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17 November, 2020 - 21:00 By Tony Quested

Lotus expansion in overdrive but lack of options put brake on industrial growth

Despite the pandemic disruption, Norfolk industrial take up in 2020 will exceed the long run trend for the first time in five years, according to Bidwells.

The agent says that requirements remain robust, but occupiers are facing a challenging market; no Grade A stock has come to the market for nearly eight years. This is expected to drive rental growth over the coming years. 

The growing technology sector, illustrated by consolidation of operations at a new Lotus facility next year, combined with plans to capitalise on high growth industries such as sustainable energy, agritech and health, underlines the urgent need for development, Bidwells says.

Carmaker Lotus is to open a hi tech manufacturing facility at Hurricane Way in Norwich. Lotus took the 142,400 sq ft former Heatrae Sadia facility close to Norwich International Airport. The company plans to consolidate its steel fabrication and lightweight structures businesses together at the new facility, once the building has been modified. 

The current businesses are located at two sites, one in Norwich and the other in Worcester. The new facility is expected to be operational in 2021 and will bring 75 new jobs to the area.

Brexit, assuming it goes ahead, will impact Suffolk and Essex with both counties planning to increase capacity at the respective Felixstowe and Harwich ports.

With the potential for delays to trade at Calais following the UK’s exit from the EU, the Government has announced its intention to increase capacity at eastern coastal ports. 

The move will see both Felixstowe and Harwich benefit from increased imports from the Netherlands and Belgium as the UK looks to reduce the reliance on trade through Dover. 

Dover currently handles 10,000 trucks per day via its ‘roll on roll off’ facility and some of this trade is expected to be diverted to eastern ports in order to protect against interruption.

Mid Suffolk District Council is planning a new 2.3m sq ft logistics and innovation park, named Gateway 14, on the site it recently compiled at Stowmarket next to the A14. 

Jaynic, which signed a 15-year development agreement with the council earlier this year, is planning for the first buildings to be launched at the end of 2021.

Back in Norfolk, Stenprop, the UK multi let industrial property specialist, bought the 245,730 sq ft Bowthorpe Park Industrial Estate from Blackrock Industrial Trust for £19.6 million, reflecting a net initial yield of 6.35 per cent.

The estate consists of 76 units and is 94 per cent let to a range of manufacturing, distribution and hi tech, knowledge intensive companies. Stenprop’s strategy is to reposition its portfolio towards MLI property and the latest purchase takes the proportion of MLI assets to 60 per cent of its portfolio.

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