Speculative development will boom in Leeds this year, predicts Cushman & Wakefield

Keith Hardman

The Yorkshire Industrial and Office markets will see a boom in speculative development this year to meet increasing occupier demand, according to Cushman & Wakefield.

The firm anticipates that 2019 will see the return of much needed speculative development in the logistics and industrial market within both the Big-Box and Mid-Box markets, with the sector continuing to be the ‘shining star’ of asset classes in the region.

The findings were presented at Cushman & Wakefield’s annual Property Outlook event for the Commercial Property Market for 2019 and beyond held at the Everyman Cinema in Leeds.

Jacques Esterhuizen, Associate at Cushman & Wakefield said: “The Industrial & Logistics market witnessed a strong year in 2018 driven by the online retail sector and this looks set to continue this year, most recently demonstrated by the 731,000 sq ft pre-let at iPort in Doncaster to an on-line retailer. In addition, there is currently 930,000 sq ft of speculative ‘Big Box’ development recently completed or under construction in the region.”

In the Offices market, Adam Cockroft identified Leeds as a leading occupier ‘hot spot’ which has resulted in Grade A availability reaching its lowest point since 2016.

He said: “Speculative construction is likely to increase to keep up with demand. Mirroring the national outlook, we are also seeing occupiers seeking more flexibility and experiential spaces with many deferred to the serviced office sector which is rapidly growing. We are also seeing the renaissance of some out of town locations such as Thorpe Park and White Rose Office Park which are able to offer quality buildings, class leading amenity and excellent transport links.”

In the Investment market, Yorkshire & Humberside witnessed a bumper year with transaction volumes up 35% on the previous year to £1.9bn, driven by ‘exceptional’ years in the office and industrial sectors.

Richard Brooke, Partner, Capital Markets at Cushman & Wakefield said: “Q1 2019 transaction volumes have reduced by about 15% when compared to the same period last year. The slowing of activity is most notable in the larger lot sizes as some institutional investors are slowing their acquisition strategies amidst uncertainty. Market activity is currently focused on the smaller deals being driven by private investors, property companies and some of the regional local authorities. We anticipate Q2 will follow a similar trend to Q1 but deals to pick up in the second half of the year, particularly Q4.”