Alistair Mitchell from PAI member Fenn Wright provides an update on what is happening in the commercial property market in Essex and Suffolk:
As the majority of Covid restrictions are lifted and we cautiously look ahead, there is certainly a sense that businesses are keen to get back to normal or, should I say, the ‘new normal’.
The warehouse/industrial market continues to remain the strongest sector throughout the UK. Demand in this region has followed the trend and is likely to be fuelled further by Felixstowe and Harwich’s designation as Freeports. However, although we have a huge amount of suitable development land along the A14 corridor, planning delays coupled with a lack of some materials and the escalating costs of others, means delivery is slow. It’s clear that this is putting considerable upwards pressure on the value of existing stock, so should you have any warehouse space that you need to sell or let, we would be delighted to hear from you!
Despite the fact that a large number of local office occupiers have not actually been occupying their offices in recent times, we have been surprisingly busy over the first six months of the year, as reported in our article on the local office market . Although agile and remote working practices have become more prevalent, demand for office space is certainly there and we are beginning to receive a growing number of enquiries from companies looking to set up or expand existing regional hubs in both Essex and Suffolk. Only the best quality space will satisfy occupiers ever more exacting requirements but with the lack of suitable stock in some centres, rents should hold up well.
The decline in high street retail is well known and unfortunately, there will undoubtedly be a few more casualties as we ease out of the pandemic. However, an adjustment in values, coupled with more flexible planning regulations will allow new types of occupiers to move in, with buildings being repurposed for residential, recreation and leisure purposes, educational facilities, health centres and a variety of other uses. My colleague, Donald Barber, has written an article about his involvement in a redevelopment project in Bury St Edmunds, and although it’s early days, the vitality and viability of our towns and cities will improve as a consequence of these types of schemes. Somehow the market always finds a solution.