Politicians And Landowners Can Boost Worcestershire Distribution Jobs, Says County's Property Expert

January 2012

Politicians and landowners will have to work together to bring new jobs to Worcestershire, or risk the county missing out on the boom in internet shopping and the consequent rise in demand for large distribution centres, according to John Dillon, managing director of specialist Worcestershire property consultancy JP Dillon Commercial Property Consultants.

“The distribution sector could be the mainstay of the Worcestershire commercial property market in 2012 and beyond, but only if sites with planning permission for development are brought forward in a timely manner,” says Mr Dillon.

“Distribution firms already recognise the locational and demographic benefits of the M5 and A38 corridors, but there are very few ready to go sites which can accommodate the growing number of 100,000 sq ft plus requirements from major corporate distribution companies,” continues Mr Dillon

“Thanks mainly to growing congestion issues on the M6 and M1, they are keen to take advantage of the county’s excellent communication links via the M5 and M42 motorways, its proximity to the South West markets, and the local flexible workforce, but without concerted action we could easily miss out, and see these firms opt to put their distribution centres further south towards Bristol or further north towards Stafford.”

According to Mr Dillon, the numbers of jobs available nationally in distribution continues to grow, as does their status.

He says: “Internet shopping is increasing almost exponentially year on year as a proportion of total retail sales, with shopping on smart phones, which already account for more than 12% of online retailing, giving it a further boost. As a result retailers are investing rapidly in national, regional and local distribution centres to meet these changing shopping patterns.”

“Such retailers offer good jobs too,” continues Mr Dillon. “Take for example internet grocer Ocado.”

In August 2011, Ocado acquired a 2.3 acre site in North Oxfordshire on which to build a new regional distribution centre, comprising 43,000 (should this be 430,000 sq ft) sq ft of warehouse and office space, which will create around 170 jobs.

This is on top of its second national distribution centre, which it is presently building on a 14 hectare site near Tamworth. Operational by the end of 2012, this will create up to a further 2,000 new jobs.

Mr Dillon says: “In order for Worcestershire to get its fair share of distribution centres and associated jobs, politicians need to be more flexible on designating land for employment uses, along the M5 and A38, even if it is currently Green Belt.

“Local authorities need to carry out a thorough Green Belt Review, so that as much land as possible between Bromsgrove and Tewkesbury alongside the M5 is made available. Sometimes we’re talking about scrubby bits of land that lie between A roads and the motorway, but are technically Green Belt. After all, the Green Belt was set in 1947, and we need to think about what the county needs now and for its future, not what it needed more than 60 years ago.

“For landowners and developers who can quickly bring the right sites to market to meet the demand there is a great opportunity, as the general shortage of developments will see rents and freehold values of any which do come become available climb steadily in 2012 and beyond.”

JP Dillon Commercial Property Consultants is a specialist property consultancy which focuses on the sale, letting and acquisition of all types of commercial and industrial premises throughout Worcestershire and the M5 and A38 corridors. The company can be contacted on tel. 01527 872525 or tel. 01905 670900 or by email. or via its website

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