2014 has been another busy year for Lawson Commercial. Business confidence continued to grow following the beginnings of improvement in 2013. A wide variety of commercial buildings were let and sold during the course of the year. One of the more interesting properties we dealt with included a redundant pub at Punnetts Town on the outskirts of Heathfield which was in a poor state of repair. There was considerable interest in this property and it went to best offers finally selling for a figure in excess of the asking price. A dental property in Bexhill was sold and a mission hall in Tunbridge Wells which also saw strong interest reaching a price well in excess of its original guide price. We also let a recording studio at Bolney.
These are some of the diverse properties handled by us in addition to the more conventional shops, offices, factories, warehouses and land. The management and professional departments were also extremely busy taking on 9 new shops to manage in Uckfield as well as 4 new industrial units. Demand for retail premises throughout the Wealden area remains strong with few retail units available. Generally shops did not remain on the market for long but there were very few freeholds changing hands as so few became available. The legal process did not seem to improve and often when deals were agreed it took many months before a transaction was concluded.
Wel would welcome more instructions from landlords who want to find new tenants as well as existing tenants who want to move. For several Wealden towns we have waiting lists of applicants looking for the right retail premises. It was notable during the course of the year that a number of businesses decided to concentrate on internet retailing rather than trade from a conventional High Street location. This trend continues and will change the look of many of our local High Streets. This pattern is reflected nationally. We welcomes the Government’s recent pledge to review the Business Rating system which is a major factor in deterring potential retailers from acquiring High Street premises.
There was strong competition for the few industrial units that became available. Freeholds often attracted more than one buyer. The Knights Business Centre at the Squires Farm Industrial Estate in Palehouse Common came on stream during the course of the year and there are currently only 2 out of the 15 units still available. Businesses that took space there included a microbrewery from Groombridge, an engineering company from Plumpton, a nuts & bolts/fastenings company relocating in Uckfield, 2 storage & distribution companies who are both local and taking larger premises, and Sussex Stone & Granite from Ninfield who are acquiring 7,000 sq ft with a yard for their new manufacturing plant. Following grant of planning permission Allied Waste are also relocating from Sheffield Park to this development.
After grant of planning permission for reserved matters the Ashdown Business Park at Maresfield now has full detailed planning for 10 individual sites ranging from 1 acre up to 4 acres. Negotiations are already in hand with one company from outside the area who are looking to acquire one of the larger sites for a distribution warehouse. This is one of the gems in our area as it is the only land with detailed planning consent for industrial and office development in North Wealden and represents an excellent opportunity for businesses to acquire their own freehold sites and construct a modern building for their business. We have been appointed sole agents for the marketing of these sites which has its own website at www.ashdownbusinesspark.com.