Land is available for industrial development in the North West, unlike in many other areas of the UK. But space in Greater Manchester is scarce, and prime sites are even harder to come by.
As Kevin Mofid, industrial research director at Savills, points out, a total of 1,400 acres of land that could accommodate new industrial units of more than 100,000 sq ft is currently being promoted for development in the North West. However, only 40% (570 acres) of the total is on what are classified as prime logistics sites and just 22% (306 acres) is located in Greater Manchester.
“With occupier demand for big sheds in the region remaining strong, this [undersupply] could start to become a major issue,” says Mofid.
“When considering sites that could accommodate new industrial units of over 300,000 sq ft, land supply is even more constrained. In fact, there are only seven suitable sites in the North West, of which just five are in Greater Manchester.”
As a result, Logistics North in Bolton has been the beneficiary of a number of large industrial deals, primarily due to its ‘oven-ready’ status, says Jonathan Atherton, industrial director at Savills Manchester.
But having attracted occupiers including Aldi, MBDA and Joy Global, the site is now almost full and “the region needs to find its next success story”, he says.
“Manchester Airport, Port Salford and Grand Central at Trafford Park are among the few other sites with land still available for big shed development,” says Atherton.
“However, lack of suitable land in Greater Manchester has already contributed to some occupiers with industrial requirements of over 300,000 sq ft looking to Warrington and further afield.”
The continued lack of prime sites could be mitigated by the Greater Manchester Spatial Framework, the first draft of which identified sites suitable for industrial development.
“One solution to the potential shortage of land could be streamlining the planning process to take these sites from identification to consent more quickly,” says Atherton.
“Ultimately, occupiers focus on options that are deliverable in a relatively short timeframe and with infrastructure in place.
“Planners and developers can work together to bring such sites forward and ensure Greater Manchester can maintain its success as a major hub for industrial occupiers by providing much-sought-after land for new development.”
If the region is to find its next success story, collaboration will be key.