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Dilapidations not a new phenomenon for Moulton Park says Richard Baker, Director at Prop-Search

wantspacegotspace.co.uk - Dilapidations not a new phenomenon for Moulton Park says Richard Baker, Director at Prop-SearchSince its creation in the 1970s by the old Development Corporation, some 40 plus years later, Moulton Park Industrial Estate has become a major centre of employment and job creation.  But it’s story beings much earlier according to commercial property agent Prop-Search.

From as early as the 11th century, two small estates in ‘Muletone’ are mentioned in the Domesday Book as parkland belonging to Northampton Castle.  In 1235 it became a royal hunting park and at this time a wall was built around it.  This brought about the subject of who should pay for the walls maintenance - proof that ‘dilapidations’ is not a new phenomenon!!!

The present king, Edward III was liable but clearly was reluctant to reduce the royal purse, so persuaded his jurors to transfer the responsibility on the men of surrounding villages.  This proved an unpopular tact and in 1276 six men were arraigned before the court in Higham Ferrers for having neglected their repairing obligations for 16 years.

But that was not the end of Moulton Park’s repairing woes.  Over the centuries a succession of noble families had been keepers of Moulton Park until, in 1560, it was in a serious state of disrepair, with virtually no oaks left at all - some 30 years earlier ‘oaks for posts and rails with lops, tops and bark’ were taken from Moulton Park for ‘enlarging the park at Hartwell and building a lodge there’.  

Within Moulton Park there had been two lodges, both of which were crumbling while the wall round the park was, in places, so low ‘that neither deer nor other beasts could be kept there’.  It would have cost over £66 to repair the wall and more than 30 oaks would be needed to repair the rails and gates.

In 1576, Christopher Hatton - who later became Lord Chancellor - was granted custody of the park and presumably he had no idea what he had let himself in for.  Perhaps this is why, in 1583, he embarked on a major project to build Holdenby House.  

If we have learnt anything from the mistakes of our ancestors, it is that it is always advisable for occupiers, whether freeholders or leaseholders to have a regular maintenance programme in place.  This can save on sudden costs and in terms of leasehold premises, reduce the dilapidations liability.  

When core business funding starts to compete with the cost of maintaining a building, it is usually the maintenance budget that suffers.  Whilst these might not appear to have any immediate effect on its condition, over a period of time the building can deteriorate unnoticed by those closest to it.  Owner occupiers have an option whether or not to maintain their premises - but tenants do not.

Richard Baker, a Director of Prop-Search, says: “Today, Moulton Park is an established estate, home to a number of major businesses including Nationwide, the Robert Horne Group plc, UPS and Great Bear.  Over the last year it has experienced reduced take-up levels, along with the rest of the town - region - country!  This is associated with relatively low levels of supply and demand.”

Within Northampton between 2000-2008 annual take-up levels for offices in Northampton were in the region of 200,000 sq ft and for industrial/warehouse premises approximately 1,500,000 sq ft.  In the last year these take-up levels have been reduced by 75% for offices and 25% for industrial/warehouse.  However the industrial/warehouse figures are distorted by several large scale transactions, with the actual number of completed deals for buildings of less than 25,000 sq ft being reduced by 75%.

Most of the market activity within Moulton Park has been within smaller size ranges of between 2,000 and 5,000 sq ft in locations such as Tenter Road and Charter Gate.  There are only limited opportunities for new properties to be constructed on the estate - with the main opportunity being the former Plastmo Profiles site on Lower Farm Road, comprising approximately 4.6 acres.

It is anticipated that the levels of supply will increase over the next year or so.  However with opportunities few and far between it is important that businesses take advice from a proactive agent to ensure that all opportunities are maximised.

Posted by The Editor (wantspacegotspace) on 23rd March 2013 (updated 10/05/2013)

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