James Craddock, managing director Thames Valley for SEGRO, looks at the success of the region and how it can meet the future demand for industrial space.
For many years the Thames Valley has been a location of choice for businesses both small and large, predominantly due to the area’s excellent transport links, proximity to London and access to a skilled local workforce.
The Thames Valley is now the fastest growing region in the UK outside of London and its popularity shows no sign of abating, with 2022 seeing demand for high-quality industrial space at record highs.
There are a variety of sectors driving this demand. Increasingly, we are seeing businesses in the creative industries looking for film and TV studio space, as well as pharmaceutical and life sciences companies needing high-spec lab facilities.
We also still see strong demand for data centres, a trend which has been turbo-charged by the pandemic with more people living their lives online. This increased demand has seen Slough reinforce its position as Europe’s most significant data centre cluster.
Whilst this is all positive news for the region, there is a real and present issue with a lack of available land to meet this increased demand. This means that developers need to take a creative approach to land acquisition in order to grow their footprint.
Repurposing existing facilities is one way to fulfil this demand. Modernising old and ageing warehouses not only makes them fit for a modern-day business, but also means that we can install the latest sustainable features, such as air-source heat pumps, solar panels, green walls and micro-forests, helping to reduce carbon emissions.
Repurposing space that has previously had other uses is also key. For example, at the end of 2021 SEGRO acquired a portfolio of offices in Slough, giving us much needed square footage to potentially repurpose and lease as industrial space. Landmark Place in Slough – once an obsolete office block – is being repurposed into a high-quality office building with retail and leisure provisions.
Slough has always been an important town for SEGRO. It is where our business started over 100 years ago and since then Slough Trading Estate has become a thriving business community.
Slough is going through its own period of transformation, with investment not only in industrial land, but also mixed-use developments combining office, retail and residential space. Slough Central – a project from British Land – will see the complete redevelopment of the town centre, another ringing endorsement of Slough’s potential.
Whilst Slough Trading Estate will always be a key asset in our portfolio, to meet customer demand we have had to look at expanding our footprint outside of Slough. Growth and demand are rippling out of Slough further into the Thames Valley, which has seen us move into markets such as Reading, Bracknell and Maidenhead.
The need for modern, high-spec industrial warehousing and mixed-use developments across the Thames Valley is unlikely to diminish any time soon. Whilst Slough will always be the bedrock of our business, there is no question that the Thames Valley is ripe with new and exciting investment opportunities to explore.
Images: Top: Slough Trading Estate. Below: SEGRO Park, Bracknell.
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