Warrington & Co. has published its eighteenth annual property report.
The report, which relates to market activity in 2015, provides a barometer of activity in the local commercial and residential property market.
The findings from this year’s report reflect a confidence in the region from the construction, development and investment sectors.
Warrington has been nationally recognised by various independent studies as a key location within the U.K. in which to establish new business, invest and locate and has been ranked in the top 10 locations within the U.K. for business start-ups, further cementing Warrington’s continued importance as a regional hub for business and investment.
Consistently recognised for its reputation as a driver for economic prosperity, Warrington was identified as a successful location for its level of employment and of private sector job creation, with the current investment and development activity surrounding Omega alone expected to create around 4,500 thousand new jobs.
The investment market produced the third largest number of investment deals on record, the majority of which either related to industrial or office transactions, the largest of which was the sale of the 37,160 sq. m. Winwick Quay Business Park to LaSalle Investment Managers, reflecting an initial yield of 7.58%. The largest value office investment deal was the sale of Talk Talk’s Stanford House at a net initial yield of 7.36% to South African property investment fund Textron.
The mighty Omega development continued to flourish with a 30,000 sq. m. speculative development commissioned by LondonMetric on Omega South and a further 1.2ha purchased by Hermes Parcelnet.
The retail sector also had a positive 2015 in terms of investment with town centre premises let to JD Wetherspoon and Cash Converters, both sold privately at an initial yield of 6.6%.
Industrial property transactional deals – which account for 118,000 sq. m. of 2015’s total of investment deals – reached an all-time high in 2015 with 84 deals above 200 sq. metres, reflecting a level of almost 70% above the norm.
Other notable deals include the commissioning by Patrizia of three new speculative units, totalling 3,623 sq. metres at Cavendish Place, Birchwood Park and the confirmation by Amazon of an 11,400 sq. metre extension at Kingsland Grange in Woolston.
In 2015 Warrington’s office market saw significant growth in start-up businesses, marking a trend for the requirement of smaller office premises. This is reflected in the average transaction size of 550 sq. m.
Meanwhile, the development of the town’s Stadium Quarter progressed with the speculative construction of Warrington’s 4,645 sq. m. business incubator – The Base. Completed at the end of 2015, the facility focuses on supporting the engineering and manufacturing sectors, helping to strengthen and secure Warrington’s future as an entrepreneurial hotspot and key location for start-up businesses.
Other activity within the Stadium Quarter included the start on site of the £10million, University Technical College Warrington that is expected to complete in 2016.
Whilst the demand for larger office space from occupiers decreased from 2014, deal numbers were still encouragingly high with Birchwood continuing to be the focus of activity with eight of 2015’s largest office deals, including 2,356 sq. m for Amec Foster Wheeler at PIN Properties’ Washington House.
JLL’s “The Geography for Office Demand – Where Next in the UK” 2015 report identified Warrington as one of the ten future potential growth centre for office space, predicting that the area will see high employment growth over the next five years, in part due to the strength of the nuclear cluster within the area.
In terms of retail, most of the activity in this sector focused on investment rather than being occupier-led, with future investment focusing on the out-of-town retail developments including the extension and redevelopment works that are being undertaken at Alban Retail Park. Planning permission was also granted for a 4,538 sq. m. retail park at Birchwood Shopping Centre.
Town centre retail will also benefit from the provision of a new, £10 million market hall that is expected to be completed in 2019 and will be an integral part of the Time Square regeneration scheme.
The first phase of the £107 million Time Square scheme started on site in 2015 with the construction of the new, temporary market building that will house the existing market whilst the new, permanent market hall is being built.
2015 also saw the town and surrounding area commit to developing its reputation as a tourism destination with the announcement of Cineworld as the anchor tenant to the Time Square regeneration scheme.
The Time square scheme aims to regenerate and revitalise Warrington town centre, creating a family-friendly shopping, restaurant and leisure complex, that when completed in 2019 will deliver a 2,500 seat cinema complex as well as a new market hall, a 1,160 space multi-storey car park (planning permission for which was granted in 2015) and a number of family friendly bars and restaurants.
Other major leisure activity saw Warrington & Co. oversee the completion of a new £4.5 million community hub at Victoria Park, providing the sporting and leisure community with state-of-the-art sporting facilities.
In terms of housing, the Local Plan Core Strategy is targeting the annual completion of 500 new homes through to 2027 and the latest figures on housing completions show that Warrington outperformed the U.K. average with a seven percent uplift from the previous year.
2015 also saw Omega submit a planning application for 1,100 homes that will be located adjacent to the Omega South logistics park.
Statistics show that 704 new homes were completed in Warrington in 2015, with the majority being three or four bed houses and one in seven being affordable homes.
The average price of a semi-detached home in Warrington in 2015 was £177,000 whilst detached homes sales averaged £325,400.
The Warrington Annual Property Review is commissioned by Warrington & Co., Warrington’s partnership for driving growth.
Generous sponsors of the 2015 report are AECOM, Muse Developments, Orbit Developments, EWA, Wire Regeneration and Turner & Townsend. The information was compiled by the BE Group.