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Capitalising on inward investment

Arcadia fulfilment centre at DIRFT

Being situated within the ‘Golden Triangle’ of logistics, with excellent road and rail connectivity, Daventry - whilst being a mainly rural district - has capitalised on its location to draw in inward investment.

It is just over 20 years since the Daventry International Rail Freight (DIRFT) first became operational - with the development of a 475,000 sq ft facility for the road haulage operator Eddie Stobart - being officially opened in November 1997 by HRH Princess Royal.  At this time, the DIRFT development was divided into three sections: DIRFT Central of 40 acres; DIRFT East of some 130 acres, and DIRFT South offering 140 acres. 

Over the next 10 years, the site was primarily developed by Severn Trent Property, with other early occupiers including Royal Mail, Tesco and Mothercare.   In 2004, 74 acres of undeveloped land on the site, with a capacity for 1,400,000 sq ft of warehousing, was sold to a joint venture between British Land and Rosemund.  British Land subsequently let its holding to several customers including a 750,000 sq ft warehouse to Tesco in 2005. 

A year later, Severn Trent Property was acquired by global logistics real estate investment giant, Prologis.  At this point the 364 acre site had been developed to provide a rail terminal and comprised a 130 acre expansion site, which Prologis subsequently developed to provide rail-connected buildings for Tesco (840,000 square feet); Sainsbury’s (1 million square feet) and Eddie Stobart (420,000 square feet).

With an increasing number of companies realising that transporting goods by rail was cost effective, reliable and more environmentally friendly - coupled with the boom in e-commence - Prologis is now expanding the site by 7.8 million sq ft of rail-served logistics space.  This includes a new rail terminal which is anticipated to being around 9,000 new jobs to the area. 

Last year work within this third phase commenced with the development of a 404,000 sq ft state-of-the-art fulfilment centre for the Arcadia Group, which includes high street brands such as Wallis, Dorothy Perkins, Topshop and Burtons, and a 115,800 speculative unit now available to let.  Buildings works are reportedly nearing completion.

Capitalising on the desirability of DIRFT as an established core logistics location, Tritax Big Box has exchanged contracts to acquire the National Distribution Centre let to Royal Mail Group Limited.  A reported £48.82 million has been paid for the 272,603 sq ft facility; purpose-built in 2003 to provide a modern, high specification parcel delivery hub.  The cross-docked property has an eaves height of between six and 13 metres, 360-degree circulation and an extensive service yard area.  The investment has been acquired with an unexpired lease term of approximately six years.

Work has this year begun to deliver a new £2.3 million purpose-built UK sales and service headquarters for the laser systems company Coherent (Rofin-Baasel UK).  Daventry District Council is constructing the 19,000 sq ft facility on land it owns off Newnham Drive on the Heartlands Business Park, with the build being funded from the Council’s capital budget - money that is specially used to invest in land and property.  It is expected that the building will be completed in July this year, at which time Coherent (Rofin-Baasel UK) will relocate from its existing premises on the Drayton Fields Industrial Estate and lease the new unit from the Council for a term of 15 years. 

A unique project to build a world-class aerodynamic testing facility - known as the Catesby Aero Research Facility - within a disused Victorian railway tunnel is now underway, after being awarded £4.2 million in Government funding.  The contribution towards the Facility has been agreed by the South East Midlands Enterprise Partnership (SEMLEP) from the £59 million awarded to the region through the Local Growth Fund.  The project by Brackley based Aero Research Partners (ARP) will see the perfectly straight, 2.7km-long tunnel remodelled with the installation of a smooth asphalt roadway, lighting and end closures amongst other substantial upgrades.

Construction on building the roads to gain access to the Catesby Aero Research Facility on the A361 begun earlier this year and when completed, the project will comprise the only aerodynamic testing facility of its kind available for hire in the world.  It would be expected to attract interest from customers across the globe, ranging from cycling and race car teams to major vehicle manufacturers.  The site will also house a 4.5 acre science park with offices, workshop units, and a research facility and would create around 50 new jobs.

Daventry’s promise to deliver a new retail core has also moved one step closer.  At the end of last year, planning permission was granted by Daventry District Council for a new mixed-use retail and leisure development north-west of the town centre, which will see the open air swimming pool and gas works developed to provide a food hall-style store and retail units, a family restaurant, a fast food restaurant with a drive-through, a hotel and around 380 parking spaces

The retail scheme is being brought forward by the Council’s development partner Henry Boot Developments Limited, which has reportedly negotiated lease terms with several national retailers.  The application is now being referred to the Secretary of State for consideration; a process in line with similar schemes before planning consent is formally issued.  However, work could start imminently on clearing and preparing the land for the development, with construction hopefully starting on-site late Summer/Autumn, with the new shops opening their doors before Christmas 2019.

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Friday, June 15, 2018