Demand for Industrial Space in Oxfordshire reaches record levels

Bicester Link 9

Oxford has shown robust growth with 27 per cent take-up compared to 2019, bringing the area 43 per cent ahead of the ten-year trend. As a result of this demand, rents have reached a new high of £15.00 per square feet, according to property consultancy Bidwells.

The acceleration of online retailing due to the pandemic has resulted in the distribution demand, taking up most of this activity. The Oxfordshire market has also had a strong take-up from the science and tech sectors during the later months of 2020.

Supply has increased to meet these record levels, with an 8.9 per cent industrial availability rate available. Availability of space moved up to 774,600 sq ft, primarily due to the completion of 311,298 sq ft across two units at Didcot Quarter, aiding with meeting demand.

As industrial take up booms, the Oxfordshire industrial market has recorded its second-highest six months take up figure in H2 2020 despite the challenges of lockdown and the transition period out of the EU.

Activity in H1 was particularly quiet with only 107,500sq ft registered; however, H2 had a significant increase of 437,200sqft as the demand grew and continues to do so.

Construction commenced on the UK’s new National Space Propulsion Test Facility, based at Westcott Venture Park. The centre will enable UK companies and academics to test ‘state of the art’ space propulsion engines – the first within the UK. This facility will aid the UK’s growth of the space industry and evolve Oxfordshire’s’ cluster.

The Native Antigen Company has agreed to lease a new build 50,000sq ft R&D and manufacturing building at the Oxford Technology Park; both buildings are set to be completed in summer 2021.

The UK based electric commercial vehicle manufacturer Arrival Automotive have taken the final unit at Link 9 Bicester, bringing their total occupation at the site to 288,000sq ft as they already occupy two units in Link 9.

To meet demands, in February 2021, planning applications for a new 32,000sq ft space in Harwell Campus were accepted, reaching practical completion early in the new year.

The most significant industrial letting in H2 2020 was at 170 Brook Drive, Milton Park, for 101,086sq ft.

Sue Foxley, Research Director at Bidwells, said: “Lack of larger transactions holds back activity in Oxfordshire industrial market. The industrial investment market in Oxfordshire remained quiet in 2020, with total activity of £23.6m significantly below the previous year’s total transactions of £112.4m. Prime industrial yields in Oxford have continued to harden over the past five years, ending 2020 at 4.25%, reflecting the market’s increasing concentration of science and tech occupiers.”