Business Confidence – More Good News, Please!


Peter Wood

24th October, 2011.

Business Confidence – More Good News, Please!

By Peter Wood, Director, Investment.



The route provides 27 miles of privately funded and operated highway from Coleshill in North Warwickshire to Cannock in South Staffordshire.  The road carried an average 47,592 vehicles on weekdays in the summer of 2010  and from my experience of the Toll Road, private cars form the vast majority of the traffic.

The M6 Toll Road was identified as an “M6 Relief Road” to alleviate congestion on the M6, which is something many people feel has not been adequately addressed and, with one way car tolls at peak periods of £5, this is something to be debated elsewhere.

From a property perspective the benefits have probably been more tangible than the traffic improvements.  The southern end of the Toll Road and the ‘T1’ junction close to J4 M6 coincided with some of the latter stage build projects at the Hams Hall National Distribution Park, a 430 acre business park which ranks as one of the best such employment parks in the UK.

Junctions T2 and T3 appear to largely function as commuter gateways for those living to the south and east of Sutton Coldfield from where national motorway access has improved considerably and the effect on house prices has been positive in these areas.

The access to Junctions T4 and T5 at Weeford and Lichfield has given a stimulus to residential and commercial property markets alike with possibly the biggest winner being the 300 acre Fradley Park, where some of the largest distribution buildings in the area have been built with more to come.  We are marketing the new Fradley Prologis Scheme with 70 acres and units to 700,000 sq ft available to be built and which will be on site shortly.

T6 Burntwood, a forgotten part of the West Midlands conurbation 10 years ago for business and for new build residential perhaps, has not quite been “transformed” but certainly “considerably improved”.

T7 & T8 and the Cannock access points to the Toll Road provided the catalyst that has helped to promote the former coal mining town into a first rate employment location.  Significant development of a cross section of employment type accommodation from offices to manufacturing and warehouse operations has bought vitality to Cannock which I think is largely due to the Toll Road passing the town’s doorstep.

For those drivers who still regularly sit stationary on the M6 between junction 8 and 10 bemoaning the state of the traffic and whether the Toll Road has done the job it promised, the tangible benefits are probably in property as much as traffic counts.  The commercial new build and viability of new schemes along the entire length of the Toll Road has been transformed since the road was built.

One of my colleagues mentioned to me that he was contemplating giving up listening to the news because all it contained was “doom and gloom”.  Now, I’m not advocating a shutdown of the news across the board here, but promoting more ‘good news’, especially with regard to businesses, would surely do us all a favour?!

In an attempt to redress the balance, below are a few items I have read recently that made me think – “That looks encouraging.”

“The UK’s trade deficit narrowed in August as the export of goods hit a record high.”

An economist at IHS Global Insight was even moved to comment the figures were “appreciably better than expected.”

Another item under the headline “UK Manufacturing Activity Picks Up.”

This report concerned the Markit Purchasing Managers Index rising from 49.4 in August to 51.1 in September when economists had expected the index to fall slightly.

And in a week that saw record profits being announced by both Harrods and Poundland, plus house builders Bellway posting a 50% rise in profits, there are clearly a lot of people still successfully navigating their way around these challenging economic times.

Locally, we have also recently had the positive news confirming the development of the new JLR engine plant at Wolverhampton – an investment of over £350m creating up to 750 jobs (plus many more in the local supply chain).  This long term commitment to the region is also demonstrated by a due diligence task we ourselves have just been involved with for clients, where a business in Aldridge employing over 60 people was saved from closure; with the new owners looking to invest and grow a business which otherwise would have gone to the wall.

Dealing in property as we do, my colleagues and I get involved at the stage where developers plan and acquire land, running right through to building then letting and/or selling the finished product.  Granted, there can be challenges and uncertain patches during this process, but we all have to face up to reality. It is somewhat frustrating, therefore, that the ‘mood music’ seems so consistently down beat of late, and I can’t help but think we need to look at the positives a little more.

Here at Harris Lamb we are looking at further investment in our business as we believe there are opportunities for us out there.  Many of our clients are also in a state of mind and, more importantly, have the ability to complete new business. 

In the same way a coin has two faces; there can be two sides to every market. And if we all look for the success stories, perhaps it will allow us to spot the opportunities where we would usually see “doom and gloom”.

If you are thinking of relocating, selling or letting your commercial property, or if you just need some general advice, Peter would be eager to speak with you. Call him on 0121 4559455 or email          

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