CBRE research highlights South Coast cities in the top five for real estate sector growth across the UK

James Brounger, Head of CBRE Southampton

New research from global real estate adviser CBRE was launched this week – Which City? Which Sector? Real estate prospects over the next decade – focusing on the 50 largest towns and cities outside of London and 12 core real estate sectors.

Across the South Coast, Southampton, Brighton and Bournemouth were all ranked in the top five for several of the sectors covered in the research, including affordable housing, leisure and hotels.

Commenting on the research, Head of CBRE’s Southampton office, James Brounger said: “It is good news for the South Coast that the regional cities feature so highly. Southampton in particular has benefited hugely from the recent recovery of the maritime industry, especially the cruise industry with passenger numbers set to hit two million in 2023, a figure not seen for six years.

“Equally well known for its universities, Southampton has a student population of 46,000 and along with Reading and Oxford is one of the cities expected to see a large increase in student population over the next decade, fueling the requirement for multi-family housing and self-storage. Surrounded by the New Forest and nearby South Downs, it was voted the fourth best city to live and work in according to One Family in 2022.”

CBRE Head of UK Research Jen Siebrits said: “Our research has looked in detail at the prospects for a range of real estate sectors across the UK’s largest regional towns and cities. As well as GDP, employment and income growth, we considered demographic trends and property market data, such as supply pipeline, local universities, and housing affordability.

“From our findings, we have ranked individual locations based on their prospects for growth in each sector, cross referencing the highest growth sectors alongside the top ten growth cities for each sector.”

Towns and cities continue to evolve reflecting their local geographies, natural resources and cultural history. As a result, no two cities in the UK are the same and subsequently, different real estate sectors thrive in different locations.


With the approval of the Solent Freeport the Solent region has become the UK’s most important gateway to European and global markets and is expected to create over 15,000 direct jobs and a further 15,000 opportunities across the UK. Southampton is expected to see a population rise of 3.7% over the next decade, the fourth highest in the country and its three highest growth sectors over the next ten years include hotels, multi-family housing and self-storage.

Student population is becoming increasingly familiar and fonder of MFH and a growing demand pool for the sector. Southampton, Reading and Oxford are three cities in the top ten included in the research with an expected large increase in student-age population over the next ten years. Southampton is also ranked as the second top growth city for affordable housing in the next decade, and scores highly across the majority of the metrics used in the research. The fundamentals are similar to Bristol but as the planning process ranks top of all cities covered, it may have fewer restrictions on delivery.

Domestic travel is forecast to increase 36% by 2030. Southampton, along with Brighton and Glasgow, is one of the cities set to record the biggest rise in visitors and hotel operators in the city are expected to see an increase of 67% in international visitors, the biggest rise of all cities covered.


Brighton is one of the UK’s most culturally diverse and cosmopolitan cities, well known for its strength in the creative industries, digital and technology sectors. It ranked in the top ten of more than half the sectors, reflecting its strong expected employment and disposable income growth.

The city benefits from a strong tourist economy, and independent retail offering and was ranked second by One Family as the happiest city to live and work in. Core growth is anticipated in the leisure and food & beverage, senior living and multi-family housing real estate sectors.


Bournemouth is well known as a popular side town and is closely linked with nearby Sandbanks, which has some of the highest priced housing in the UK. Bournemouth is also a popular commercial hub, benefiting from strong European transport links from its airport base. Like Brighton, the town is expected to see high growth in both GDP and disposable income of 16.5% and 17.6% respectively. Over the next ten years, Bournemouth’s core growth sectors include leisure and food & beverage, senior living and affordable housing.