There’s a bit of a renaissance going on in Swindon that could mean a plethora of opportunities for occupiers in this often overlooked town.
Tunde Adegbemile of DTZ Debenham Tie Leung points out that there isn’t very much happening in the way of big shed development along the rest of the M4 corridor until you get to Swindon – so news that it is going through a bit of a purple patch will create a lot of developer confidence especially when you look at the rest of the M4 corridor.
Looking at Slough, Adegbemile says there are one or two opportunities. SEGRO (formerly Slough Estates) is developing a 60,000 sq ft warehouse on Galvin Road at the Slough Trading Estate – it is the largest speculative warehouse the company has ever built on the estate.
SEGRO’s confidence to build has been spurred by the fact that its 50,000 sq ft Kubik warehouse at 115 Buckingham Avenue is now under offer close to the quoting rent of £10.75 per sq ft through letting agent DTZ Debenham Tie Leung. The building boasts 10m eaves and four electric surface level doors with the opportunity for a further four as well as 101 car parking spaces.
It is not a natural distribution location however it has its own historical manufacturing base and this generates the need for close links with distribution companies and the requirement for facilities. Adegbemile says there is a further 10-acre plot on Galvin Road, which could accommodate up to 180,000 sq ft. In addition to this space there is a 70,000 sq ft warehouse on Bath Road owned by Imperial Tobacco Pension Fund where joint agents DTZ Debenham Tie Leung and Main Allen are quoting £9.50 per sq ft. And there is also the 28,000 sq ft Swan Stabilo building on Ajax Avenue where Lambert Smith Hampton is joint agent with DTZ Debenham Tie Leung.
Adegbemile laments the fact that there is a dearth of industrial supply going along the M4 corridor. “It’s not until you get to Swindon that there’s any real action.”
However, he does concede that there are pockets. Joint agents CB Richard Ellis and GVA Grimley are marketing Unit 2, a 256,000 sq ft spec build warehouse at G.Park Thames Valley for Gazeley. Unit 1 is let to Scottish & Newcastle. The warehouse boasts 12m eaves, 25 dock levellers and two level access doors, a 50kN/sqm floor loading and yard with a depth of 50m. It also has car parking for 135 and 19 HGV spaces all within a secure fenced area accessed through a dedicated gatehouse.
But from here to Swindon there is very little to report in the way of opportunities. The big news once you do get to the town is that recently there have been a number of deals including two major retailers, a car parts supplier and a DVD manufacturer – all this leads to a renewed confidence and a spate of planning applications heralding the onset of big shed development.
Supermarket retailer Wm Morrison has just signed up to a 302,000 sq ft warehouse at ProLogis Park Swindon. The deal has been done at £5.25 per sq ft for a five-year lease with a three-year break. The building boasts 21,000 sq ft of offices as a well as 12m eaves, a 50kN/sq m floor loading, and 24 dock and six level access doors. It has 50m deep yards 150 car parking spaces and room for 48 trucks all on a 15.03-acre secure site. Letting agents were King Sturge and Knight Frank.
In addition, Legal & General’s Keypoint warehouse has also gone under offer to a major retailer leaving very little on the market and spurring developers to take the plunge and develop speculatively. “It is now likely,” says Rob Russel of DTZ Debenham Tie Leung, “that Legal & General will develop a 127,000 sq ft warehouse on the back of that deal and then after that there is a further seven acres available for a pre-let which could accommodate 145,000 sq ft. We are already in discussions with a couple of interested parties.”
James Lockhart of Whitmarsh Lockhart adds: “In addition, just round the corner at Graftongate’s 90,000 sq ft Merlin Building Honda components supplier SDC, has taken a five-year lease with breaks at just under the quoting rent of £6 per sq ft, allowing it to deliver on a just-in-time basis.
These deals will certainly spur Gazeley to firm up its plans for the Triangle site. The developer is currently sorting out the final touches to the Section 106 agreement says Lockhart. “The 100-acre site can accommodate up to 1.5m sq ft and there’s not many sites west of London that could on that scale. Swindon has great potential and there is a further site available at J16 admittedly five years away but it is right next to the London to Bristol mainline and could be a rail connected site.
“It’s a cracking site of about 124 acres all part of the southern development area allocated as a major extension of Swindon which could provide 4,000 houses less than a mile from junction 16 of the M4 motorway. It is all owned by the council which has been talking about what they want on the site, some of the earlier ideas were about offices but the rebuilding of the town centre and a change in attitudes about town centres and putting offices in them as part of a sustainable development policy rather than out on motorway junctions mean that distribution could be accommodated here.”
Russell Crofts of Knight Frank reckons there is a lot of life in the old dog yet. “All it would take is for Honda to up its production, then suppliers would need bigger buildings just like that!”
Lockhart adds that Swindon is comparatively good value for money and the planning regime is less constrained that in Slough and Reading. The A419 upgrade makes it a very good location for both Birmingham and London. Aldi is expanding its RDC, he points out.