David Plaister Estate Agent talks property in Weston-super-Mare

With house prices considerably lower in Weston-super-Mare than the West Country capital, Bristolians are moving to the North Somerset seaside town in their droves.

David Plaister talks property in Weston

In this week’s podcast, we talk to David Plaister – owner of the family-run Weston Estate Agency that bears his name – about this growing trend, where the best places are to live in Weston and what’s going on with the property market in general.

Tell us how it all started and where you are with the family business. 

David: I’ve been involved in the property sector for the best part of 40 years. I’ve started other brands from scratch, and built them to a sizeable business, then got out of those and started again. About 12 years ago, I decided to start David Plaister Ltd: Estate Agents. The geographical area we cover today, from one branch is vast – we go all over the place – mainly in Somerset, but also over to South and mid-Wales, and Devon, even down to Cornwall on occasion. 

People like the fact that they can walk in to our office. We probably get 15 to 20 visitors in the branch a day. Obviously a lot of that is on the lettings side – we’ve got a lot of tenants coming in, looking for properties, because the lettings market is so hot. 

St Aubyns Avenue, Uphill
St Aubyn's Avenue, Uphill. Credit: David Plaister estate agents

Is it just residential, or do you deal with commercial properties too? 

We offer a whole range – from residential sales and lettings, to commercial sales and lettings. We also have offer auctions, and we hold property auctions every other month, which is quite exciting, and certainly a growing sector. We sell businesses as well. We offer a business transfer section that sells businesses, as well as the premises or singly, and then rent the premises to the incoming party, or both. 

What are you finding with the sale of businesses in Weston? Is it something that you can see slowly growing or declining? 

There are lots of start-ups. Retail on our high street is floundering like in any other town or city, but start-ups of 1000sq foot, or 1500sq foot business units – either an office or a large industrial premises – are flourishing. We can’t really get enough of those, especially when they’re close to either junction 21 or 22 (on the M5). There is almost always a stampede for commercial properties of that nature when they’re 1000-2000sq feet.

That’s what’s unique about the area that we live in, in terms of motorway access and our train lines. Do you feel that has an impact?

Yes, certainly. There are three train stations in Weston in total. Weston-super-Mare is basically a suburb of Bristol – it’s 20 minutes to Temple Meads, and that’s the way we sell it in terms of people sleeping here and working in Bristol. Lots of people get on at all three stations with their bicycles, and they ride to work at either end.

I get the impression that what’s happening to Weston is what happened to Brighton. Would you agree with that? 

Yes, completely. People sleep in Weston and they work in Bristol, and we spend an awful lot of our marketing budget in Bristol. This was starting pre-COVID. If you go back about 12 years, it came down as far as Portishead and Clevedon, and there was a migration out of Bristol to those areas, but around 2017/18, it started to take the next leap from Clevedon down to Weston. What people are loving about Weston is the fantastic areas like the seafront – we spent £30 billion on the seafront 10 or so years ago.

I’m born and bred here, and I’ve travelled the world and wouldn’t really want to live anywhere else. 

The house housing market in Weston, I presume then, is doing really well. Is there quite a high demand for people to get properties here?

I’ve done this for many years and the years post-COVID were phenomenal years in terms of property sales, and lettings. Then a lady called Liz Truss came along, with that other chap, and they destroyed it in 10 days. We went from hero to zero. We had about six months of carnage with buyers pulling, lenders pulling, equity being called. A real tough time. 

However, since then, the market has rallied, and it’s rallied particularly well in this region, because it’s good value, because of the train links, and the things there are to do here, and today it’s an average market. I’m not going to say it’s a buoyant market, because it’s not, however, it’s very, very good value for money, as opposed to an apartment with no outside space. It’s lovely to come here and get a garden, and have all the outside space that’s linked to that. So yes, there is a good demand.

Treelands, Hillside Road, Bleadon
Treelands, Hillside Road, Bleadon. Credit: David Plaister Estate Agents

What sorts of property are people trying to find in Weston?

All sorts really. We sell up to around the £3 million mark. So whatever sector, and whatever stage of life you’re in, there’s a property here for you. However, outside space is really important after COVID. No one really wants to work from home from their kitchen table, when there’s other people in the property, so it’s nice to have extra space, or somewhere in the garden where you can go to work.

What are some of the popular areas to live in Weston?

Well, there are many – the seafront with The Grand Pier, and Revo, Sand Bay and Weston Woods. The sand is good, the beach is good – okay, the water’s not like the south of France, but many people swim in it. If you go further south, you get to the Uphill area and the village there, that’s superb. We’ve got the parks, Grove Park and Ellenborough Park, so there’s plenty to do if you’re day-tripping with your family.

Royal Crescent, Weston
Royal Crescent, Weston.

When people are buying a property and they say they’re looking for an area to live in Weston, which areas would you recommend to them?

Firstly, it depends on their lifestyle, do they need to be commutable to Bristol, and do they need to be by the train station? Or if they’re driving, do they need to be by either junction 21 or 22. 

We have villages bordering Weston, in the north, south and east, and people like to be in the villages also. Or do they want a new property or a new-ish property? We’ve got many new builds – I call them new builds, but some of them are five or six years old now. Schools are very important too.

With those new housing developments, do you know how many new houses are planned to be built in the coming years? 

It’s speculated at about 5000. That would be on the south side of Weston coming in along the dual carriageway – you will see an awful lot there. 

If you go to any sort of small village or you’re driving through ,you’ll find 40, 60 or 80 new builds in places where you would never have dreamt they would be, so it’s not only the town centre. You’ve got to think about infrastructure, can the hospital cope? Can the schools cope, can the dentist and the doctor cope? 

I think planning has changed significantly. Clearly, we’re an island that’s populating and therefore there’s a need for housing. We see that via the letting side.

We’ve always been the poor relation to Portishead and Clevedon and I’m delighted now that we’re now holding our own and competing with those areas for people moving here.

Cycling/commuting Weston Train station
Cycling/commuting Weston Train station, credit North Somerset Council

Weston is a particularly friendly place. Would you agree that people think that once they’ve moved here?

As I say, the high street’s tricky as every high street is, but when I walk across in the mornings to my office, and all the students are going to college, lots of them say good morning. If you went to the cities, if you went to London, would anybody say good morning to you, I doubt it. 

So it is inclusive, and it’s a super place to live. We’ve got some fantastic schools here, and on the fringes of the town, going out into villages, there’s some wonderful private facilities also. We’ve got fantastic sports facilities, in terms of rugby, football, tennis, squash – really quite good for a growing teenager.

There’s also other adventure sports like kitesurfing, roller skating, getting your scooter out. So you feel that things are really changing and Weston and in a very positive way?

Yes I do. I feel that the housing stock is certainly changing. We’ve got properties dating back to the early 1700s – if you think of the Thatched Cottage on the seafront, it’s one of the oldest properties in the town and is a fantastic restaurant with original thatched roof. 

On the hillside we’ve got the Edwardian and Victorian era properties, which are absolutely splendid. There are a number of which are converted to apartments now, but there are still some intact. The sympathetic conversions of those Victorian or Edwardian properties are phenomenal. The views from there – it’s like being in an aircraft! You’re looking south west and round to the east, almost round to Cheddar, Glastonbury Tor, and you can see across to South Wales, you can see the Millennium Stadium.  

Birnbeck Lodge Apartment, seafront, Weston-super-Mare
Birnbeck Lodge Apartment, seafront, Weston. Credit: David Plaister estate agent

What’s a fact that you know about Weston that people from the outside don’t know? 

Commute time to Bristol – people always think it’s an hour. You know, it might be an hour on a bad day queueing, but certainly by train, it’s a lot shorter. 

What’s your favourite place for a meal out in Weston?

As a company, we deal with most of the business people all the time – I might well get strung up if I favoured one. However, there are many places to eat, like The Thatched Cottage I mentioned earlier, Tiffany’s on the end of the pier, Revo, Demetri’s, Sakura. Michelangelo’s is a favourite. 

What about places to drink in Weston? 

I think there’s two or three places where the youngsters go and they’re not far from our office. But I don’t see it too much past midnight, but I’m told they’re very busy. If you want to go for dinner and drink afterwards, there are many places to go on a summer’s evening on the seafront – there’s nowhere better.

What’s one of your favourite things to do in Weston? 

Depends where you are in terms of where you are in your life really, and your age bracket, but there are many things to do on the beach like kitesurfing and windsurfing. Sporting activities, tennis, golf, dog walking – we are the start of the Mendips here. Sand Bay is completely underrated. Properties are sold very quickly on the seafront at Sand Bay. 

South Sands there, is a wonderful local hotel/eatery with rooms and a venue facility right at the head of Sand Bay. It’s fantastic there for walking. And Sand Point in the north, Uphill in the south. 

Kitesurfing in Weston
Uphill View, Weston-super-Mare
Kitesurfing, credit Neil O'Donoghue, @nodpics Community Renewal Fund

We’ve had some really great events springing up, partly through Super Culture, we’ve got lots of different things going on. Is there a favourite event that you always go to?

We’ve got Weston Carnival, which is a wonderful spectacle, we get about 100,000 people here. Air Day – it didn’t happen this year – but Air Day is a very special event with the red arrows, and Vulcan jets and all the helicopters. The Weston Beach Race), which is the biggest off-road motorsport event in the UK.

If people want to take you up on your offer of popping him in the office and showing them around, where can they find you physically and where can they find you online?

We’re online at Davidplaister.co.uk, physically we’re at South Parade which is right opposite the Italian Gardens, which is the town square with the fountain, opposite the Royal Hotel. So we’re literally a five-minute walk from the seafront. Our staff are waiting, whether you’re enquiring about residential sales, lettings, commercial sales or lettings auctions, or whether you have a business to buy or sell. 

Weston Beach Race
Weston Beach Race credit Neil O'Donoghue Community Renewal Fund

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