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F40As is perhaps evident from our recent advert in the Business Times, which showed the highlights of current and future potential development in Northamptonshire and the wider region, there is much activity in the area, which is largely precipitated by the current conditions of the commercial property market.

There has been consistent development of what are known as ‘super sheds’ which are popular in this part of the UK, due to the motorway infrastructure and excellent access that this provides. In the last 12 months however, it has become glaringly apparent of the requirement for new small and mid-sized business premises, particularly in the industrial and production sectors.

Drake Commercial have recently undergone a market survey of the region and a good example of this need for development is in Northampton itself. Our statistics suggest that the vacancy rate in the industrial sector is just 5.4%. The office market has slightly more space available but only 8% of this is what we would class as Grade A specification. So with this in mind, where is the development activity?

FOCUS NORTHAMPTON: A good example of this small to mid-sized development is that of Brackmills Trade Park. Developers Tungsten, together with M&G have built a new mixed use trade park scheme that has attracted a range of national operators including Screwfix and Toolstation, together with a small retail offering. There has been high demand for the scheme and this is evidenced by the record rental levels that have been achieved, up to £10 psf on the most recent deals to be agreed.

FOCUS DAVENTRY: Daventry District Council have reacted to the current conditions in the market and with our local and regional expertise in mind, Drake Commercial were recently invited to a planning workshop to discuss potential solutions to this. Daventry is an established location for industrial, manufacturing and motor related businesses but new development is desperately required to allow these companies to continue to grow.

We expect several planning applications to be made in the coming months on sites close to the town but a good example of a scheme that has proved successful in the wider Daventry district is Manor Business Park at Woodford Halse, where they have built out speculatively and currently have units available from 5,000 to 15,000 sq ft. This is a location that was perhaps previously over looked, but now has an established commercial business community, instigated by the quality of the development and lack of alternatives elsewhere.

FOCUS TOWCESTER: Towcester has, for a long time been increasing in popularity, with residential values rising and the town centre now popular with both national and boutique retailers. Something that is perhaps less considered is the excellent infrastructure the town possesses for industrial and logistics companies, with easy access to the M1, M40, A43 and A5. With this in mind, our clients Hampton Brook are planning a new high quality warehouse development branded as Formula 40, which provides visibility from the A43 roundabout, located near Tesco. The property can be offered in its entirety (40,000 sq ft) as a new HQ facility, or it can be split from 14,000 sq ft upwards. Interest is expected to come from a range of parties, potentially motor related operators looking to be close to Silverstone.

FOCUS WELLINGBOROUGH: Wellingborough has potentially the most significant amount of development in the pipeline in the next few years, with Stanton Cross gathering momentum. The scheme promoted by Bovis Homes and St Modwen and advised by Drake Commercial, which is located to the east of Wellingborough train station, will be the largest growth the town has seen since the 1960’s. Not only will the proposals provide 3,650 new homes and community facilities, but extensive employment opportunities in the form of new commercial buildings, including high tech/R&D, industrial and distribution, offices, retail and leisure. This will create an estimated 3,000 new jobs.

On a smaller scale, Stepnell Developments, who have previously been offering pre-let commercial opportunities at Ogee Business Park, are now looking to build out speculatively, which is further evidence of the current lack of stock and confidence they have in the market.

FOCUS CRICK: Crick might be considered smaller than the aforementioned locations in the county, however it remains popular with transport and logistics operations, due to its close proximity to junction 18 of the M1. These established estates, particularly Eldon Way have seen a range of redevelopment over the last 12 months. There has been a joint venture between Legal & General and developers Graftongate, who have constructed a brand new ‘super shed’ comprising circa 200,000 sq ft. In the mid sized market, our clients Wigley Group are nearing completion of the redevelopment of an existing building at the front of the same estate, branded J18, which will provide just over 42,000 sq ft of overhauled space, with extended yard area. Both these schemes will be looking to take advantage of the proximity to the motorway network.

We hope this provides a snapshot of not only what is happening in the area, but also what is required to allow established and growing companies to continue to prosper. Developers are increasingly looking to build speculatively and we would urge the local authorities to ensure any development sites that might be suitable for employment use are kept as such and not simply sold off for residential use. Housing is, as ever, required but those that live there also need somewhere to work and the market indicators clearly show the demand is there for commercial space.

To discuss your planning, development or wider commercial property matters, contact Drake Commercial on 01604 620616 or enquiries@drakecommercial.co.uk

Tom Drake, Partner. October 2017.