It is easy to become consumed by the negative coverage of the wider economy through the various media streams available to us. We have seen the high profile collapse of HMV, Jessops, and Blockbuster, the downgrade of the UK’s triple-A credit rating by Moody’s for the first time since the 1970s, and the Bank of England reported in February that growth in the economy could “continue to disappoint” in the short term. Even my local pub has closed, but there are reasons to be optimistic in Telford that we must promote.
The exciting £250 million Southwater development continues to progress towards the ultimate aim of bringing “a thriving and vibrant heart” to the Town Centre with quality commercial, community, residential, and leisure development. Telford & Wrekin council are positively promoting the town’s growth potential and the opportunities available through with the vast amount of undeveloped residential and commercial land.
Our own internal statistics show that enquiry numbers during the first two months of 2013 are up 42% on the last two months of 2012, and up 32% on the same period last year. The industrial sector is the most active area and we have been particularly busy with lettings of modern well presented buildings of 4,000 sq.ft (372 sq.m) and below. For example three new lettings have been completed in the new year at the Northern Trust Cedar Court development in Halesfield totalling 8,415 sq.ft (782 sq.ft) and being jointly marketed by Bulleys and Andrew Dixon & Company. Demand for good quality units on a flexible basis remains strong in Telford however we have also seen a significant spike in enquiries for buildings in excess of 50,000 sq.ft (4,645 sq.m). It is not an unreasonable assumption to point to the i54 development at Junction 2 of the M54, that will accommodate the new Jaguar Land Rover engine plant, as the potential stimulus for this activity.
An interesting case study for the local office market will be our joint marketing with Savills of up to 85,000 sq.ft (7,897 sq.m) of accommodation at Telford Plaza, which is a landmark Town Centre building providing prestigious Grade A space. The rents are competitively priced and with refurbished floors available we have been pleasantly surprised with the interest that we have received in the short period of our instruction.
It may be that as I start to look forward to an Ashes summer and hot weekends on the cricket field that I have turned myself too far away from the wider media coverage. I appreciate that the economic recovery will be sluggish and uninspiring, however our internal statistics and knowledge of local activity goes some way to support an optimistic mindset.