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Northamptonshire....Poised for new development

wantspacegotspace.co.uk - prop-search, Sam Jones - Northamptonshire....Poised for new developmentWhilst the economic climate and restrictions on lending have put constraints on development within Northamptonshire, the County is poised for new schemes to be brought forward reports commercial property agent Prop-Search.

The one and only speculative development scheme to have taken place in the County, during 2012 is the new Jordan Technology Park near Silverstone, opposite the Silverstone race circuit - just off the A43.  The 15 unit park is in the heart of ‘Motorsport Valley’, which is home to around a third of the UK’s top motorsport engineering companies, employing nearly 40,000 people and contributing £35 billion to the UK economy.  

The purpose-built, high quality business units offer accommodation from just under 5,000 sq ft to approaching 11,500 sq ft, on a freehold or leasehold basis.  It is hoped that this new scheme will attract further motorsport research and development companies, and high power engineering firms.

In Northampton town centre, West Northamptonshire Development Corporation (WNDC) is seeking potential developers for a prominent, commercial-led scheme opposite the Railway Station.  This site is situated within the Northampton Enterprise Zone and Phase One of St Peter’s Waterside will comprise a 161,500 sq ft office led development.  

The land is part of a growing commercial district with neighbouring regeneration projects on the immediate horizon.  Opposite the site, construction of a new and improved £20m railway station will start in 2013, while the site also borders a planned £7.5m Innovation Centre.  It is envisaged that the Innovation Centre will represent the first phase of development and act as a catalyst for the redevelopment of the remaining land.

WNDC is in the process of acquiring land for Phase One - it has already acquired a range of commercial and residential properties and in May 2012 lodged a Compulsory Purchase Order to conclude its acquisition plans.  The Order comprises of approximately 2.4 hectares of land located between St Peter’s Way and the Brampton branch of the River Nene, extending from Black Lion Hill in the West to Towcester Road in the East.  St Peter’s Way and Towcester Road form two important gateways into Northampton town centre and as such, the Order and wider St Peter’s Waterside Area represents a key opportunity to bring forward new investment in the town.

The £250m Grosvenor Centre development in the town centre has unfortunately been delayed again.  It is understood that the shopping centre’s owner, Legal & General, has informed Northampton Borough Council that it is unlikely to move forward with the current planning application due to the economic conditions, which mean that the proposed scheme is not viable.

Whilst Legal & General is said to be fully commitment to retail regeneration and investment in the town centre, it feels that retailing needs should be reassessed, particularly in light of the recent spate of retailer administrations, as well as the threat of proposed out-of-town schemes elsewhere in the County.  Legal & General will now undertake a further review of the scale and phasing of the scheme.

On the edge of the town centre, a 26 acres site occupying a prime location and forming part of the established Brackmills Industrial Estate - already home to national occupiers including Coca Cola, Travis Perkins and Panasonic - has been released by Roxhill Developments.  Brackmills Point can accommodate up to 420,000 sq ft of distribution warehousing and can offer a maximum single unit size of 310,000 sq ft.  The site is fully serviced and ready for immediate development on a freehold or leasehold basis, and is believed to be the only opportunity for design and build development of this scale in the town.

Elsewhere in Northamptonshire, East Northamptonshire Council has just approved LXB Retail Properties’ planning application for a £40m development of the 31 acre Rushden Lakes retail scheme.  The full application is for the development of up to 450,000 sq ft to include a home and garden centre, retail units, drive-thru and seated restaurants and lakeside visitor centre - as part of a comprehensive shopping park.  Work could start on the site, which would create up to 1,500 new jobs, as early as Summer 2013 - although the application will now be referred to the Secretary of State for the Environment for final approval.

Just up the road, an extension to Warth Park at Raunds has received outline planning consent.  Roxhill, in a joint venture with Warth Developments, has secured planning to double the size of the scheme which is already home to Indesit (450,000 sq ft), Gem Distribution (250,000 sq ft), Avery Dennison (90,000 sq ft) and Robert Wiseman Dairies (65,000 sq ft).  

The extension includes 70 acres for distribution/industrial units up to 850,000 sq ft and 10 acres at the front of the site, forming a gateway to the development and to Raunds itself from the A45, for uses including hotel, health & fitness, family pub/restaurant, crèche and smaller scale commercial units.

Last month, the developer submitted a full planning application for the development of a 42,000 sq ft facility for Geopost.  The national parcel delivery company already has a base in Rushden and it is believed that this expansion would increase staff numbers from 60 to 150.  If consent is granted, Geopost could be in occupation as early as September 2013.

Generally, whilst there seems to be a good supply of business sites ripe for development in the County, some of which already consented, the medium-term supply is in reality limited.  Activity remains centered around pre-let/sales and this is likely to continue for the foreseeable future.  Until there is more liquidity and confidence within the UK banking sector - and relaxation of void business rates and increasingly onerous building regulations - it is hard to see this changing.

Posted by The Editor (wantspacegotspace) on 13th November 2012

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