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Slim up north

Put a big red circle round 15th October – according to the latest data, this is when Yorkshire will run out of good modern logistics floorspace, says David Thame.

Six and a half months – that’s how long it will take to use the existing supply of vacant logistics units in the region, according to surveyors Lambert Smith Hampton.


The prediction is hedged around with ifs and buts. It all depends what you mean by “available” “good” “modern” and “logistics” – but the message is clear enough and it boils down to this: there’s not a lot of big sheds in Yorkshire.

Data from JLL suggests the region has around 1.7m sq ft of speculatively-built supply remaining from last decade’s building boom – a relatively generous figure, much higher than in other Northern regions. But they agree this supply is shrinking fast.
Little wonder, then, that Harworth Estates announced it would be the first to build a new speculative warehouse scheme in Yorkshire since 2007.

As trailed by in December, last month Harworth Estates signed a deal with Rotherham Council to forward sell and fund a 100,000 sq ft scheme at Rotherham’s Advanced Manufacturing site. Completion is planned for October.

But it is a sign that Yorkshire’s market isn’t quite as robust as rival regions that speculative development has required public sector support. Forward-funding for the scheme is coming from Rotherham Council and a £2.7m loan from a European Union property investment fund.

The site has Enterprise Zone status – and there are still 68 acres awaiting development.

Harworth has also been preparing itself for more build-to-suit deals. Together with shareholder Peel Group it has created a trans-Pennine logistics partnership covering 66 key sites, up to 60,000 acres, and potentially providing up to 60m sq ft of warehousing. Around one-third of the sites are in Yorkshire.

Developers will be encouraged by a distinct up-step in the pace of deal making. Marks & Spencer’s decision to sign up for 626,000 sq ft at the Sheffield International Railfreight Terminal was a coup for the landlords because the premises had been empty since completion in 2006. Worse, they are slated for potential demolition to make way for the HS2 high-speed rail line. M&S was undaunted, and the deal went through on a 10-year lease. Investors have since bought the M&S buildings for £32.2m.

M&S will now refocus its 1.1m sq ft warehouse at Prologis Park, Bradford to handle clothing and homewear.
Since the M&S signing, deals have kept coming. Wren Kitchens bought the 801,350 sq ft former Kimberly Clark facility at Barton-upon-Humber. The 408,000 sq ft taken by SCA Timber Supplies and additional 140,000 sq ft taken by ASOS in Barnsley have also helped make a large dent in the over-supply levels. Music retailer has signed up for the 135,000 sq ft former Magsons warehouse at Clifton Moor, York.

Developers are preparing for more. Gazeley, the logistics developer, has moved back into the Yorkshire market  acquiring a 281,000 sq ft property at Wakefield Europort, whilst Verdion’s 6m sq ft Doncaster iPort warehouse scheme could welcome its first occupiers next year (see pages 26/7). The master plan includes six buildings from 1 million sq ft, each with high-bay facilities of up to 35m.

Verdion has appointed Gent Visick, CBRE and Cushman & Wakefield as letting agents for the project at  Rossington, near Doncaster.
CBRE is also on-hand to let Wilton Developments’ 135,000 sq ft Latitude 135 industrial scheme at Latitude Park near Wakefield.

That Yorkshire is running short of good new logistics floorspace is certain. That it will have run out by October seems a little less so, depending which data you chose to read. But if it isn’t October, it will be sometime soon.  

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