500 biggest companies are based in Swindon, including:
- Nationwide Building Society, the largest building society in the country, which has around 17,000 employees and a turnover of £5.8bn in 2015.
- Intel Corporation (UK) Ltd, the computer processor manufacturer, which had a turnover of almost £4bn in 2015.
- Npower Ltd, the gas and electricity provider, which has over 1,000 employees in Swindon, and had a turnover of almost £4bn in 2015.
- Connect Group plc, which has over 1,000 employees in its Swindon office, and turned over £1.8bn in 2015.
Swindon is also home to many other national and international corporations such as Honda, Motorola, Alcatel-Lucent, Patheon, Becton-Dickinson, WHSmith and Early Learning Centre to name a few.
Wiltshire’s has a higher than the national average of employment in manufacturing, public administration and defence. The Army has barracks at Tidworth, Bulford and Warminster and a new Defence Training Centre is being developed there.
Wiltshire is distinctive in having a high proportion of its working-age population economically active – (86.6% in 1999–2000), and low unemployment rates.
The £10m regeneration plan for Sussex Square in Swindon is underway.
Swindon is benefitting from a £750m regeneration investment set to redevelop and expand the Oasis Leisure Centre and create a cinema and restaurant complex at the old Swindon College site. The station forecourt will be upgraded and Kimmerfields, Swindon’s business district, will be redeveloped.
The town is also seeing a £10m regeneration project creating new homes. The first phase saw 12 properties, a mixture of 1 and 2 beds, built. In total, the site will hold 48 properties and is expected to complete in January 2017.
The building is also underway to transform the former Peter Black site in Trowbridge into a £7m retail development. The new units will house an M&S Simply Food and Toby Carvery among others, and a car park with 148 spaces. It’s due to open in September 2016.
March 2013 saw the Army pledge £850m to develop bases in Wiltshire, as part of a £1.8bn investment across the UK.
Air: Airports for scheduled airlines near Wiltshire include Bristol Airport, Bristol Filton Airport, Gloucestershire Airport, London Oxford Airport, London Heathrow Airport and Southampton Airport.
Rail: Three main railway routes, all of which carry passenger traffic, cross Wiltshire. Great Western Main Line, Wessex Main Line and West of England Main Line.
Other routes include Reading to Taunton Line, Heart of Wessex Line, Golden Valley Line and South Wales Main Line.
Trains run from Swindon to London in a little over an hour, at 20-minute intervals. Other major stations are Salisbury and Westbury, with important junctions at Swindon, Chippenham and Trowbridge.
Bus: Wiltshire has a bus service network across the county, catering for town services, rural communities and commuter services for the travellers further afield. With the Salisbury to London commute taking around an hour and a half.
Road: Wiltshire county is well served by the road network with the A4, M4 motorway / M4 Corridor, A303 trunk road, A350 and A417.
Wiltshire is home to 169 maintained schools, comprising of seven infant schools, six junior schools, 144 primary schools, eight secondary schools and four special schools. The area is also home to 66 academies.
Further Education: There are four colleges in Wiltshire – New Swindon College, Wiltshire College, Sarum College and Swindon College – and one sixth form college, Salisbury 6th Form College.
As yet there are no universities within Wiltshire, however, Bath Spa University has a centre in Corsham and Oxford Brookes University maintains a campus in Swindon.
Outline plans for a projected University of Swindon or University of Wiltshire were announced by the Borough of Swindon in November 2008, but the scheme remains uncommitted. Swindon is the UK’s largest centre of the population without its own university.
Shops & Leisure
Shopping: Salisbury is great for shopping. Its historic streets are home to favourite stores, as well as independent retailers offering bespoke and unusual items you won’t find on the high street. On Tuesdays and Saturdays, the hustle and bustle of the Charter Market fill the market place. Other interesting markets take place throughout the year.
Dining: Eating out in Salisbury is a pleasure thanks to an enticing range of tea and coffee shops, pubs and restaurants, clubs and bars, with plenty on offer throughout the day and the evenings. As a result of this and the great array of events on offer, Salisbury has been awarded Purple Flag status – the ‘gold standard’ for a great night out.
Culture: There are plenty of events that take place in and around the county from the world-renowned Ageas Salisbury International Arts Festival through to the annual Christmas Market. Arts venues include Salisbury Playhouse, the south-west’s leading producing theatre, City Hall and Salisbury Arts Centre.
Green Space: Wiltshire is home to a wealth of green spaces to explore. Stonehenge is surely the most famous, drawing visitors from afar.
Wiltshire is also famous for its eight chalk horses in Westbury, Cherhill, Marlborough, Alton Barnes, Hackpen, Broadtown, Pewsey and Devizes. Some of the horses date back 250 years. The most recent is the horse in Devizes, created in 1999, the only one to be facing to the right.