Banbury holds a very strategic location adjacent to Junction 11 of M40 Motorway with links North to Birmingham and South to London. In addition there are fast rail links to London and Birmingham in around 50 minutes journey time.
This strategic location next to the M40 has attracted the ‘Big Shed’ distribution user and Banbury is now seeing the speculative development of sizeable buildings designed specifically for storage and distribution. Right now 110,000, 170,000 and 235,000 sq ft are available as new build units.
So what about small unit schemes? Banbury has not seen any sizable ‘small unit’ scheme for the past 28 years. However, the surrounding main centres such as Southam, Leamington, Warwick, Brackley, Bicester & Buckingham have at least seen some developments of ‘small units’ in the last 8 – 10 years.
There is a need to nurture small business growth (from small acorns do grow!) and with a complete dearth of availability of existing ’small units’ this is not happening in Banbury. What is worse, companies are beginning to look elsewhere to start their businesses. Unchecked, this will continue if there is a lack of promotion by local authorities. It is a simple fact that given 3 acres of land to develop, the developer would rather develop a single 50,000 – 60,000 sq ft warehouse rather than 25 or 30 ‘small units’. It is cheaper, far less complicated and more profitable. Central Government needs to help the local authorities more and provide incentives in terms of tax concessions, business rate relief, access to superfast broadband and simplified planning to encourage business investment. The Department of Communities and Local Government announced in November 2015 that there would be 18 new Enterprise Zones and we believe the nearest Oxfordshire zone is the Didcot Growth Accelerator (Oxford Local Enterprise Partnership) some 42 miles South of Banbury.
The Banbury office of Brown & Co have been trying to encourage developers to take the plunge and build out new schemes because there is strong demand and pretty much all small unit space has been taken up in the town. There are simply no freehold opportunities and few leasehold at the moment. Fortunately, Apollo Developments have recognised this demand and whilst the pricing level has broken new ground as it has needed to, in order to make this financially viable.
As of January 2016 contractors are on site at Wroxton, just outside Banbury, with a new ‘10 Unit Scheme’ of light industrial units of 1,600 sq ft each. As predicted, demand has been strong and 40% has been sold and another 20% is about to go ‘under offer’. This is very encouraging given the buildings are not out of the ground yet. The developers are confident that these units will be ready to occupy by July 2016.
The success of the scheme will be fully reported in due course, but at the time of writing, prices are £175,000 plus VAT per Unit fitted to shell finish.