Investment in a 'Park & Rail'
Investment in a Park & Rail -style transport system in Exeter is vital for the city to reach a population of 200,000 and ensure its future success, says leading property consultancy JLL. JLL is hosting its annual South West Property Market Review in Exeter today (Thursday January 28) where it will examine how the property market is performing and look at what is in store for the year ahead for the region, with a particular focus on the Devon, Cornwall and south Somerset areas. Ahead of the event at Sandy Park, Charles Kislingbury, head of the Exeter office of JLL, said: Today, Exeter has a population of 125,000, with it spiking to nearly 150,000 during term-time; the 200,000 threshold is on the horizon and it could be a reality in as little as 30 years, but only if the city invests in the right places.
In Exeter, we are fortunate to have seven converging railways lines, connected by two city centre-based stations; what we need now is for people coming into the city to be able to benefit from this network.
A Park & Rail system, with new or upgraded rolling stock and more frequent services would allow people travelling into the city from outlying areas and beyond to access the centre more easily, freeing up our congested roads, making the city a better place to live and work, and encouraging people and businesses to relocate and invest here.
Kislingbury says that Exeter has already ticked many of the boxes needed to ensure its future prosperity, with the city having grown significantly over the last few years and investment having already been made in infrastructure in the out of town areas.
We have a vibrant city centre with a fantastic work and leisure offering, but currently, people just can t easily get there. JLL s review will also hear from Tim Western, director at JLL, who will report a stellar year for the industrial sector in the South West region. He says: We have seen impressive levels of market enquiries with still over three quarters of that down to the distribution sector, often driven by the retailers.
Supply has again reduced and as a result, rents have increased by as much as 20 per cent in some locations. In the logistics market, following Geopost s expansion with their new depot at Skypark, Tuffnells will be the latest to expand its capability having agreed terms on a building at Matford. Demand continues in this sub-sector and there are a number of unsatisfied requirements, says JLL.
Western added: Those companies looking for space will be disappointed because unfortunately there is now no land in the vicinity of junctions 29 or 30, which can accommodate distribution use. Meanwhile, for retailers it would appear bigger is better in terms of distribution depots. The recent deal by Lidl brokered by JLL which purchased Sainsbury s 40-acre site in Exeter for a 530,000 sq ft regional distribution centre is a prime example of this trend. Western says that the investment market in the South West had a crazy year in 2015.
He adds that in the face of overheating in London and and the other Big Six cities like Bristol, he predicts an increasing number of funds and property companies will look to regional centres such as Exeter, Taunton and Truro to make their assets stack up. Western will also say that the office market in Exeter and the surrounding region has had a lukewarm year , with a continued shortage of Grade A stock and therefore Grade B deals accounting for the majority of activity. Key factors include a lack of second-hand options, continued occupier caution and shyness towards pre-lets, as well as high build costs continuing to be hurdles in moving the office market forward.
But JLL predicts that the science and innovation sectors will see more activity in 2016, with key projects at Exeter Science Park, Plymouth Science Park and the Marine Industries Production Campus at South Yard in Plymouth set to progress. Sarah Partridge, senior surveyor at JLL in Exeter, will give an analysis on the retail sector at the event:
The story is now about extremes the prime shopping areas are performing well, whilst significant vacancies persist in secondary and tertiary locations. We are however seeing some changes occurring to address the imbalance with town centres being re-worked to reduce over-capacity and new uses being introduced to create 24/7 sustainable destinations. Significant leisure schemes are in the pipeline to complement the prime areas to satisfy the demands of the modern consumer. In Plymouth, the bus station is now being relocated to the western end of the city to pave the way for the 40 million pound Drake Leisure scheme as a natural extension to complement Drake Circus shopping centre, which is now fully occupied. Meanwhile, in Exeter, the bus station site was granted outline consent last week for a 75 million retail and leisure scheme.
Dr Ian Pearson, who was instrumental in the creation of text messaging, will also be speaking at JLL s event. Dr Pearson is a full time futurologist who tracks and predicts developments across a wide range of technology, business, society, politics and the environment. He will be exploring what the world will be like in years to come, including how new technology will influence issues such as housing, transport and security.
The South West Market Review at Sandy Park in Exeter will be held at 6pm today (Thursday) and is open to businesses across the region.