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The popularity of the business

parks in Oxfordshire continues

unabated in attracting high tech


At MEPC’s Milton Park there is an

initiative to bring in a green travel

plan to help companies to inspire

their employees to make travel

changes by bringing in consultants to

advise businesses. The measures

include a free bike loan scheme,

upgraded car sharing, more electric

car charging points and the creation

of the Milton Park Travel Forum.

MEPC’s Philp Campbell said: “Our

green travel plan is all about helping

people who can change the way they

travel here to do so”. This, of course,

fits the image of high tech

companies in the region.

Oxfordshire business parks

generally are popular with high

tech companies.

An example of this is Rezatec, a

geospatial data analytics company,

that is relocating within Harwell

Campus and into the new Quad One

building which completes this year.

The company’s technology allows

businesses to make decisions about

their land based assets through the

analysis of complex Earth

Observation imagery and data.

William Cooper of Harwell Campus

said: “Rezatec is an important asset

to us within the space cluster at

Harwell. The success of the cluster

has brought the ‘Harwell effect’

which we are using as a model to

create new clusters in the HealthTech

and EnergyTech sectors”.

Retailing in Oxfordshire has been

given a fillip with the opening of the

Westgate in Oxford, designed by

Chapman Taylor, the largest new

shopping centre to open in the UK

this year. It is a joint venture between

Landsec and the Crown Estate.

The 74,320 sq.metres (800,000



is anchored by a John Lewis store

and has a range of blue chip retailers.

It has the city’s first public roof

garden and a range of eating places.

Phil Durrans of Chapman Taylor

said: “The Westgate Oxford

redevelopment is an exciting addition

to the city centre, offering a unique

world class shopping destination for

the students, residents and tourists

who visit the city every year”.

Seldom can a regional market

have so much to celebrate as is

true of Reading in achieving

record rents, a record forward

funding deal and top level year

of take up.

That is the message from

Haslams after last year’s record rent

in excess of £118.36 a sq.metre

(£11 psf), with trade counters even

better than that, and take up of

60,322 sq.metres (649,325


.), was

31% above the five year average.

Even more impressive is that

Haslams reckons that take up

would have been even higher if not

for the lack of stock, particularly for

medium and smaller units.

Naturally enough the agent

anticipates that rents will continue

to increase this year because of the

endemic problem of a shortage of

stock together with strong demand,

which is being led by distribution

space for e-retailers.

There is more to come from

those that have been slow to adapt

to this demand factor. Among the

major lettings was a warehouse to

Argos at Island Road, south of

Reading which is close to Peel

Logistics’ big scheme.

This location is also attracting

new developments. Other major

projects in the pipeline are Kier

with a trade counter (a speciality of

theirs) and Aberdeen Standard at

Suttons Business Park as well as

McKay at Theale Logistics Park.

Even so, the chances are that

supply, which Haslams puts at

63,376 sq.metres (682,199



will shrink further, particularly as a

substantial part of the availability is

in one large building at Island Road.

Interestingly, the record levels of

business were not reflected in the

investment market which had seen

a record in 2016, apart from the

forward funding by Exton Estates

with Equities Property Fund of

South Africa with an interest rate

of 4.25% (which Haslams believes

is a national record).

Haslams considers that

manufacturing could play a larger

part in the market with the push for

electrification of vehicles and

driverless cars. Also playing a major

part this year is the competitive

rate for Sterling which should

encourage foreign investors into

the region. Otherwise Haslams sees

2018 as a period of rising rents,

consolidating yields and slow

progress on new developments,

hindered by a shortage of land.

It is a landlords’ market with

declining incentives and pressure

on potential occupiers to take

longer term leases with 10 years

becoming more common.

Commercial Property Register

February - June 2018





Island Road

Milton Park

Another positive voice for a

firm market comes from

Savills that predicts companies

will have to make decisions

about their real estate needs

in 2018, having held back


Looking ahead, Savills believes

that the life sciences sector will

see significant take up as demand

remains strong and the sector

faces renewed focus as part of

the UK government’s new

industrial strategy. Indeed, the

largest requirements in the

market are from this sector, such

as Sanofi, Merck, UCB and Novartis.

Savills’ Jon Gardiner said: “We

are confident that larger corporate

occupiers will resume making

decisions in 2018 and commit to

new space”.


set the




Philip Campbell