BUSINESS growth in Yorkshire is in danger of stalling unless more purpose-built industrial units are created to meet demand, says our Commercial Property Partner MATHEW HAYNES. As you can read here, the situation presents a great opportunity for landowners, investors and developers. 

Yorkshire ‘crying out’ for industrial units to spur business growth – Milners lawyer

A PROPERTY lawyer has voiced concerns that the pace of business growth in Yorkshire is in danger of slowing – unless more purpose-built industrial units are constructed to meet demand, particularly in out-of-town areas.

Mathew Haynes, a Commercial Property Partner at Milners Solicitors in Leeds and Harrogate, warned the county was “crying out” for a fresh injection of modern new business units.

They were needed to give a growing army of budding entrepreneurs space and headroom to flourish.

He said the current health of the market offered an unprecedented window of opportunity for landowners, investors and developers to tap into a winning product.

This was especially the case in favoured rural locations, which are being targeted by start-ups and expanding SMEs in ever-increasing numbers.

“There are only a few good quality industrial sites to meet this demand and the lack of stock is a real frustration to local businesses, who are either wanting to secure their first affordable industrial space or to move into bigger premises to accommodate their growing business needs,” he said.

“Very few businesses have the opportunity to build their own workspaces for numerous reasons and many prefer the flexibility of letting.

“Start-ups, in particular, are handcuffed financially from making such a big investment while they are in their infancy.”

Mathew said there was the opportunity at one or two industrial sites in the county to enter into a “design and build” agreement with the landowner, which ultimately results in the ownership of the land and industrial unit.

But generally speaking, this route was only available to a business with large cash reserves to invest.

The banks were willing to look at funding these schemes in conjunction with the business owner, but only if they are in the right location and backed by a robust business plan.

Where the “design and build” model was not suitable, he cited a new development of nine hi-spec industrial and office units at Mill Hurst Business Park at Darley, on the rural northern fringes of Harrogate, as a barometer of the market’s strength and direction.

The vast majority of the units were pre-let off-plan by Harrogate commercial property agents FSS.  They are now occupied by a range of new start-ups and growing businesses, securing employment for around 40 people – with extra jobs in the pipeline.

The business park has acted as a magnet to a diverse range of new and relocating companies, including Pure Skin Lab; Harrogate Steel; Plastic Engineering; Pebble Stone Masonry and 7s Above.

Mathew said: “There is a distinct lack of modern, purpose-built industrial units across Yorkshire. Unless supply accelerates to match demand, particularly in the most sought-after locations, there is a risk it will hinder business and stunt home-grown Yorkshire entrepreneurial talent.

“Mill Hurst Business Park is a stand-out example of what can be achieved and the potential return on investment that exists – and Yorkshire is crying out for more success stories just like this.

“While this is a development of industrial units, a lot of the jobs created are not traditional industrial jobs – which is another marked trend we are witnessing.

“It is surprising how scarce similar units are in the county. This is old-fashioned supply and demand and it’s locally driven.”

His comments were echoed by the developer behind the Mill Hurst Business Park scheme, Andy Houseman, who said: “Our experience underlines the clear appetite among businesses to put down their roots in these kinds of units and grow. And what’s really rewarding is that you are building for local businesses and people.

There was a high demand from soon after we obtained planning approval. Negotiations with potential and existing tenants both directly from us, and through Dan Brumfitt and Adam Crawfurd-Porter at FSS, were well advanced by the time construction began and agreements for lease were in place well before it finished.

There has arguably been an over-focus on residential development, as housebuilders return to a competitive marketplace in numbers.

But we need ‘employment land’ or ‘jobs land’ to support local communities as well, so people can actually afford to live in these homes that are being built for them.

We are proud that in its very short history, Mill Hurst Business Park has already played a key role in generating jobs and wealth in the district, and hope it encourages other landowners who are looking to maximize their asset to follow in our footsteps.”