Small sailing town home to rare speculative office on south coast

The second speculative office development on the south coast for a decade is soon to complete. You would be forgiven for thinking this landmark building was in Brighton, Portsmouth, Southampton or a handful of the region’s other cities. But you’d be wrong. This new building is in Lymington, Hampshire.

Lymington might conjure up images of yachties sipping pink gins beside the river or of being the stepping-off point for bucket-and-spade holidays on the Isle of Wight, but it also has a thriving business community dominated by marine industries and centred on the Ampress Business Park.

Alex Gossick, a graduate surveyor at JLL, says that the town offers a “superb” quality of life, between the New Forest and the Solent, and has “excellent” connections - the M27 is only minutes away and there are direct trains to London.

It is this combination of factors that led Lymington-based Westfield Properties to build speculatively on a highly visible site on Ampress Park, which can be accessed directly from the town’s ring road. The three-storey Stirley House totals 13,150 sq ft but is designed to be flexible. Individual floors of 6,577 sq ft or wings of 2,500 sq ft and upwards are available.

Joint agents JLL and Warwick Martel are quoting £18.50/sq ft and while you’d be hard pressed to find cheaper new-build office space in the south, it is a record rent for the town.

Stirley House is located right beside the Lymington River and overlooks a nature reserve. The highest environmental standards were therefore top of the agenda, claims Westfield Properties director Roland Gibbins.

“The design ensures bright, airy offices with lots of natural light and makes sure the space is flexible and meets tenants’ requirements,” he says. “We’ve used local businesses where possible during the construction to improve further on the building’s environmental credentials.

“Full modern facilities have been included such as multiple lifts, cooling and natural air ventilation systems and high thermal insulation, as well as UV-protected double glazing and 50 parking spaces,” he adds.

BREEAM bonus

All this, coupled with onsite solar generation and bicycle, shower and staff facilities, have helped the building gain ‘Very Good’ certification under the BREEAM sustainable building rating system.

So how is the market reacting to this new arrival? Nella Pang, associate director at JLL in Southampton, says: “It is excellent to see a brand-new building of such high quality being constructed along the south coast, which suffers from an acute lack of office space. While we have seen industrial new-builds come out of the ground in recent years, it has been some time since a speculative office building has been built.

“We have already had interest from local businesses in taking office space in the Lymington area and this particular building has plenty to offer in terms of its facilities, nearby amenities and transport links.”

A surprising location for a speculative office it may be, but Lymington has caught the eye of developers. Could Stirley House signal the beginning of a drive to build much-needed new stock along the south coast?

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