The common theme of the last 12 months has been a continued rise in occupier and investment demand throughout the UK and this has been mirrored in Wellingborough. As a result of a shortage of supply coming through - and demand still rising - rent expectations, across all sectors, continues to point to strong growth in the near term.
The industrial sector has been the town’s top performing asset, retaining and attracting a healthy mix of local, regional and national occupiers. However, as a result of the UK’s insatiable appetite for online retail, the largest transaction has been at new business park being developed to the west of the town.
The logistics firm Yusen Logistics (UK) Limited has signed up for the first unit at Prologis Park Wellingborough West, a new 110-acre development with planning permission for a total of 2.15 million sq ft. Prologis has agreed a pre-let with Yusen Logistics for a 379,000 sq ft distribution centre, which could create up to 2,500 jobs
Yusen has operated from the neighboring Park Farm Industrial Estate Wellingborough for many years and the town has proved to be an ideal location for its business. Its expansion plans to meet growing customer demand have reportedly led to its decision to secure the new building at Prologis Park. Construction of the facility has already started and is expected to be completed in early 2018.
Given the shortage of modern industrial and logistics space in East Midlands, it is reported that Prologis’s new development is attracting a great deal of interest both from existing occupiers and companies new to the town. Buildings from 80,000 sq ft to 700,000 sq ft can be accommodated. And in line with Prologis’ approach to sustainable development, each unit will be designed and constructed to achieve a minimum BREEAM ‘very good’ accreditation and the best EPC rating possible for its size.
The Borough Council of Wellingborough is also keen to promote the town as the gateway to North Northamptonshire for businesses looking for good road and rail connections. Whilst it offers a key industrial location, there is also the need for new jobs to support the town’s growing population with the town looking to deliver 7,000 new homes by 2031.
The Council’s target is for the creation of 6,100 new jobs over the same period. This target is ambitious and will look to support the scale and mix of employment uses in the approved master plans of the sustainable urban extensions such as Prologis Park West and other large strategic employment sites.
Areas such as Station Island at Wellingborough East are identified as an opportunity for providing high quality Grade A offices - which are limited elsewhere in the Borough - and 65% of new jobs through general office, manufacturing and warehousing/distribution, however these sites are not yet available. So whilst the Council’s Employment Land Review demonstrates - on paper - a portfolio of committed sites sufficient to meet business needs, these are as yet unavailable to satisfy the pent up demand already evident in the local market.
Furthermore, the mix of development planned may not fully address the latent and future occupier demand - and in reality - the capacity of the current allocations are insufficient for the occupier ‘pipeline’ now becoming apparent from the increasing enquiry flow. Subsequently, there is fear that potential new employment opportunities could be lost to neighbouring towns where buildings are already coming out of the ground.
The Borough Council is also looking to regenerate the town centre to support Wellingborough’s expanding population. It is seeking a long term partner to develop up to 23 town centre sites, over the next decade, in a bid to regenerate the town as it was ‘not considered to be a destination shop’ and that parts looked ‘tired and date’ having seen no major development since the 1970s.
There is already a high proportion of independent operators, especially outside of the Swansgate shopping centre and this is something which could be built upon in order to create a more specialist retail offer that sets it apart from other destinations. It is considered that further improvements are required to create a vibrant location to which local businesses want to invest and trade and where people want to visit and spend time as part of their leisure time.
Overall, the vitality and viability of Wellingborough has been positively maintained in recent years, which acts as an important driver towards the stability of economic performance and growth of the town. It is paramount that the town’s strengths are promoted and built upon.
Further information or advice can be obtained from Prop-Search - Tel: 01933 223300 / 01604 492000 or its website: www.prop-search.com