Investor Confidence in 2014 Ensures Warrington Property Market Continues to Prosper
Warrington Borough Council has published its seventeenth annual property report.
The report, which relates to market activity in 2014, provides a barometer of activity in the local commercial and residential property market.
Many of this year’s findings are impressive across a number of areas, in particular the findings regarding industrial, investment and office activity.
Omega’s emergence as a prime regional employment site was reinforced last year with the two largest industrial deals in Warrington in 2014. These were The Hut Group’s acquisition of a 16.6ha site, on which it will build a 64,000 sq. m. distribution and manufacturing centre; and a deal to build a distribution centre for the French automotive parts manufacturer, Plastic Omnium, which will serve as a supply base for Jaguar Land Rover, creating jobs that will include work in technology and engineering.
Warrington’s importance as a regional hub was underlined by the number and value of investment deals transacted in the Borough during 2014.
34 recorded deals included individual deals worth a total of £300 million, and portfolio deals which accounted for an additional £100 million. Deals were up by more that 50 percent on the previous year and the total investment more than doubled.
Warrington’s largest single recorded deal was the sale of the Golden Square Shopping Centre for £141 million, to LaSalle Investment Management on behalf of the Alaska Permanent Fund Corporation.
Other notable deals include the sale of Riverside Retail Park to Pradera, a European investment and retail property management company and the sale by MEPC of its portfolio of three of its leading UK Business Parks, including Birchwood Park, for £430million to a U.S. and European consortium.
Warrington’s office market continued to perform strongly and saw another high level of activity with take up exceeding 29,555 sq. m., the third highest annual level recorded.
Warrington now also looks to be becoming something of a “nuclear hub”. Previously seen as a growing sector, nuclear related businesses now occupy 20% of all office space in Warrington east, with that number looking to possibly further increase in the coming year with the likely take up by other international nuclear sector businesses.
The Birchwood area of Warrington out-performed all other parts of the town in both the number of deals and floorspace taken up. The largest deal in Birchwood was Pin Properties’ letting of Allday House to AMA, a consortium of three nuclear consultancies, servicing a major contract at Sellafield.
Other deals included the International sportswear manufacturer New Balance moving its European HQ to Appleton House at Birchwood Boulevard, following a refurbishment of the building by Aviva.
In terms of retail, most of the activity in this sector focused on investment rather than being occupier-led, and where as the previous year saw a spate of closures, 2014 was significantly calmer.
Redefine, the owners of Birchwood Shopping Centre increased its floorspace to 40,000 sq. m. and eight new operators have been attracted to the centre of the last year, along with 4.6 million visitors.
The Fordton Retails Park was also completed, anchored by Aldi and also housing Barnardos, Costa Coffee, Greggs and a Holts Pub Restaurant.
The town and surrounding area are also developing as a tourism destination. Tourism is estimated to be worth £44million to the local economy and 6,150 people are employed directly and indirectly to support tourism.
Warrington’s Cultural Quarter is becoming an area where residents and visitors can relax in a wide range of restaurants and bars, mostly in and around Palmyra Square and the Parr Hall/Pyramid Centre.
The multi-million Bridge Street Quarter plan that has now started on site, aims to regenerate and revitalise Warrington town centre and create a family-friendly shopping, restaurant and leisure complex with WBC and Muse Developments in the advanced stages of securing a major cinema operator for the site.
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 is ahead of this target.
The local housing market continues to grow through improvements in values and strong developer activity.
Average house prices in the Borough rose by 2.9% in 2014. The average house is now £187,000, a rise of £5,270 on the previous year.
The Warrington Annual Property Review is commissioned by Warrington & Co., Warrington’s partnership for driving growth.
Generous sponsors of the 2015 report are Muse Developments, RAM Properties, ISG and Omega Warrington Ltd. The information was compiled by the BE Group.
Steve Park, managing director, Warrington & Co. said,
‘The figures contained within this year’s report in every sector are very favourable and indicate that the Warrington’s current robust economy is being reflected in no small part by the buoyancy of its property market.
A number of the deals done last year were exceptional and demonstrate the confidence that major investors have in Warrington.’