Regeneration pays dividends

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The Thames Gateway / A13 corridor continues to attract new occupiers, the latest being Securitas who has just acquired 5,580sq m on Ravenbourne Developments’ Thames Gateway Park at Dagenham.

The Thames Gateway region is benefiting from a massive Government regeneration drive. Large redundant sites have been brought to the market by the London Development Agency (LDA) primarily for light or heavy industrial so warehousing users will have fewer options to consider.

Incentives are available to companies moving into or staying in the region and major infrastructure improvements are either close to completion or due to take place within the next two to three years. The widening of the A13T to a virtual motorway standard between the M25 and North Circular Road is nearing completion while proposed improvements to the public transport system include new bus routes servicing Ilford/Barking and the Dagenham Dock area and a DLR extension into Dagenham Dock. The LDA can provide Grant Aid Assistance (GAA) to qualifying companies, usually based on job creation and capital expenditure. A number of wards within the Thames Gateway will benefit from full relief from the new Government Stamp Duty Land Tax, which comes into effect on December 1 this year.

This focus on the area has resulted in some of the UK’s biggest developers committing to build out speculatively. New units ranging from 333sq m to 2,511sq m are available along the A13 between the Blackwall Tunnel and West Thurrock. It is important to consider take-up of new space – circa 57,660sq m over the past 12 months – in the context of the diverse range of unit sizes which are available or coming to the market; this is effectively an emerging market attracting new occupiers.

Ravenbourne Developments, funded by Standard Life Investments, was among the first to see the potential. Eastern Approach on Alfred’s Way totalled 13,020sq m and was fully let by March 2002. It has since pre-let a 6,045sq m specialist trade counter unit to Saint Gobain Specialist Products and has a 1,581sq m new unit under construction for Eastwood & sons on the former Eastwood Joinery site. Gateway XIII on Ferry Lane, Rainham, totaled 9,858sq m in two units and was fully let/sold within four months of completion.

The company’s latest flagship development is Thames Gateway Park at Dagenham Dock where British Bakeries had a purpose-built cross dock warehouse of 14,415sq m constructed and the speculative Phase 2 scheme has seen lettings of 6,138sq m to Antalis and now 5,580sq m to Securitas. Units ranging from 1,488sq m to 6,138sq m are available. The 19 acre Phase 3 will be coming to the market in early 2004.

ProLogis Developments has also invested in the area. ProLogis Park, West Thurrock, saw Eagle Global Logistics take a pre-letting of 13,950sq m leaving a single 8,091sq m high bay unit available for occupation. The nearby Lakeside DC1 unit of 10,230sq m is available for occupation and ProLogis River Road, Barking, a single 25,110sq m high bay unit will be ready in February 2004.

The ProLogis/Astral joint venture development Circular 13 at Barking totalling 13,299sq m in three units ranging from 930sq m to 8,835sq m has just been completed. ProLogis also acquired the former Case New Holland warehouse of circa 34,689sq m on Oliver Road, West Thurrock. It is available to let short term or for redevelopment of up to 28,830sq m.

Gazeley Properties has recently acquired two strategic sites: the former Esso Farm at Purfleet for a single high bay unit of 45,384sq m and the ex-Sunday Market site at Dagenham Dock for a single high bay unit of 20,925sq m.

Meanwhile, the io Group has cornered the smaller unit market. Phase 1 on River Road Barking, totalled 7,440sq m in nine units ranging from 326sq m to 2,492 sq m. Only two units remain and work has started on Phase 2 which will provide 8,277sq m in 14 units ranging from 3,255sq m to 1,256sq m. On Motherwell Way, West Thurrock, io is due to start building 8,184sq m in ten units ranging from 419sq m to 1,511sq m. All these units are available on flexible leasehold or freehold terms.

Other notable new developments include Rosemound’s Neptune Business Estate at Dolphin Way, West Thurrock where 5,766sq m in five units ranging from 809sq m to 1,465sq m will be ready this month and where two of the units are already under offer. Solus 31 on Motherwell Way, West Thurrock, the speculative 4,278sq m high bay distribution unit with dock and level loading built by Helios Property, is under offer.

Further afield at the Fortress Distribution Park in Tilbury, 37 acres is available for development by Port of Tilbury London. P&O’s London Gateway development at Stanford le Hope is awaiting a Public Inquiry decision to the application for 930,000sq m of light industrial, industrial and warehousing with rail connection, a ‘Roll-on Roll-off’ ferry quay and a Container Port on the 773 acre former oil terminal.

Rents and prices for new units in the Thames Gateway area are amongst the lowest within the M25. Many companies including the international logistics and retail sectors are now considering this region rather than the high cost traffic congested western M25. The area benefits from a good labour pool, to improved trunk roads linking the M25 to the City of London and two of the UK’s largest out-of-town shopping centres at Lakeside and Bluewater.

Added to that are financial incentives, the current infrastructure and purposed public transport improvements, along with a range of ready-to-occupy new properties. All these factors will continue to draw the attention of occupiers and investors to this rapidly improving region.

Chip Mitton is partner at chartered surveyor Edwin Hill. Tel: 01322 285588.

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