It has been a very unusual year in more than one way! The industrial market in the Somerset and Dorset area has been extremely strong and we have experienced rents and prices for modern small to medium sized units increase in value by a third over the last two years with most of this being in 2020. There is now a serious lack of quality stock and there is competition for any units being newly marketed. As usual the demand for sub prime stock is weaker with rent/price rises being more modest writes Tim Wright, FRICS, Commercial surveyor with Greenslade Taylor Hunt.

In Yeovil we are marketing the new Glenmore Business Park  – a recently completed development of 41 Business Units – individual units ranging from 1,079 sq ft – 3,730 sq ft over ground and 1st floor– strong interest from owner/ occupiers, investors and occupational tenants with some 33% of the units either let, sold, exchanged, under offer or reserved.

The M5 corridor between Bristol and Exeter has historically been a popular hunting ground for businesses in the industrial sector. The continued lack of availability has generated competition and strong rental growth. We are involved with a number of quality schemes including Bridgwater Trade Park which provides 40,000 sq ft, Wellington Business Park which totals 89,000 sq ft and Crown Industrial Estate in Taunton which offers 62,000 sq ft. We have offers and serious interest in units within all three schemes. Smaller units less than 2,500 sq ft are particularly difficult to find – illustrated by our having let all six units within a new block at Courtlands Industrial Estate in Taunton off plan.

The market for investments is also strong. We brought four investments to the market in the latter half of 2020 and received multiple offers for all four resulting in best offers being sought. These were a business park in Broadmayne, a car showroom in Dorchester, an industrial unit in New Milton and a mixed retail and residential property in Seaton.

The market for retail property has been weaker although some towns are faring better than others. Since the peak of the market rents in some towns have fallen by up to 40-50% with some High Streets having many vacant shops. Other towns have fared much better with rents generally holding up or falling by significantly smaller margins. There are early signs that demand in this sector may be increasing. We have recently agreed a letting on a prime shop in St Mary Street, Weymouth, following interest from a number of parties.

Demand for offices remains weak with Covid having accelerated the move to greater home working. Where lettings have been agreed lease terms are becoming far more tenant friendly with break clauses being requested at regular intervals. There has also been a move towards serviced offices and easy in easy out accommodation on an all-inclusive basis.