North West Land and Development Update

The ongoing UK land shortage is well reported and impacting logistics strategy; the recent Place North West Logistics lunch focused on land development opportunities in the North West and makes for interesting reading. The below represents a condensed overview, there was some representation from London firms and a general feeling that what is being seen in the NW is representative of the UK in general.

Highlights:

  • Speculative developments on the increase for 100k+ sqft units;
  • Lease lengths extending to 10 years+ for new builds;
  • Ongoing shortage of Grade A both new and existing;
  • Rent was £4-4.50 per sq ft now more like £4.50-5 with new builds pushing £6+.

Notable Recent Land Sales:
Whitebirk – Eurogarages bought and are developing,
Burnley Bridge – Exertis bought and developed.

Notable Development/Shed Take up:

  • Aldi – Logistics North
  • XPO (Missguided) – Trafford Park
  • Dominos – Omega
  • The Hut Group – Omega
  • Plastic Omnium – Omega

Existing Grade A Uptake:

  • B&M – 816k sqft
  • AOL – 380k sqft
  • Amazon – 163k sqft

Currently there is only 1.3m sqft of Grade A available across 8 buildings, including a site in Deeside that has been vacant for nearly 10 years.

Speculative Developments:

  • In recent years 16 spec sheds above 100k sqft were built with amazon taken nearly half of the footprint;
  • There are 5 building between 50-100k sqft but the lease terms are proving troublesome.

Current Speculative Build by Location:

  • Manchester – 8 (1.5m sqft)
  • Cheshire – 3 (717k sqft)
  • Merseyside – 1 (175k sqft)
  • Lancashire – 1 (185k sqft)

New Developments

  • Location remains the key factor in new developments with businesses requiring strategic geographical presence;
  • There is currently a list of build to suit locations and over 30 plans and proposal out;
  • Concern around the referendum has stalled new building sign off;
  • Extensive planning processes are slowing down developments as residential schemes are taking priority over commercial proposals.

Contract Terms

  • The investors are in a strong position currently and as such dictating terms;
  • Lease terms are lengthening (new build 10 years+, existing Grade A 5+);
  • Missguided – had to take a 10 year site deal but only 4 year contract with XPO;
  • 3PLs are losing negotiation power despite procurement teams getting involved;
  • Lack of cost control because of limited supply;
  • Unfavourable terms including limited break out clauses.

General Thoughts

  • A Perception that 3PLs are looking for multi-user sites to reduce contract risk;
  • Belief that business don’t like large units because they offer a ‘all eggs in 1 basket’ scenario;
  • If we stay in Europe there is anticipation for around 1m sqft of development to be announced in the autumn;
  • Multi-modal is talked about but a lack of understanding and infrastructure concerns are hampering this.

The event is strongly attended by developers, agents and architects who focus on logistics developments and what was interesting is a general lack of understanding about logistics businesses and their operations. There is an apparent lack of understanding around long term business strategies; sheds are seen as a solution for storing and moving boxes, no consideration is given for leveraging the supply chain or providing added value services.

What is apparent is that when weighing up site options logistics providers and retailers need to be firm about their requirements and not give into the ‘shortage of land so take what you can get’ argument.

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