Swindon risks running out of decent office space – report
Swindon risks running out of decent office space, as older developments are converted to residential use, while new building ground to a halt during the economic downturn.
And the lack of suitable office buildings could turn to a slowdown in economic activity for the town if companies are unable to expand or relocate.
That’s the stark warning from commercial property expert Andrew Kilpatrick, of Kilpatrick & Co, in the latest Commercial Market Survey for the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors.
Mr Kilpatrick, who contributes to the quarterly reports, said: “With the increased demand and falling supply, there are already distinct shortages of certain types of property in Swindon in certain size ranges. This is partly because of the lack of new building starts since the onset of the recession.
“In Swindon there is very little Grade A office space available and no new development underway. Swindon’s office supply is also being reduced by the conversion of office buildings to residential, which is a welcome initiative when it happens to old, functionally redundant, long empty town centre office buildings, but not so welcome when out of town office buildings, such as those at Westlea Campus and Delta Business Park are considered suitable for residential conversion.
“The lack of suitable office buildings in Swindon could lead to a loss of economic activity from Swindon, if existing businesses are unable to find suitable relocation opportunities and so are forced to move out of town.”
In retail and leisure, said Mr Kilpatrick, the picture is rosier: “Confidence in Swindon’s commercial property market has been boosted by the early sale of the new Regent Circus leisure investment in advance of completion at above the asking price, showing good investor demand for quality property.
“Other recent investment deals in Wiltshire include Borough Parade Shopping Centre (87,000 sq ft) in Chippenham, Chippenham Retail Park (43,351 sq ft) and Three Horseshoes Walk Shopping Centre in Warminster (60,000 sq ft).”
Nationally, the picture is one of an increasing gap between supply and demand which, says RICS, could lead to rents increasing at the fastest pace since 1998.