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Norfolk: a des res for Londoners post-virus?

Travel behaviour

13 July 2020

Norfolk could become an attractive place to live for Londoners who want more space for home-working after Covid-19, the county council believes.  

“As we anticipate more working from home and a move away from the ‘big city office’ concept towards working from anywhere (not just home), Norfolk could offer an attractive relocation area for such workers,” says a council document, ‘Supporting the economic recovery – Norfolk delivery plan.’ 

“Trains to London could provide the occasional office commute, offset by a more attractive work-life balance for those who wish it, as well as more affordable housing. This was already the model for some in the creative industries before the pandemic.”

A “robust broadband network” is “clearly critical to such a model”, says Norfolk. 

“Taking this one step further, head office relocation to Norfolk could be an attractive lower-cost alternative to London,” the council suggests. 

Norfolk also hopes to capitalise on the growth of online retailing,  seeing the potential for building fulfilment warehousing centres along the A11 trunk road that connects Cambridge to Norwich.

Possible implications of more home-working for the housing market were explored in a recent blog by Paul Cheshire, emeritus professor of economic geography at the London School of Economics, and Christian Hilber, professor of economic geography at LSE.  

“The first would be that people would demand more space in their houses; the second is that commuting costs might become less important as an influence on where people choose to live,” they said. “These would suggest a movement outwards to find cheaper land and space, and accept the longer commute that implied.”

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