Creativity at a premium

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A single unitary authority would stimulate the release of land for commercial development and economic prosperity for the region.

The shame is that as far as deals and enquiries go there seems to be a lot of activity. In Felixstowe, developer Gazeley has secured the sale of its Felixstowe Portside scheme, which can offer up to 530,000 sq ft of space on a design and build basis with direct access to the Port of Felixstowe.

The 27-acre, intermodal site is under offer to an owner-occupier. It is located within the Trinity Estate, which has a private road network adjacent to the port’s boundary, thereby enabling the site to be classified as “Portside”. As such, the site offers potential savings in import duties, other fiscal costs and the ability to use overweight containers, giving up to 40 per cent additional shipping capacity. Joint lettings agents are Knight Frank and Bidwells. This deal doesn’t leave much within Felixstowe for larger operators, says Phil Dennis of Strutt & Parker, and it is now down to the redrawing of council boundaries to release land for employment uses in the region. “A single unitary authority would stimulate the release of land for commercial development.”

Looking at the immediate surrounding of Felixstowe and Ipswich, he says: “There are requirements for 50-100,000 sq ft but there is a lack of available stock and land.”

Travelling further west there are a few schemes and sites available. Are there any developers willing to take up the challenge when funding has become so difficult? Property Recycling Group, which owns land at Stanton with planning permission for 1.2 million sq ft, is certainly trying to help ease the problem. As well as dropping the price of the site from £10m to £7.5m it is also willing to help fund a development on the site, which originally was to have housed an Ikea distribution depot.

Agent Paul Harknett of Savills, who is marketing the sites says: “Although Ikea declined to take up the site other occupiers might also benefit from a similar east coast ports proximity. “Suffolk is peripheral to the population of the country as a whole but its saving grace is that you have to traverse it to get to Felixstowe. In addition, values are low and labour is cheap.”

There is also land at Carisbroke Investments’ 55-acre Haverhill Business Park where there are plots for buildings from 10,000 sq ft upwards, all with outline planning consent. This includes the 211,500 sq ft Big Brother plot, a big shed opportunity on 11 acres. The plot can be developed to include a 201,200 sq ft distribution unit, 10,300 sq ft of offices, parking for 188 cars and 23 HGV spaces. The plot is adjacent to Culina Logistics’ new bespoke 194,510 sq ft distribution facility.

Ben Oughton of Jeffersons Commercial says: “As quality industrial units have become scarcer in the Cambridge area, attention has moved further afield and Haverhill has increasingly become a favoured choice of location. But until now we haven’t seen anything on this scale, which has already proved it can attract national and multinational companies.”

There are warehouses available, though not many. These include Gladman’s G-Space development at Saxham, probably the only speculatively built warehouse scheme in the region.

However, interested parties will have to move quickly as Ivan Scott of Strutt & Parker says there is strong interest in both units. The larger warehouse G-Space 140 boasts 15m eaves, 12 dock and two level access doors as well as a 55m-deep yard. The recent flurry of interest could have been sparked by the fact that the quoting rents on the scheme had been revised down from £5.75 per sq ft to £5.25 per sq ft and freehold price form £80 to £65 per sq ft. Joint letting agents are Strutt & Parker and Barker Storey Matthews.

Gladman Developments is not the only developer to review quoting terms on selected developments. Wrenbridge has revised its quoting terms at its 130,000 sq ft PE2 building in Peterborough from £5.50 per sq ft to £4.95 per sq ft. Letting agents are Bidwells, Savills and King Sturge. The building boasts 12m eaves, and ten dock and two level access doors.

ProLogis has taken a more strategic stance and is offering three-year leases with six-monthly break clauses across the whole of its five million sq ft portfolio to head off potential trouble as the recession bites. It has several schemes along the A14 corridor including two units at ProLogis Park Kettering of 123,000 sq ft and 402,153 sq ft. Then there is Eurohub Railhead at Corby totalling 150,000 sq ft, and two units under construction at Pineham DC136 and DC370 of 136,203 sq ft and 370,686 sq ft respectively.

There has been a flurry of deals in the area recently with Paperchase securing Unit A at Frontier Estates’ A1M1Link industrial and distribution park on a ten-year lease at £4.75 per sq ft. There is planning for a further 100,000 sq ft design & build warehouse where Charlie Howard of M3, joint letting agent for the scheme with Burbage Realty, says he has high hopes to secure an occupier shortly.

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