In reflecting on the local commercial property market over the last year Woolley & Wallis report the position as having been generally positive, in a year of uncertainty leading up to the Referendum and for many an unexpected Brexit result. “Reassuringly the signs since have also been encouraging”, reports commercial agent Rob Horton who advises that the enquiry level has been largely unaffected following the events of June 23rd. The availability of stock in the industrial and warehousing sectors and in particular of smaller units (of up to 5,000 sq ft) is minimal, and particularly in relation to freeholds for which there is most demand. No-one has been building in the Salisbury area since the recession, principally because developers have been waiting for values to reach pre-recession levels again and ideally surpass them to cover higher build costs. “However, prices are probably at this level now or at least they are for the smaller units which can sustain a higher price per square foot”….comments Rob. But it is not just the smaller occupiers that have been left frustrated. Businesses looking to expand into Units of 10,000 – 20,000 sq ft or more who wish to remain in the Salisbury catchment area will also struggle to find buildings that meet their needs.
The office sector which, in the Salisbury area, mainly features lettings, has also continued to improve where the majority of the transactions relate to suites of up to 1,000 sq ft. Demand for flexible, serviced/ semi-serviced space with inclusive rents is proving increasingly popular, probably as small business have continued to thrive since the recession and in many cases it is the next step after home working. It also affords businesses the opportunity to expand without being saddled with long term lease commitments. Insofar as large office buildings are concerned, the decision of Aviva to close the former Friends Life offices on Castle Street and also Capita, their SIP services centre, not only resulted in a significant loss of jobs but also a substantial increase in the amount of business space in the City Centre. However given that it is unlikely that there will be another employer of Aviva’s stature to take on the buildings it is more than likely that both will be sold for conversion to residential.
The retail market remains a mixed bag but the agent attributes this to the wider structural changes that are taking place in retailing and the continued growth of internet sales which is likely to see the face of retailing and our high streets adjust and change significantly in the years to come. In Salisbury it is fair to say that food and drink outlets have featured significantly where new lettings have taken place.