The take up of industrial and warehouse premises grew in 2016 by 50% according to property experts Whitmarsh Lockhart, who handled three quarters of the total floorspace transacted in the town.
Across Swindon last year, over 1.4 million square feet of industrial/warehouse space was sold or let, and of this Whitmarsh Lockhart was responsible for securing new occupiers for 75% of this space – just over 1 million square feet or the equivalent of 15 football pitches of employment space.
Major deals secured by the firm, which is one of the largest commercial agents in the town, include 209,720sq ft for the relocation of Cooper Tires warehouse from Melksham to Swindon’s iconic Spectrum building situated in West Swindon, and 199,646sq ft to Amazon for a new delivery station at South Marston Park.
In addition to enabling businesses to move into Swindon, Whitmarsh Lockhart’s deals have also supported the expansion and development of established businesses in the town, with TS Tech moving to Groundwell to be closer to Honda, together with Howard Tenens’ acquisition of the 215,000 sq ft former Triumph building at Groundwell.
Paul Whitmarsh, Partner at Whitmarsh Lockhart, said: “Swindon’s commercial market has reached levels last seen in 2007 and has remained buoyant in the past 12 months even with a fortnight’s initial uncertainty around Brexit.
Although funding wariness due to Brexit slowed some commercial developers from forging ahead with speculative development, we have seen virtually no impact to the level of occupier demand and transactions.
“However, what we are likely to see is the market slowing this year due to a lack of good quality industrial/warehouse stock coming onto the market to meet the demand, which will ultimately increase market rents and capital values. In Swindon we see a steady demand for smaller units no matter what the rest of the market is doing.
“We also know that there is an overall lack of building availability across the South of England and although Swindon has a high percentage of commercial property compared to our local key cities, in some cases we’re being passed over in favour of places like Milton Keynes and Avonmouth as we’re not able to provide either the building stock or commercial development land. A third of enquiries coming to the South are from manufacturers – a key industry for Swindon – and so we are potentially missing out on a level of investment that could positively impact on our town.”
Chris Brooks, Associate Partner at Whitmarsh Lockhart, added: “Swindon provides businesses with a lot more opportunity than neighbouring towns and cities due to our location and links to other areas of the country, as well as being close enough to London but with significantly lower prices.
“Moving forward, making the market work for Swindon will be through matching businesses looking to move either before or at the very early stages of being on the market. As one of the largest commercial property agents in the area, the knowledge we have gained through working closely with businesses will put us in the position helping to identify those movers who can quite possibly swap properties to meet their own individual objectives.”