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Business & Innovation Magazine

by Business & Innovation Magazine Reporter 18 Oct, 2017

Infusion GB, one of the UK’s leading tea and herbal drink packaging companies, has quadrupled its occupational footprint at Gloucester Business Park after leasing a fourth warehouse unit at the IO Centre.  

The privately owned business, which has produced teabags for leading brands and start-up companies since 1985, originally ran production from the 14,000 sq ft Unit 5 on Gloucester Business Park.  

A year ago it invested in new premises, taking 21,650 sq ft in the adjacent Units 2 and 3. It has now expanded again, leasing the 10,062 sq ft Unit 4. It now occupies nearly 46,000 sq ft at the business park.  

Property consultants Alder King represented the landlord, the TR Property Investment Trust, in all three transactions.

Infusion’s investment in new facilities will allow it to increase its teabag production capability from 400 million tea bags to 1.5 billion tea bags and expand its storage capacity of raw materials, packaging and finished goods from 200 to 1,600 pallets.  

“Having the new adjacent premises will allow us to plan for future growth over the coming decade. We will continue to offer our customers great service from our expanded production facilities,” says Peter Barry, director of Infusion GB.

“Infusion is clearly a growing success story thanks to the UK’s continuing love affair with tea, particularly speciality teas and herbal teas,” says Alder King partner Adrian Rowley.

 

“As adjacent units have become available within the IO Centre, it has moved quickly to secure the safe, secure and modern accommodation it needs to respond to client demand.”

 


by Business & Innovation Magazine Reporter 01 Sep, 2017
Construction work at the £24m Park Drive East development at Milton Park being undertaken by MEPC has reached the half way milestone, with work on track and progressing on time for the completion of one of the region’s largest speculative office and laboratory schemes in five months’ time.
 
The development comprises three buildings (141, 142 and 143 Park Drive), including a Grade A office building and two hi-tech laboratory facilities. Construction began in February 2017, marked by a ground breaking ceremony. The office building is due to complete in December 2017, with the two laboratory buildings following closely in early 2018.
 
This milestone follows last month’s announcement that MEPC has signed a pre-let agreement with existing occupier Oxford Immunotec Global PLC, a global NASDAQ-listed, high-growth diagnostics company. Oxford Immunotec is taking the entirety of 143 Park Drive to accommodate its continued growth in a new, 27,000 sq. ft. headquarters.
 
Park Drive East is being developed to meet strong demand for best-in-class, strategically located premises at the heart of the Oxfordshire science Cluster. Designed, with optimum flexibility in mind, the buildings will satisfy the requirements of innovative businesses, including science and technology companies embarking on R&D activities. Occupiers taking space within the development benefit from its position within the Science Vale UK Enterprise Zone, which allows businesses to apply for business rate discounts of up to £275,000.
 
Philip Campbell, Commercial Director for Milton Park at MEPC said: “This is an important milestone in the life-cycle of Milton Park. The Park Drive East scheme is well on track for completion at the turn of the year, bringing new stock of high-quality office and laboratory space to the market which will help drive the economic growth of this region.
 
“We are delighted that 143 Park Drive has already been let to accommodate Oxford Immunotec’s expansion and look forward to providing other occupiers of the park an opportunity to maximise their growth plans as well as welcoming new companies to the Park community.”
 
Buckingham Group is the main contractor for the development.
 
Knight Frank and VSL & Partners are the letting agents for the scheme
 
www.miltonpark.co.uk
by Business & Innovation Magazine Reporter 24 Aug, 2017
Few have a better outlook on the region’s property development and investment landscape than Simon Tothill, Property & Development Director at Robert Hitchins Ltd

Interview by Nicky Godding

If you believe that a good work environment improves the quality of the decisions you make, it’s no surprise that Robert Hitchins has been so successful.

The company’s headquarters are at Boddington Manor, a 19th century Grade II listed manor house built in the Arts & Crafts style, although its history goes back beyond the English Civil War.

Robert Hitchins is a regional strategic landowner, promoter for the residential development market and a major commercial property and development company. Its commercial arm has a portfolio of more than 1 million sq ft of income-producing properties, predominantly industrial and office space.

Simon Tothill has been the company’s Property and Development Director since 2014 and has strong views on the sector.

“Change is a difficult concept for many people but we seek to develop for the better. Development has to be in right location at the right time and of the right quality,” he says.

“Development is quite rightly challenged and tested through the planning process. We seek to extol the virtues of development and reassure that planned development will enhance and improve the status quo and provide new and further employment opportunities.

Economic growth is needed to create and retain jobs, he says. “We are in a competitive environment from other towns and cities in the UK and also, given the increasing pace of globalization, internationally.

“We recently lost one of our tenants to the USA. If we can’t attract new companies into the area while retaining and encouraging existing businesses to expand, as a region we will falter.”

Land for commercial development?

But there is a lack of development land. “As well as an ongoing housing shortage, there is also a shortage of well-located employment land close to existing centres of population, with suitable infrastructure,” says Simon.

“Quite rightly there is a focus on finding sites suitable for new housing, as the acute lack of supply is causing residential markets to become unaffordable to the local population. However, employment land is also needed for companies to invest and expand.”

The problem is compounded by many office buildings having been converted to residential or student use.

“Gloucestershire and the surrounding area has a huge number of high-tech, innovative engineering companies, from aerospace to nuclear and cyber, wanting bespoke buildings to allow growth,” added Simon

Simon develops commercial properties where they’re needed, delivers a return on current company investments and is broadening Robert Hitchins’ geographical reach across the South West, South Wales and Midlands.

Commercial rents had, until the last couple of years, risen little since 2008, but with construction costs rising and with a greater level of occupier demand chasing dwindling supplies of industrial and office stock, the market is now experiencing significant pressure on rents, he says.

A significant proportion of the Robert Hitchins development portfolio is in the office and industrial sectors: the company owns properties from Tewkesbury to Bristol and across South Wales. A particularly interesting site owned jointly with Redrow Homes PLC is the 300-acre site known as Westgate, next to the M49 and opposite Severnside on the outskirts of Bristol.

The company has been working with Redrow and others to secure a decision by Highways England to locate a new M49 motorway junction adjacent to the site which will provide a much-needed connection into the Avonmouth and Severnside Enterprise area, and unlock a major employment site.

Elsewhere, development opportunities are starting to crystallise for Robert Hitchins. In Oxfordshire, the company is building a 20,000 sq ft office building for Air Tanker, a major employer in Carterton which delivers aircraft, infrastructure, service, training and expertise in support of Voyager, the RAF’s new generation tanker transport aircraft.

A soft spot for retail

Simon has a soft spot for retail, having undertaken some big retail projects across the South West.
That expertise will come in handy as the company progresses a major development project at Tewkesbury, after Tewkesbury Borough Council backed a £60 million designer outlet centre at Junction 9 of the M5.

The proposed 180,000 sq ft outlet village should create around 1,000 jobs. The location is as good as it gets: in easy reach of Birmingham, Bristol and immediately accessible to Tewkesbury, Gloucester and Cheltenham.

“We are not trying to be a Bicester Village,” says Simon. (Bicester Village is the epitome of luxury outlet shopping and attracts millions of overseas visitors).

“Tewkesbury will offer more accessible outlet shopping, and we have been delighted with the response from retailers interested in committing to the scheme.”

Designs are being worked up for consultation, which include plans to develop an 80,000 sq ft garden centre alongside.

With a career spanning 30 years, what project is Simon most proud of? The answer is unexpected: A B&Q in Torquay.

“This project had it all. We had to assemble five land interests including part of a private road and achieve planning for an out-of-centre retail development. Having pre-let the building to B&Q and started on site, we were hit by an 11th hour High Court legal challenge in respect of alleged access rights over the road. After many sleepless nights we won. It’s not necessarily the best architectural project that I’ve been involved in but it involved many facets of development.”

And the project with the most potential? “Junction 9 on the M5,” he says. Expect a little retail therapy from Robert Hitchins over the new few years.

Simon Tothill on town centre retail

“High street retail will never fail because people are inherently sociable. We like meeting and talking to each other. Online retailing makes life easier but you can’t stroll around a website and stop for a cup of coffee with friends. Retail is a fashion business and although the provision of space within the high street may reduce there will always be a demand for it.”

Where does Gloucestershire do retail well? “Cirencester is beautiful, with a wealthy catchment, attractive environment and plenty of independent shops.”

And Cheltenham’s coup in securing a new John Lewis store shouldn’t be underestimated, he says. “Cheltenham had to provide John Lewis with enough certainty that it could deliver, before the retailer agreed to invest a huge sum in a new store. The council had to pull out all the stops and they did. With the work at The Brewery and on The Promenade, Cheltenham is on the up.”

QUICK FACTS

  • Robert Hitchins Group was established more than 50 years ago. 
  • Still a family-owned business, it has developed more than 17,000 houses and more than three million square feet of commercial property. 
  • It has extensive land interests across Gloucestershire, to the edge of Birmingham, into Oxfordshire and down to Bristol and South Wales. 
  • Originally a highly successful housebuilder, Robert Hitchins Ltd no longer builds houses itself, but has become one of the region’s predominant strategic landowners and promoters for the residential development market, and a major commercial property and development company.
by Business & Innovation Magazine Reporter 16 Aug, 2017
In the run up to SGS College opening the doors at the Berkeley GREEN Campus to learners this September, Managing Director of
Kier Construction Central, Mark Pausey, visited the site, Tuesday 15 August, donating a defibrillator to the campus and taking a tour of the new facilities, along with SGS Group Chief Executive, Kevin Hamblin.

Kier, who are the main contractors on both SGS Berkeley GREEN and the University Technical College (UTC), started work at the former Berkeley Nuclear Laboratories site in October 2015, refurbishing a former Magnox engineering hall building. Now named the John Huggett Engineering Hall, the facility will provide workshops, project spaces and offices for engineering learners.

In 2016, work commenced on the demolition of an adjacent building and the construction of a brand new £12m, 6,000m2 University Technical College (UTC), which will provide specialist education to learners aged 14-18 in digital technology, cyber security and advanced engineering.

The redeveloped site will offer some of the best training facilities in the country for the Built Environment, Welding, Engineering and Digital Technologies. The Campus, which came in response to the region’s growth in engineering and nuclear, will deliver full and part- time training to learners from the age of 14 upwards including apprenticeships, adult re-training programmes and degree level learning.

The redevelopment also brings new business opportunities to the area, offering 300,000ft2 of commercial floor space consisting of office premises, workshops, laboratories, conference rooms and more.

Leading property, residential, construction and services group Kier, locally based in Gloucester, is an ‘employer of the future’ partner to SGS Berkeley Green and has been actively engaged with students during construction works. A summer project invited students to have their say on the future of their campus by conceptualizing their new breakout area, exploring connections with the built environment and challenging them to build upon their presentation skills in a Dragons Den themed judging forum. A summer work placement programme elevated nine students understanding of the construction world through short practical challenges complimented by interactive learning sessions.

Speaking of the proactive engagement with students of Berkeley GREEN, Assistant Principal of the UTC, Andrew Keenan said: “Not only have Kier built a fantastic state of the art building for the UTC, they have also supported throughout our recruitment of students. They have agreed to maintain an ongoing relationship to help develop our future graduates who are looking to progress into Design and Civil Engineering. The support already given by Kier on open days, information sessions, work experience and UTC tours is a fantastic example of how employers and UTCs can work together to make learning relevant to young people’s future careers. We are looking forward to continuing this relationship with a company who are so obviously invested in giving young people the best start possible.”

Commenting on the development at Berkeley GREEN, Mark said: “These are fantastic modern facilities for students and the local community. The Kier team has established excellent relationships with SGS Berkeley Green which we hope will progress further with future work on the site and with our involvement as employer of the future”

Speaking about the new campus, Kevin said: “This brand new, state of the art facility, is part of a £12m investment in education in Gloucestershire, which Kier have completed one week early and under budget. The College is really looking forward to seeing its learners take advantage of these new facilities this September.”

To find out about Berkeley GREEN Campus facilities, opportunities and open events, the first of which takes place Saturday 30th September, visit: www.berkeleygreenutc.org.uk
by Business & Innovation Magazine Reporter 07 Aug, 2017
The Pegasus Group, which has offices in Cirencester, has secured Planning Permission and Listed Building Consent for The Ivy Group to convert a former Lloyds Bank branch at Montpelier Walk, Cheltenham to a Class A3 restaurant with outdoor seating area.

Originally built in the early 1800s, the Grade I listed Rotunda Building is one of the most recognisable and important buildings in Cheltenham with its dome inspired by The Pantheon in Rome. The conversion will see the restoration of the interior of the building and most significantly, the opening up of the ‘long room’ which is currently partitioned into offices.

After extensive negotiations with Historic England and Cheltenham Borough Council Conservation Officers, it was agreed that a new circular bar and servery will be located in the centre of the Rotunda and act as the focal point of the new restaurant.
by Business & Innovation Magazine Reporter 03 Aug, 2017
Hermes Investment Management (Hermes), the £30.8 billion manager, has agreed to sell a 50% equity stake in Milton Park to Canada Pension Plan Investment Board (CPPIB) for approximately £200 million.
 
Oxfordshire’s Milton Park accommodates leading global science and technology companies as well as emerging businesses, including a number of spin-off organisations from the University of Oxford. At 250 acres, Milton Park is one of Europe’s largest and most successful integrated business, science and technology parks and home to over 250 organisations employing over 9,000 people.
 
Chris Taylor, Head of Private Markets, Hermes Investment Management, said: “The deal marks another significant milestone in our growing relationship with CPPIB, which has already proved highly successful through our JV within central London and our collaboration at Wellington Place in Leeds and Paradise, Birmingham. Our interests are well aligned and, as such, we have been able to work together to deliver strong financial returns and positive impact upon society and the environment.
 
“Recycling capital in this manner allows us to adequately diversify our global portfolio and invest further in existing and new strategic holdings, where we believe additional value can be added in line with our focus on the occupational impacts arising from growing trends of urbanisation, globalisation, technology and demographic shifts.”
 
MEPC Limited (MEPC), a leading property developer and asset manager, which manages Milton Park on behalf of Hermes Investment Management, will remain as asset manager and developer under the joint ownership. MEPC is currently overseeing the development of Park Drive East, one of the largest speculative developments in Oxfordshire, accommodating the ongoing demand for quality office and laboratory space in the region.
 
Andrea Orlandi, Managing Director and Head of Real Estate Investments Europe, CPPIB, added: “This transaction provides CPPIB with a further opportunity to grow our existing relationship with Hermes, one of our key strategic partners. MEPC, our asset and development manager on Wellington Place has a strong track record in developing and transforming major real estate projects. We see significant future growth potential at Milton Park as it continues to build on its attractiveness to the life-science sector - a major pillar of the thriving Oxford economy.”
 
James Dipple, CEO of MEPC, said: “This deal offers an excellent opportunity for us to grow our relationship with CPPIB, which has already been cemented through our work at Wellington Place. This investment is testament to Milton Park’s reputation and MEPC’s excellent track record of delivering strong investor returns by meeting the needs of our customers through a clear understanding of their occupational requirements.
 
“With the added support of CPPIB, we will continue to accommodate the expansion of businesses on the park through an identified investment programme set out in our long term business plans.”
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