Firms urged to spend on of­fice space

Kentish Express Ashford & District - - Kent Business Update -

A group of com­mer­cial prop­erty ex­perts is call­ing on busi­nesses to spend their cash on spec­u­la­tive of­fice de­vel­op­ments to deal with a short­age of work spa­ces for com­pa­nies.

The Kent De­vel­op­ers Group has said it is time for the county to in­vest in new of­fice, ware­hous­ing and dis­tri­bu­tion pro­jects in light of data re­leased by the Royal In­sti­tu­tion of Char­tered Sur­vey­ors (RICS).

Its UK Com­mer­cial Mar­ket Sur­vey said the avail­abil­ity of com­mer­cial prop­erty has fallen at its fastest rate since 1999, with 34% more sur­vey­ors re­port­ing short­ages.

The re­port also out­lined sharp de­clines in the avail­abil­ity of of­fice and in­dus­trial space, down 49% and 42% re­spec­tively.

Kent De­vel­op­ers Group – a col­lec­tion of com­mer­cial and res­i­den­tial de­vel­op­ers from across the county – has said those fig­ures could get worse fol­low­ing changes to plan­ning laws mak­ing it eas­ier for com­mer­cial sites to be con­verted to res­i­den­tial prop­erty.

The RICS sur­vey found the south saw the high­est rise in the num­ber of com­mer­cial prop­er­ties be­ing sold with so-called per­mit­ted devel­op­ment rights.

The group’s fears are backed up by re­search from Lo­cate in Kent, which says the county has seen a 10% re­duc­tion in sup­ply of in­dus­trial prop­erty since July 2012, par­tic­u­larly in terms of small and large in­dus­trial units.

The num­ber of units over 100,000 sq ft which are avail­able have fallen by nearly 45%. Those rang­ing from 5,000 sq ft to 10,000 sq ft have fallen by 23% in the last two years.

In con­trast, de­mand for units of 5,000 sq ft to 10,000 sq ft has risen by 175% over the same pe­riod.

Lo­cate in Kent chief ex­ec­u­tive Paul Wookey said: “Small-sized town cen­tre of­fices are an im­por­tant part of Kent’s prop­erty mix and we con­tinue to see a grow­ing de­mand for ser­viced of­fices by over­seas busi­nesses as the first step to plan­ning their larger long-term in­vest­ment into Kent.”

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