OK, perhaps it won’t make much of a return for you today, or even your children or their grandchildren, but some point in the next 200 years it will pay off.
Firstly, for those of you who know it better by its nickname, I’m talking about the salubrious part of Birmingham otherwise called Spaghetti Junction.
You wouldn’t want to live there today, what with all those lanes of fuming traffic (and fuming drivers sat in the endless tailbacks).
But 200 years ago if you’d told someone that the noisy, messy and smelly inland harbours in Birmingham, Manchester and Leeds would one day become some of the most desirable residences in their respective cities they would have had the same reaction to someone telling you to invest in housing by the M6 today.
Over the last couple of months I’ve spent several days in all three cities and in all cases the big developments have been around the canals.
Some of the most exclusive developments in Birmingham are around Old Turn Junction, the 18th Century equivalent of Gravelly Hill. The area around the Clarence Dock in Leeds is heaving with luxury flats, high end retailers and even a Casino.
It’s all a massive, and positive, change from the way canals were treated in the past, spending many years slowly decaying into little more than industrial tips and derelict waste grounds.
So, if you’re looking for a long term investment, just remember 200 years ago railways didn’t exist and 150 years ago the idea of the horseless carriage would have gotten you locked up in an asylum. Who knows what the next big thing in transport will be, and if it doesn’t require roads then Gravelly Hill will be the 22nd Centuries dream regeneration site.
Admittedly, it will probably also be the setting off site for a lot of those 22nd Century HGV driving holidays where you take a vintage 2002 Eddie Stobart lorry round the parts of the UK motorway network that are still navigable, but that will be “quaint” and post-post-industrial.