Commercial property enquiries in Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire are remaining robust despite the economic climate, new evidence from inward investment agency InStaffs has suggested.
The agency said that while it had more than 1,200 properties on its availability database – the highest in its history – interest in smaller industrial units was still around normal levels. However, interest in large commercial units and distribution hubs remains largely flat.
The data is compiled in the agency’s latest Property Market Trends (PMT) report, which analyses commercial property activity in Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire during the period from last October to the end of March this year.
Overall, InStaffs said it had received 638 new client registrations during the period – up from 570 in the previous six months. The level of property enquiries has also been encouraging with 1,068 being made between October last year and the end of March.
John de Kanter, chief executive of InStaffs, said: “The statistical trends show a considerable reduction in the number of enquiries for larger industrial units. However, demand for smaller units remains reasonably robust across both industrial and office.
“This was also reflected in the InStaffs’ results for 2008-09 where the overall number of enquiries has held up well in the recession and there were 36 new inward investments recorded.”
In Cannock Chase district, Rugeley’s Towers Business Park and neighbouring G Park – home of the huge Flair distribution warehouse – were property hotspots, while elsewhere in the district sites such as Ridings Park, Hawks Green, Norton Canes Business Park and South Staffordshire Business Park attracted interest.
There was also interest from potential investors in the Dell site at Four Ashes, near Wolverhampton. Units on the neighbouring Calibre Industrial Park also proved popular.
The Lichfield Road Industrial Estate in Tamworth also proved a popular site with would-be investors as did Kingsbury Link, the Tame Valley Business Centre and Calico Business Park.
The premium nature of industrial property in Tamworth means it now commands the highest price per sq ft (£5.34) anywhere in Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire. Tamworth also boasts the highest office values in the area at £12.19 per sq ft. The borough’s close proximity to Birmingham is thought to be a major factor in the price scales.
The last undeveloped plot on the Britannia Enterprise Park in Lichfield has also attracted interest while Chasewater Heath Business Park at Burntwood has also been sought out by potential investors.
The activity supports the view of InStaffs that commercial property enquiries in Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire are remaining robust despite the economic climate.
The organisation has been further encouraged by a good turnout at its latest Developing Staffordshire event, held at the prestigious Blue Planet complex at Chatterley Valley.
Almost 100 delegates from across the commercial property sector attended the event to hear how the latest trends were impacting on Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire.
Across the area as a whole, Stoke-on-Trent and Newcastle-under-Lyme enjoyed a strong level of interest with the former accounting for more than one quarter (26 per cent) of all property searches carried out during the period.
Of all the property searches, those for industrial space accounted for the highest number of enquiries (slightly over 9,500 or 57 per cent). Searches for office accommodation amounted to 18 per cent of all searches during the period.
Search patterns suggest that there has been a large increase in demand for smaller industrial units. Enquiries for units of less than 3,000sq ft have seen a 19 per cent increase on the previous six months.
In contrast, demand for units of 50,000sq ft and above has seen a 20 per cent decrease on the period between April and September last year. Units of 100,000sq ft and above now account for 53 per cent of all available industrial floorspace in the area but only two per cent of available units.
Altogether there has been a nine per cent increase in the period October 2008 to the end of March in the amount of available industrial space. Available office space saw a 23 per cent increase on the previous six months.
Land searches also produced some interesting results with enquiries for plots up to nine acres increasing by 14 per cent while demand for larger plots waned. Land availability decreased significantly in Cannock Chase and East Staffordshire due to the completion of large long-term developments.
Notable projects around the area include Stoke-on-Trent’s University Quarter, which promises to provide a world-class education facility, while the announcement at this year’s MIPIM conference of the approved developer – Genr8 – for the Central Business District scheme means work can progress on this ambitious scheme.
Elsewhere, Gazeley’s Blue Planet complex is setting the benchmark for not just the logistics sector but the property world in general.
The £50 million centre has now become the first development in the world to be awarded the BREEAM (Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method) ‘Outstanding’ rating. The accolade is the highest sustainable rating awarded in property development.
When finally completed, the scheme will see the transformation of the 31 acre brownfield site at Chatterley Valley into one of the greenest logistics parks in the country.
“The bottom line is that the impact of the recession on the commercial property market in Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire is not all doom and gloom. It is just that the make-up of enquiries has shifted,” Mr de Kanter said.