Industrial market roundup 2021
The industrial logistics sector across the country has recorded another bumper year. Investor demand remains particular high with a weight of money available for investment in key locations across our region. The supply of good quality stock remains low and occupancy levels are high, this is resulting in many occupiers are getting a shock when it comes to their rent review.
Take up of industrial space in Watford was up on 2020 at 204,247 sq.ft, a 58,000 sq.ft up tick on the previous year. This was across 39 transactions which, again, out performs 2020. While this would suggest growth in demand and supply, in truth, the demand was always there and it is still outstripping supply with vacancy levels at record lows across the region.
The largest transaction was the 29,000 sq.ft letting at Greatham Road Industrial Estate which was the scene of last years’ largest letting on the adjoining space. All this estate is now let.
Top rents continue to climb with headline levels consistently at circa £17 psf for the best space sub 10,000 sq.ft.
The total take up for the year was 303,263 sq.ft across 19 transactions. The largest of which was the completion of DC1 Prologis Park 150,923 sq.ft to a datacentre operator. The remaining 50% of the take up was across 18 transactions. Stock levels and unit size have been barriers to further success in this highly sought-after location.
At the end of the year Prologis took PC of DC234, this property is the largest and highest specified logistics unit built in Hemel Hempstead for 15 years. Stock levels remain low and rents have moved on again as a consequence circa £14.00psf. Landlords are also holding out for longer lease terms without breaks.
Welwyn Garden City
Total take up for Welwyn Garden City in 2021 fell just short of 2020, with a little under 105,000 sq.ft of space being let across 13 transactions. Interestingly nearly 75% of this was attributable to a single letting, namely the first deal at A1 Connect, Ashfords scheme on the eastern outskirts of the town, where local company PW Gates took the unit to enable them to relocate from an outdated town centre site.
Stripping this transaction out of the figures shows that with one exception, all transactions have involved units of less than 3,500 sq.ft, proving that the smaller end of the market is in rude health, with rents of c£15.00psf being comfortably achieved.
The lack of more sizeable lettings is wholly due to lack of available stock, with companies having to look further afield to towns with a more ready supply, with St Albans in particular benefitting in this regard.
2021 saw a huge increase in letting activity, with a little over 255,000 sq.ft of space transacted, representing a three-fold increase over 2020 figures. Included in this figure is the letting of Unit 7, Ventura Park, a building of c87,000 sq.ft which skews the figures slightly, but even ignoring this, 2021 was an excellent year. A total of 13 lettings were completed, meaning an average deal size of 19,700, or if one excludes the 87k unit, then this drops to 14,000 sq.ft, still quite sizeable compared to historical trends.
The North Orbital Commercial Park saw a further 4 lettings in 2021, resulting in the estate achieving 100% occupation, something that it has struggled to achieve for a good many years. Top rent for the year was achieved at 10 The Dencora Centre, where Easy Bathrooms took a 3,900 sq.ft unit at a rent of close to £17.00psf, admittedly for a trade counter type use. The former ATS unit in Lyon Way, a building of c6,200 sq.ft was let to Herts Garden Rooms at £16.00psf, the Landlord having bought the unit from ATS earlier in the year for letting purposes.
2022 Key industrial instructions
Ascent Logistics Park, Leighton Buzzard
Firethorn Trust are close to completing their second speculative scheme in the UK. The scheme comprises 8 units ranging in size from 14,140 Sq.ft to 123,490 Sq.ft. Practical Completion will be between now and end February 2022. The park presents an excellent opportunity to secure a unit within easy distance of junction 11a of the M1 motorway at a significant discount to locations further south. All units on the scheme benefit from excellent eaves height and large secure yards. We are pleased to report that interest in this scheme is very good and the units are going under offer, so please watch this space for further announcements. >
Acting on behalf of Wrenbridge & Bridges Fund Management, we are pleased to announce that planning has been secured for 3 units on North Road, Stevenage. Unit 2, 106,531Sq.ft is pre-let prior to construction commencing so the units are going fast! Unit 1, 73,593 Sq.ft and Unit 3, 25,736 Sq.ft remain available. We are also pleased to report that due to an additional land purchase Click, Stevenage will shortly be a 4 unit scheme subject to planning, further details to be announced. >
DC234 Prologis Park, Hemel Hempstead
Hemel Hempstead is located only 27 miles north west of Central London on junction 8 of the M1 which is only a mile or so from DC234. The new logistics unit of 234,971 Sq.ft has reached practical completion and the unit is the highest specified and largest unit built in Hemel Hempstead for the last 15 years. The property occupies a prominent position on the corner of Maylands Avenue and Breakspear Way with access through the established Prologis Park. Prologis continues to evolve their specification with the unit benefitting from additional external areas for staff and glazing between the offices and warehouse space. The unit is ideally placed to service the Greater London markets as demonstrated by the occupiers who have already made Prologis Park their home on the southern M1 corridor. >
Symmetry Park, Aston Clinton – Phase 2 Units 4, 5 & 6 – Under Construction
Following the success of phase 1 let to MBS, as a film studio and Global Infusion Group TritaxSymmetry are now on site building the second and final phase with completion due end May 2022.
Phase 2 has already seen early success with Pangea Laboratories signing a pre-let of Unit 4, 92,000 Sq.ft, the company are relocating from St Albans and during the negotiations have increased the office content to meet with their requirements. Unit 5 is 184,000 Sq.ft and Unit 6 is 115,000 Sq.ft are also to be delivered in this phase. >
Gatehouse Close, Aylesbury
Following the recent purchase of Gatehouse Close by Marchmont Investment Management planning is currently being worked up for a 5 unit scheme totalling 188,000 Sq.ft on 9 acres. Units range in size from 22,715 Sq.ft to 58, 850 Sq.ft and units can be combined. Further details and timing will be available on receipt of planning consent. >