Harris Lamb Blog – 24th Feb

Neil Slade

24th February, 2011.

Automotive Industry Driving Midlands Property Requirements.

By Neil Slade, Commecial Agency.

It makes a change for the Automotive Sector to be making headlines for all the right reasons in the UK.  The relative health of the automotive sector and its continuing ability to innovate and push ahead in its worldwide markets has meant many of the Midlands manufacturing plants are looking to expand their businesses.

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.
For the positive effects of the Toll Road you may look little further than the development and opportunity is has created alongside it.

The implications for the property sector that we have seen show a growing level of new property requirements that are related to the automotive sectors around the West Midlands.

At the beginning of February, for instance, Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) announced they were set to create 1,000 engineering jobs as part of its next step “towards becoming a billion pound company”.  There has also been an announcement that Spyker, the Dutch Supercar manufacturer, is creating 40 new skilled jobs in Coventry as it ramps up production of its new “Supercar” the C8 Aileron all from a new bespoke assembly plant close to the producer CPP’s main facility on Seven Stars Industrial Estate in Coventry.

The depreciation of the pound over recent years has been of benefit across the manufacturing sector in the UK.  The published figures in the last round of GDP numbers showed manufacturing as the strongest part – up 1.4% and the Purchasing Managers Index (PMI) showed activity in the manufacturing sector expanding at its fastest rate in its 19 year history.  This health in manufacturing in the UK is being aided by the Midland automotive industry.

In property terms we are seeing a range of requirements for factory and distribution space.  The requirements are from Tier 1 automotive suppliers as well as from supporting companies.  Size requirements are in a range generally from 30,000 sq. ft. up to 250,000 sq. ft. and the emphasis geographically is, in the main, to be in close proximity to JLR’s existing plants and the BMW engine plant at Hams Hall.

At Harris Lamb we are acting for a couple of automotive suppliers and their requirement criteria are exacting but we are managing to place and match the requirements we have by virtue of our market knowledge and working side by side with our clients.

If you have a property requirement and would like advice and help in looking for the ideal solutions we may be able to help.

Neil can be reached on 0121 455 9455 or via email: neil.slade@harrislamb.com.   

Disclaimer: The views expressed within this article or weblog (‘blog’) are the personal views of the contributors and authors only and do not necessarily reflect the views of any named companies or thier employees.