In the second of an occasional series, written by anonymous figures within the property world, our guest the Secret Agent, argues that Slough Borough Council’s financial state is casting a shadow over the town’s office market.
With Slough Borough Council now forced to sell £600 million worth of assets, what is the future for the town’s office sector in the face of such monumental financial incompetence?
Would the real estate director of any corporate occupier considering a Thames Valley relocation be willing to risk, not only their own position, but also that of their company, by recommending a relocation to the cash-strapped town thus rendering office schemes in this key Thames Valley town virtually unlettable?
Buildings with space available include Future Works, the 360,000 sq ft joint venture between U&I and Ashby Capital which has already been available for more than four years following completion; 217 Bath Road the 82,275 sq ft refurbished former Orange head office and 50 Windsor Road the 25,000 sq ft refurbished office scheme undertaken by M&G.
Indeed, the council also faces further embarrassment given it may be forced to sell its own 84,000 sq ft head office building which it purchased in 2018 for £41.3m, a then record price for offices in Slough.
Slough has for many years faced the lingering stigma of both Sir John Betjeman’s ‘falling bombs’ legacy and, more recently, the Ricky Gervais comedy The Office which was famously filmed in an office based on the trading estate in the town.
It hardly needed yet another reason for potential occupiers to tell their acquiring agents to keep driving when touring prospective buildings to which they might want to relocate.
Having failed to make significant progress in leasing the former SEGRO developed Bath Road office portfolio AEW have recently sold the portfolio back to SEGRO which is now considering demolition and redevelopment for data centres, adding to what it is the second largest data centre cluster in the world.
In the words of one agent: “Who would want to waste time trying to market offices in Slough? It’s a developers’ graveyard and will require a lot more than the soon-to-launch Crossrail service which will stop at the town’s station when the service opens later this year.
“Although British Land and ADIA have some impressive plans to redevelop the town’s retail offering, their plans have already been significantly revised to remove a large office element and replace it with residential. Even then, the scheme is still likely to be years away.”
Slough had once played host to one of the most significant concentrations of corporate head offices outside central London but it has now adopted the ‘lame duck’ mantle and financial incompetency at the borough council has done nothing to improve its ranking in the hierarchy of Thames Valley towns.
Opinions in this column are those of individual contributors and are not those of UK Property Forums. If you are involved in the property world and wish to contribute an anonymous article contact Alan Bunce at email@example.com
© Thames Tap (powered by ukpropertyforums.com).
Sign up to receive your free weekly Thames Tap journal here.