A look back at 2017 with Chris Lawson of Lawson Commercial

Chris Lawson, partner of Lawson Commercial reports his thoughts on the commercial property market through 2017:

2017 has been an eventful year following the UK general election and the unexpected result. This, combined with the ongoing speculation regarding Brexit discussions meant that business confidence became more cautious as the year went on. Despite this, in our region there was strong demand particularly in the industrial  sector.

Interest has been good at the Ashdown Business Park at Maresfield.

Site 5 was finally sold being acquired by Gunnebo Entrance Controls Ltd for their new headquarters building. Construction is now at an advanced stage and Gunnebo hope to be taking occupation in Spring 2018. Site 9 was split into two and half was sold to an Edenbridge plumbing company for their new headquarters building.  Currently there are several offers under consideration for a combination of Sites 1, 2 & 3 all of which will be subject to new planning permissions. They include interest from a pub restaurant operator, a budget hotel and a drive-thru coffee business.  Lawson Commercial also have strong interest in Sites 6 & 7 and a sale has been agreed for both sites to a single business who will be varying the existing planning consent which is for over 20,000 sq ft of offices. If this goes through to completion construction work should start there in the Summer of 2018. Thus there is now not much land with planning left here for sale.

Another significant Lawson Commercial deal was of Gunnebo’s existing premises on the Bellbrook Estate at Uckfield.

Lawson Commercial acted for the successful purchaser, a manufacturing company from West Sussex, who acquired this 30,000 sq ft building and will be taking occupation when Gunnebo finally relocate to the Ashdown Business Park. During the course of 2017 Lawson Commercial also relocated Westminster Teak from Westminster House in Bolton Close into Birch House on Brambleside, a unit of some 16,000 sq ft including some 1st floor offices which has undergone significant refurbishment.

During the course of the year Lawson Commercial additionally handled a number of smaller lettings including 5,000 sq ft at the Enlightened Business Park at Palehouse Common on the outskirts of Uckfield to Alliance Boots as well as 5,000 sq ft at Holbein Place on the Bellbrook Business Park to pharmaceutical company Waremoss Ltd. Despite all the political uncertainty the strong demand for industrial units is giving rise generally to a shortage of available space for businesses to consider.

Lawson Commercial have found that, despite the growth of online internet shopping there was still plenty of demand from people wanting proper retail premises and there were a number of deals concluded during the year in Heathfield, Uckfield and Crowborough. Some interesting and innovative businesses opened including a specialist guitar shop in Church Street Uckfield and a vaping and mobile phone shop for Heathfield. Good to see also that an established estate agents in Crowborough have expanded into larger and more prominent premises.  A new jewellers has moved into Uckfield High Street shortly to be followed by a branch of Subway.

The demand for offices was not as strong as had been expected although there wasn’t a huge amount of supply either. The demand for high quality refurbished farm buildings remains strong with the three new suites created at Glynde by Glynde Estates quickly finding new tenants.

However enquiries for the more rural locations are still extremely sensitive to good broadband which for many parts of rural Sussex continues to be a major problem. Notable transactions concluded by Lawson Commercial included the Childrens Respite Trust acquiring premises in the heart of Uckfield High Street for their new day centre and administration centre together with a new children’s day nursery opening in Falmer Court in London Road, Uckfield.

In summary overall 2017 was very similar to 2016 being a good, solid year with some evidence of business hesitancy. Although business is not exactly booming several businesses saw opportunities for growth although the big limiting factor particularly in the industrial sector is the shortage of units. As we have been saying for some time local businesses have problems in expanding and there is a shortage of opportunities for businesses from outside the area wanting to relocate because of the shortage of space. With huge amount of housing proposed over the next 10 years there needs to be a political will locally to make more sites available for commercial development. No longer can councillors say there is always Ashdown Business Park for north Wealden because there is now little left there. If business is to continue thriving in this area and provide employment for the increasing population more thought needs to be given to providing room for business expansion.

Headquarters Type Offices Available in Crowborough

Lawson Commercial have been instructed to let some 9,000 sq ft above Lloyds Bank in The Broadway, Crowborough ideal as a small headquarters being right in the heart of the shopping centre and close to major retailers including Waitrose.

The accommodation is mainly open plan arranged on 3 floors served by a lift and having the benefit of a private car park at the rear with some 20 spaces plus. This is a great opportunity for a local business to expand whilst staying in the Town. It can either be let as a single unit at a slightly discounted rent or alternatively it could be let floor by floor. The 1st floor is 3,576 sq ft and is available at £36,000 pa.

The 2nd floor is 3,346 sq ft and available at £33,500 pa.

The 3rd floor is 2,157 sq ft and is available at £22,000 pa.

All these suites have very fine views across Crowborough.

The 1st and 2nd floors are in need of refurbishment which the Landlord will undertake to include new carpets and new suspended ceilings with LED lighting. The 3rd floor requires less refurbishment and is already partitioned into a number of individual rooms. Call us for more information.

Another Local Business Expands in Uckfield

Lawson Commercial have let Units 1 & 2 Yeowart Business Centre in Bell Lane, Uckfield to local business MPE Electronics.

They already occupy two units on the Bellbrook Business Park and have now acquired this third unit. The main building comprises just over 4,000 sq ft together with a rear office giving some 4,400 sq ft in total.

This unit was formerly occupied by Howden Joinery. We are delighted to find another local business is doing well and needs more space. We had hoped to find a trade counter user for this accommodation but the Landlord is pleased to have secured a long established local business for the unit.

Health & Safety This Christmas – December 2017

Posted on Uckfield Talk – Sadly only too true today. What happened to common sense!!

Please be advised that all employees planning to dash through the snow in a one-horse open sleigh, going over the fields and laughing all the way are required to undergo a Risk Assessment addressing the safety of open sleighs.

The assessment must also consider whether it is appropriate to use only one horse for such a venture, particularly where there are multiple passengers. Please note that permission must also be obtained in writing from landowners before their fields may be entered. To avoid offending those not participating in celebrations, we request that laughter is moderate only and not loud enough to be considered a noise nuisance.

Benches, stools and orthopaedic chairs are now available for collection by any shepherds planning or required to watch their flocks at night. While provision has also been made for remote monitoring of flocks by CCTV cameras from a centrally heated shepherd observation hut, all facility users are reminded that an emergency response plan must be submitted to account for known risks to the flocks. The angel of the Lord is additionally reminded that prior to shining his/her glory all around s/he must confirm that all shepherds are wearing appropriate Personal Protective Equipment to account for the harmful effects of UVA, UVB and the overwhelming effects of Glory

Following last year’s well publicised case, everyone is advised that legislation prohibits any comment with regard to the redness of any part of Mr. R. Reindeer. Further to this, exclusion of Mr. R Reindeer from reindeer games will be considered discriminatory and disciplinary action will be taken against those found guilty of this offence.

While it is acknowledged that gift-bearing is commonly practised in various parts of the world, particularly the Orient, everyone is reminded that the bearing of gifts is subject to Hospitality Guidelines and all gifts must be registered. This applies regardless of the individual, even royal personages. It is particularly noted that direct gifts of currency or gold are specifically precluded under provisions of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. Further, caution is advised regarding other common gifts, such as aromatic resins that may initiate allergic reactions.

Finally, for those involved in the recent case of the infant found tucked up in a manger without any crib for a bed, Social Services have been advised and will be arriving shortly.

Wishing you a very Merry Christmas – be safe out there…….

Ideal Premises for Wine Bar / Micro Pub Now Available

For anyone interested in opening a wine bar or micro pub we have the ideal premises which has recently become available.

75 High Street, Uckfield, right in the heart of the Town, has planning consent for just this type of use. It is a bit unfortunate that the last tenant who was trying to establish this kind of business here was perhaps undercapitalised and therefore was not successful. However we still believe that the idea would work in this location. It is right in the middle of the High Street and not close to any significant residential accommodation.

It offers just under 700 sq ft on the ground floor with a 1st floor for additional seating, storage & cloakroom facilities. The property is available on a new lease at £16,500 pa. Alternatively the premises would lend themselves very well for being a more conventional retail shop with storage/showroom at 1st floor.

Warehouse let in Bolton Close, Uckfield

Following the relocation of Westminster Furniture to new premises in Brambleside on the Bellbrook Estate in Uckfield Lawson Commercial have let their former warehouse at Units 5-8 Holbein Place on Bolton Close.

Although originally designed to be 4 individual units the dividing walls were never constructed and was originally let to Westminster Furniture as a single unit of just over 5,000 sq ft.

The asking rent was £40,000 pa and the premises have now been let, again a single unit, to pharmacy group Waremoss Ltd for expansion. We are very pleased to see this local business has decided to expand their Uckfield operation and saw this as an excellent opportunity to acquire some very good modern warehouse accommodation. During the course of 2017 there has been good demand for units of this size and we would welcome some more similar buildings to market for waiting applicants.

Festival of Christmas Trees in Uckfield

Lawson Commercial were pleased once again to be part of the Festival of Christmas Trees at Holy Cross Church in Uckfield this year.

What a fantastic display with some 99 trees.

We are told that nearly 6,500 people visited the display over the 3 days. This year the Lawson Commercial tree was on the balcony level.

Chris & Julia’s 2 year old grandson Austin came down from Milton Keynes to see and was very impressed. One tree at home is just not going to cut it this year. His favourite was the knitted bear tree.

There was fantastic catering and entertainment on offer including Jimmy the Juggler who made balloon animals including a bear for Austin as well as displaying his juggling skills. Uckfield FM also did a live broadcast on Saturday morning.

Well done the Holy Cross Church Team for organising such an amazing event once again.

The Lawson Commercial tree, after a trip in the back of a convertible causing some amusement to passers-by,  is now gracing the office reception.