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Finalists for the prestigious South Coast Property Awards have been named – after the judging panel scrutinised entries from across the region. The shortlisted companies will attend the gala evening on July 19 at the Hilton at Ageas Bowl, Southampton.
The Vibrant Economy Index from Grant Thornton reveals that the South East stands out as the most vibrant region in England, with Winchester placed 11th, Basingstoke and Deane, Eastleigh and Southampton in the top 20% in certain categories.
Leading palletised distribution specialist Freightroute is expanding its Hampshire operation with a move into new premises in Eastleigh.
A lack of office space in Southampton is forcing businesses out of the city and creating opportunities for outlying towns, says property consultancy JLL. Chandler’s Ford and Eastleigh in particular are thriving as business locations as they are attracting organisations that want the benefits of a business park environment, rather than a city-centre location.
One of the main attractions for businesses is the generous car parking that is available in out-of-town locations – the car parking ratio at Chandler’s Ford is one per 180 sq ft compared with one per 1,000 sq ft in the city centre.
Gateway House, a 55,000 sq ft office building at Tollgate Business Park in Chandler’s Ford, is now fully let for the first time, with Konica Minolta, KPMG, One Insurance and most recently law firm Moore Blatch, completing the tenant lineup. JLL and CBRE marketed the building.
Nella Pang, associate director at JLL’s office in Southampton, said: “We are seeing a lot of investment into this area from developers that see the potential of places outside the main cities on the South Coast. We expect this trend to continue as the lack of office space in the main urban hubs remains a big issue for businesses looking to expand or relocate.”
Emma Lockey, associate director at CBRE’s Southampton office, said: “Chandler’s Ford is particularly attractive to investors as it is in a strategic location close to the M3 and M27 motorways, Southampton airport and Parkway Railway station, and offers a range of office type and size that is unavailable in the main cities.”
The biggest and most active investor in Chandler’s Ford’s commercial property sector is Troika Developments – a Dorset-based developer of industrial, retail, offices and leisure properties across the UK. Over the past five years, Troika has bought around 265,000 sq ft of office space across four buildings in the Chandler’s Ford area, with JLL and CBRE advising on all four deals.
Pang continued: “Last year, around 363,000 sq ft of office space on the South Coast underwent a lease renewal or new letting. Troika’s office buildings account for 73 per cent of this figure.”
Troika recognised that Chandler’s Ford and Eastleigh are excellent business locations so the company embarked on an ambitious acquisition programme that has focused on buying and developing properties to a high quality to meet the needs of modern occupiers. For example, the company carried out an extensive refurbishment at Gateway House in 2015, improving its EPC rating from E to a B Rating.
“This has resulted in major companies staying in the Chandler’s Ford area including Chloride Group, Cisco and Ageas Insurance with all space in Troika’s buildings now fully let,” said Pang.
JLL says that it is becoming increasingly important for office buildings to offer reception areas with a ‘wow factor’ and a high parking ratio, and that Troika has understood that in its developments.
“We are acting on behalf of a number of occupiers who are looking for space along the South Coast, and exceptional reception spaces with good car parking feature highly on their agenda,” said Pang.
Emma Lockey added: “Features which support staff retention are also high on the list. These include communal breakout areas, agile working space and showers and bike stores.”
Nigel Walters, managing director, Troika, said: “The South Coast is well placed to attract blue chip occupiers and we believe the out of town market presents a particular opportunity for investment. We continue to be very active in the Hampshire and Dorset property market.”
The former Arturi Garden Centre in Eastleigh has been acquired by the owners of the on-site Orangery Tea Rooms with the support of a five-figure finance package from HSBC. Now known as The Garden Society, the garden centre was snapped up by business partners Samuel Baker and Aaron Duck after its previous owners retired.
Following the general uncertainty seen in 2016, the year ended positively for the South Coast commercial property investment market, with over £330 million of transactions taking place in the industrial and office sectors in the region, according to Lambert Smith Hampton.