Buyers queue in the pouring rain to get their hands on ‘locals-only’ flats in the city centre

Scores of people queued for hours in pouring rain to get their hands on ‘locals-only’ flats in the city centre.

A total of 50 off-plan flats were up for grabs at Crusader Mill in Ancoats – reserved exclusively for people who live and work in Manchester.

Developers Capital and Centric were offering the flats to locals as they wanted to prevent investors siphoning them off.

The idea of selling ‘locals only’ flats came about last year, when the first 20 apartments in the former Victorian mill were sold.

There was such a huge demand for the first wave of flats that 50 more were released on Saturday.

Josh MacGregor, a 27-year-old pilot, was one of the first people to line up in the queue on Chapeltown Street, just before 8am.

The first time buyer said: “What attracted me to the property was that it’s not open to investors. I heard there’s quite a lot of empty flats in Manchester.

“There aren’t really many other flats up for sale to be honest and a lot of the newer builds are sold off to foreign investors before they are even built.

“[The developers] also want to make it a community, which is important. There’s more of a chance of you getting to know your neighbours.”

Linda Sinclair, a specs art work coordinator, also braved the elements to queue up along with around 50 other house-hunters.

The 31-year-old is currently renting a flat near Victoria Station and is eager to get on the property ladder.

She said: “I have been searching for a flat to buy in Manchester for ages. This was recommended by a friend. I got really excited about it.

It’s in a good area, and the flats are spacious. Working full time, I find flats go really quickly. There should be more flats available for people who will actually live here. It’s very rare.”

One of the first people to put a deposit down on the flats, which will available in September next year, was Nam Day, an executive assistant.

The 31-year-old, who recently moved back to Manchester after a stint living in London, had queued up from about 8am to bag a place at the renovated mill, and was beaming from ear to ear after snapping up a a spacious £230,000 one bed flat.

She said: “I heard someone else was going to go for it so I put down the deposit. It’s a good location and I like the idea of there being a good community.

[Capital and Centric] are going to hold a lot of events here, so we can get to know our neighbours. I have just come from London, where you often don’t know who your neighbour is. I also love the history of the mill. I looked at another place before to buy, but it was quite expensive. This one was good value for money, it’s quite big.”

Tim Heatley, one of the founders of Capital and Centric, said he hoped more developers would get on board with the idea of selling flats just to owner occupiers.

He said the company advertised the flats by posting flyers through the doors of neighbouring properties. They also put up flashing road signs advertising the open day, and spread the word through social media channels.

He said: “We want to create a vibrant community, who will spend money in the community. You get a much better sense of ownership and stewardship that way.

A lot of the developments you see in the city centre are solely for investors. Owner occupiers don’t get a look in. In the 12 months since we held the last open day, we thought more developers would follow our lead, but they haven’t.

“It’s something we would like to see more of in the city. It shouldn’t be a radical thing that we are building homes for people to live in.”