There is a call for new commercial property and employment space to be built in Worthing & Adur as the industry sees a national shortage and as demand rises from occupiers.
The lack of new and available business space is thwarting economic development in the Borough considers Steve Berrett of Michael Jones Commercial:
Positively, there has been a continued rise in occupier and investment demand but the common theme – like many towns across the UK – is there is a shortage of good quality stock coming to the market. This is greatly worrying. Small to medium-sized units of good quality are particularly under severe shortage and properties coming onto the market generate interest almost instantly and in most cases do not hang around for long.
We are working closely with developers and landlords to bring new development opportunities, and new and refurbished properties to the market, but the allocation of land for development, in the long run, is the biggest problem.
With the ever-increasing pressure to build more homes and for Council’s to meet housing targets, this has come at the expense of new commercial sites.
In recent years it has become a whole lot easier for developers and landlords to gain planning permission from commercial to residential use, through the ‘permitted development prior approval’ process, however, this has led to the loss of a number of high profile commercial buildings within the town – MGM House, Lloyds Registrars, Columbia House and soon the former EDF Energy building in Broadwater where an application has been made for 78 flats!
The Glenmore Group back in 2015 commenced construction of the largest speculative industrial park on the South Coast in nearby Chichester. Building the Glenmore Business Park was certainly a brave move but by working along-side agents the developers they are fully in tune with the local market and able to deliver the right units. This fantastic scheme is built over 10 acres of land and is made up of 70 small units and 5 larger units offered For Sale or To Let. Phase 1 has all been sold and 50% of phase 2 is already under offer!
The only way in which Worthing can sustain business growth is through development.
The process of building stock would generate extra investment in the local economy and jobs, both in the physical construction and post-construction in new business occupation. Providing a new home for these businesses would obviously release their existing premises to the market and at a more competitive level than new build properties.
So the big questions now are: where will the tranche of new stock come from and who will the developers be?
Decoy Farm in East Worthing, a former landfill site, was given ‘priority status’ in 2014 for a scheme for employment space and Government funding approved in 2017 has been seen as key to unlock the 19-acre site.
There is to be a new logistics park at Shoreham airport catering for the larger format warehouse distribution. However, what is really needed is the development of another Glenmore Business Park to be built in Worthing, providing buildings for start-up businesses right through to larger local businesses expanding.
Adur & Worthing’s success over the last 30-40 years has been driven by the delivery of employment space – crucially meeting market demand. It remains a very popular location to work, however, without a radical and prompt rethink, potentially neighbours such as Chichester, Brighton and Horsham will effectively steal Worthing’s market share.
So while Worthing & Adur faces some of its hardest challenges, the future is nevertheless exciting.