The Squeeze on new warehouse and employment space.
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.
Whilst the UK and European economies continue to face daily challenges that spiral down to adversely affect business confidence here in the Midlands, sectors of the regional property market are standing firm with the supply of high quality warehousing and take up of land for bespoke new build opportunities gradually reducing and increasing respectively.
The property market is currently holding its breath over news of a prospective 800,000sqft Jaguar Land Rover engine plant being signed up at the 226-acre i54 site in Wolverhampton that, if confirmed, will not only generate approximately 1000 jobs but also bring welcome news to a region that has suffered more than most during the recession and already digesting major casualties including MG Rover, HP Sauce, Alstom and LDV. Spin off requirements will no doubt filter through that will further buoy the property market and wider economy.
Indeed, we are experiencing a sense of urgency within certain industries, particularly some of those supporting the ‘big beasts’ of the Midlands, such as Rolls Royce, Jaguar Land Rover and JCB.
With news last week that Amazon has completed on a 700,000sqft speculatively built unit on G Park, Rugeley, the take up of prime industrial and warehousing space is quickening, this following a flurry of activity that has seen but a handful of speculative new build distribution warehouses remaining in the Greater Midlands.
As expected, the market is duly benefitting by way of a slow resurgence of Design & Build enquiries and deals as a result.
By means of example, new ‘build to suit’ opportunities for M&S (approx 900,000sqft), B&Q (approx 800,000sqft), Peugeot (approx 200,000sqft), MOOG (approx 200,000sqft), Europa Logistics (approx 150,000sqft), Selco (approx 40,000sqft) and Eurofins (approx 20,000sqft) have been announced, with other deals expected to be concluded in due course on sites that have effectively been mothballed over recent years.
The timing of speculative build property is an interesting topic, but with a further reduction in prime supply and a hoped upturn in occupier sentiment going forward, many of the redundant sites in the Midlands could well see activity in the near future and prove to be the catalyst for a wider upturn in the property market and regional economy.
We are advising a number of companies negotiating pre-lets at the moment and on the opposite end of deals for developers too. The market for us has plenty of exciting challenges with the driver being more deals generally.
For advice and assistance on all aspects of Commercial Property, Neil would be happy to help. He can be reached on 0121 455 9455 or via email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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