The lack of commercial property development during the global downturn is hampering many company’s expansion plans says commercial property agent Prop-Search.
Pressure on commercial property stock throughout Northamptonshire, in particular for industrial accommodation, has continued during 2013 with critically low levels of quality units now available. Whilst these take-up levels are encouraging, growth may yet be curtailed by the lack of commercial property development. Residential property schemes are now conspicuous throughout the urban landscape, however new speculative commercial developments remain conspicuous by their absence.
A number of new schemes in the County are poised ready for new development, albeit primarily on a design and build basis. Throughout the year these have been attracting good levels of interest with some major companies taking the decision to acquire new facilities.
Following the freehold acquisition by Dachser of a 16 acre site at Brackmills Point in Northampton – for the construction of a 64,000 sq ft cross-dock warehouse, 114,000 sq ft contract warehouse incorporating 21,000 sq ft of offices – it is now understood that the major national brewery and retailer Carlsberg has agreed a pre-let deal for a 350,000 sq ft facility. It is thought that the developer, Roxhill, may now look to speculatively develop a 100,000 sq ft headquarters warehouse to complete the site.
Activity is also brisk at Roxhill’s scheme in Raunds, Warth Park. Construction is nearing completion on a 42,000 sq ft facility for the national parcel delivery company Geopost and it has now been confirmed that Airwair and Ricoh have both agreed pre-let deals for 100,000 sq ft and 250,000 sq ft respectively. The front section of the site, comprising 10 acres, offers opportunities for uses including hotel, health & fitness, family pub/restaurant, crèche and other smaller commercial units.
Roxhill is also shortly to submit a planning application for a new business park near Junction 10 of the A14 at Burton Latimer. The site has been identified by the North Northamptonshire Joint Planning Unit as an area for development for employment use and is master planned as a high quality mixed use B1 (business), B2 (general industrial) and B8 (storage and distribution) scheme. This site could accommodate buildings from 10,000 sq ft to 150,000 sq ft, creating approximately 3,000 new employment opportunities.
Also in North Northamptonshire, Corby boasts several sites ripe for pre-let deals. TriPark on the Oakley Hay Industrial Estate comprises 17.72 acres which can accommodate development from 20,000 sq ft up to 200,000 sq ft and is suitable to be developed for uses including roadside drive-thru take-away/restaurant, quasi retail, pub/restaurant and hotel, and other commercial uses. The Centrix Industrial & Distribution Park comprises a 39 acre site that is capable for housing industrial/warehouse buildings of between 50,000 sq ft and 250,000 sq ft. It is fully serviced and ready for immediate development.
Frenbury Developments is also promoting a 23 acre site, known as Manton Park, located adjacent to the 114,000 sq ft Peel Retail Centre in Corby. Planning is available for a variety of uses including warehouse, factory, motor dealerships and offices. Buildings are available to purchase or rent on a design and build basis to suit occupier specific needs within the 10,000 sq ft to 500,000 sq ft size range. . Alternatively, the developer will consider a sale of plots from one acre.
During the year, Mulberry Developments has secured outline planning permission for a new distribution warehouse development year alongside Junction 12 of the A14 at Islip and a single national distribution centre of up to 1,000,000 sq ft could be accommodated. Until 2010, the 58 acre site was used for car storage.
The biggest news for the County has been the sale of Silverstone Industrial estate and the development land around the outside of the racing circuit in a reported £32 million property deal. The British Racing Drivers’ Club has confirmed that MEPC has taken a 999 year lease on the 760 acre site. The BRDC’s original masterplan, which gained planning permission in 2011, included 200 acres for a mixed-use scheme and would feature a new business park of up to 1.3m sq ft, a technology hub of around 675,000 sq ft, education campus and hotels.
Other significant property transactions across the County include Costco’s agreement to buy 64 acres of land at G Park, Crick as part of its UK-wide expansion. The site, sold by Gazeley, will house Costco’s European distribution campus, catering for the growth of the wholesaler’s logistics requirements now and in future phase. The site has planning permission for up to 1.1 million sq ft and it is understood that Costco plans to initially construct a 565,000 sq ft distribution facility.
Prop-Search confirms that there remains a good level of enquiries in the market for industrial properties, however there are limited opportunities available to satisfy this demand. This is now putting developers under pressure to return to speculative development, even on a smaller scale, sooner rather than later or else Northamptonshire could be at risk of losing some of its existing businesses.