The price of sheds today! Land prices in the prime market around Heathrow have soared. Price rises are demand driven: there isn’t enough land to build on. So at ProLogis we have started to look for a solution to this problem. As a result, we are confident that we will be the first UK developer to build a two-storey warehouse.
Part of our confidence is market driven. With land prices as high as they are, we have to. It is becoming more difficult to build institutional-spec warehouses on land this valuable at the kind of rents the market will pay.
Another part of our confidence comes from our own suppliers. They are working on designs which make both engineering and financial sense. We even have clients interested, though discussions are at an early stage. And a third part of our confidence comes from our experience in foreign markets, where we have been building multi-storey sheds for years.
Japan leads the way in multi-storey shed construction. Where the UK property market is beginning to look at two-storey sheds, seven storeys are not unusual in Japan. ProLogis is a major force in the Japanese multi-storey market. This year, ProLogis built ProLogis Parc Maishima I, a 785,230 sq ft (72,950 sq m) six-storey, ramp-served facility in Osaka for a client. ProLogis has also started work on ProLogis Parc Tokyo II, a seven-storey, multi-tenant facility located in Koto ward, one of the prime logistics markets in Tokyo.
Graham McMorran, a director of architect Burks Green, has been leading our UK multi-storey shed project. “We looked at ProLogis’s experience in Japan,” he says. “What we’ve done is develop a UK version. The Japanese market is probably a little bit more advanced.”
When you start on a project like this, you look first at what others have done. One of our first stops was to look at what IKEA has built in the UK. We have prepared full design drawings for our first two-storey warehouse and a lot of the inspiration has come from IKEA’s buildings, which have warehousing on the ground floor and showrooms on top. We know B&Q is looking at schemes on the same layout, too.
Retailers – even retail warehouse users – have more money to spend than logistics companies. Other developers have said they plan to introduce two-storey warehouses into London for high-value sites but none have come out of the ground yet because the structure solution is too expensive.
This is where Barrett Steel Buildings comes in. ProLogis can sidestep some of the expense of the structure thanks to its close relationship with Barrett. Managing director Richard Barrett has made a speciality of two areas: design and build of sheds and design and build of multi-storey buildings. At the heart of our building concept, Barrett will provide a steel frame structure for the concrete floors. We will be able to provide the correct institutional floor loadings for both yards and buildings on both floors.
We want to create two sheds on top of each other that can be let to two different occupiers – and neither occupier will be especially aware of the other’s presence there. We will even segregate their car parking.
We are looking at two models for two-storey sheds. One has building on top of building and yard on yard, the other had building on yard and yard on building.
There will be no extra ventilation issues. Ventilation will come from normal use of doors being opened. “We’re trying to do this using as sustainable methods as possible,” says McMorran. “The development agency responsible for one of the areas where we are working on this project is keen to promote sustainable building.”
ProLogis sees this project as an investment in the future. We’re anticipating that, the way land values are increasing, especially in the South of England, this kind of development will become the norm. Building taller single-storey warehouses is not the answer. Once you go higher than 15 metres, the building requires automated handling, which can be appropriate but is often too expensive.