Increased interest in large-scale distribution centres

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Gladman Developments is in the process of obtaining planning permission for another of its ground-breaking ‘Big Five’ distribution / warehouse schemes at Sherburn in Elmet, east of Leeds. And, if given the go-ahead, the scheme will feature one of the largest speculatively built distribution / warehouse facilities in the country. The joint venture with Yorkshire Forward will not only feature a 48,360sq m high bay distribution / warehouse facility, but also a range of other industrial buildings from starter units up to a 23,250sq m unit.

According to the company, the location provides excellent access to the A1M at J44, which in turn provides excellent access to the M62 and M1 to the South and North Yorkshire and the North-east to the North.

Gladman says it is confident that the Yorkshire market will easily sustain such an ambitious development, with interest in large-scale distribution facilities on the increase from an ever-wider range of companies. This scheme, it says, will no doubt draw a number of high quality occupiers to Sherburn as well as create a large number of employment opportunities.

Neil McManus, of Gladman, explains: “Yorkshire is in as much need of large distribution centres as anywhere else in the country. Interest at this early stage has already proved to be good, with a number of household name occupiers approaching us for further details.”

Once planning has been obtained work will start speculatively with a hopeful completion date of mid-2004. Requirements for large-scale distribution and warehousing facilities rely as much on timing and demographics as they do on location and price. Businesses now rely on being able to make quick decisions and in the distribution sector, contract-led operations mean that facilities need to be available within short periods of time, and not having to wait 12 to 18 months for a design and build option. Building speculatively requires a certain amount of flexibility within the design. Market perception has always been that speculative facilities are not as well specified as design and build options. Gladman hopes to overcome this misconception, by building the Sherburn development to include a very high specification of 15m eaves, 60 dock levellers (30 each side for cross docking) and generous floor loading.

Jon Shepherd, director at Gladman, says: “These facilities have been designed to be all things to all men. By building to the frontiers of various different occupiers requirements, we ensure that the product has wide ranging appeal. The Sherburn warehouse will not only be the biggest speculative facility in Yorkshire, but will also have one of the highest specifications.”

Proximity to a skilled and available workforce is another major consideration in the location of these distribution hubs. Gladman’s ‘Big Five’, including Sherburn in Elmet, are located close to large conurbations with a history of three shift-working patterns that emulates that of the distribution / warehousing sector. Slow industrial decline within these areas means that a workforce is readily available to take on the 24-hour work patterns required.

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