The South West Plymouth Market round-up

Ifan Rhys-Jones of Listers in Plymouth gives us an upbeat summary of the last year with a positive outlook for 2019, in a year which saw Listers acting on over 430,000sqft of commercial space, worth £9.36m in sales plus £1.4m pa in rental deals.

Offices have fared better this year with

take up running at about average and as usual, distorted by one or two larger low value transactions. Rents are fairly static, at just over £11/ft, as supply is squeezed by continued loss of buildings to alternative uses. Headline rents for Grade A stock are inevitably a little higher but still not high enough to generate new construction, let alone speculative development.

The professional and technical services sector remains flat despite positive statements about business performance, with firms increasingly looking at hot decking, home working, better use of devices and more efficient space use. This is an initiative led by the public sector as part of a drive to reduce carbon footprint, improve equality and implement flexible working practices but the private sector has only recently started to drive this change, reflected in the revival of managed workspaces. Growth sectors remain technology and interestingly education as well as smaller call centres.

The industrial market remains very buoyant, with significant rental growth seen across every size range, taking headline rents to over £8/ft. Demand for distribution space has led the charge as almost every pound no longer spent in the high street finds its way to the internet and fulfilment of those orders requires warehousing and distribution. At these values even without The European Regional Development Fund long over the horizon, perhaps some more units will be developed, as long as site’s can be found within the context

Plymouth on the up

Plymouth, Britain’s Ocean City, boasts a spectacular waterfront and is in an unbeatable location, sandwiched between coast and countryside. The city is home to exciting development opportunities, making it a great place to live, work and do business. Current projects are driving growth with a number of exciting developments on the horizon.

Plymouth has been the driving force in the upcoming Mayflower 400 commemorations in 2020, which mark the 400th anniversary of the Pilgrims sailing to North America. Plymouth was the final departure point for the Mayflower ship and plays a key role in the commemorative year, which will see the opening of The Box, a multi-million pound development, transforming the city’s existing museum buildings into a unique cultural attraction that will highlight Plymouth and its place in the world.


British Land’s current £53 million development to create a new leisure destination within Plymouth city centre will also see the only IMAX cinema south of Bristol as the centrepiece of a 12-screen cinema complex with 15 restaurant and leisure units, due to open at the end of 2019.

Plymouth City Council has also taken the lead and invested to create new space for businesses. The business park at Langage Court has recently been completed, with industrial units for up to six businesses and work is ongoing at Oceansgate, a project to transform disused MOD land into the first marine enterprise zone in the country, complete with office and industrial phases.

The final phase of the project will create deep-water access and jetties for business use.

Phase 1 of Oceansgate, completed in 2018, has welcomed a number of businesses including the Maritime and Coastguard Agency, Surejust and the new Marine Business Technology Centre (MBTC). A partnership between four organisations, the MBTC offers specialist innovation and technical support to marine organisations and manages an in- sea test range where companies can apply new technologies.

More projects are in the pipeline for Plymouth too, with a long-term plan to renovate the train station, which has been granted approval for a £26 million funding package and planned public realm works to improve the connection between the city centre and the waterfront.

Find out more about the exciting opportunities at Plymouth Council.


of two rivers, the sea and the moors providing physical constraints. The growth in rents has after all occurred as much through a lack of supply as steady demand and less manufacturing decline occur.

Indeed the week pound and British high quality/productivity has seen some re-homing and growth, particularly in precision engineering. Recycling is increasingly generating demand and the leisure sector has cooled despite a more favourable Planning climate as the market for gyms, trampolines centres, climbing etc has reached maturity.

Demand for freehold small unit hybrid office/industrial space shows no sign of abating, while money is cheap (though some clients report that dealing with the banks is still difficult) residential buy-to-let is taxed and legislated out of existence and returns on other forms of investment remain weak. SIPP investors dominate that market and developers have been able to take a look at more profitable schemes of larger units since the SBRR (small business rates relief) threshold moved to £15,000 RV (Rateable value). In Plymouth this means that units of up to 2,000sqft may be brought into this relief.

Investment transactions are where the most interesting shift has occurred as local councils have spent nearly £4bn on acquisitions. This is not so much to intervene in pursuit of regeneration of the struggling high street but dry investments at low yields to subsidise the Council Tax payer.

The Public Works Loan Board has accounted for much of the funding and it is arguable whether this is a good policy, as councils compete with each other for the best assets, rather than focussing in their own boroughs. Inevitably we have seen some poorer quality high yielding stock having to look hard for a buyer as the yield gap widens against prime product.

Looking to 2019, despite the unmentionable event in March, we are seeing transactions completing and new offers emerging as everyone just wants to get on with it, in a January that has seen many property professionals heading to the Alps to enjoy some of the best snow in years. We too can certainly take a couple of weeks out, after a remarkable 2018 and a very positive start to the year.

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