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News Release


Exeter’s future job growth could be inhibited if demand for manufacturing and logistics sites is not met

Businesses are being pushed out of the city to outlying locations due to lack of space Businesses are being pushed out of the city to outlying locations due to lack of space

The property consultancy, which is hosting its annual South West Property Market Review in Exeter tomorrow (Feb 1), says we must ensure suitable land is earmarked for manufacturing businesses in the Greater Exeter Strategic Plan, which is at a key stage in its development, otherwise businesses will go elsewhere.

Tim WesternTim Western, lead director at JLL in Exeter, said: “There is huge pent-up demand from logistics and manufacturing businesses for both sites and purpose-built space in and around Exeter, but very little supply. A focus on providing homes is of course important, but we need to support jobs creators too, so our communities have places to work as well as live.

“We have now seen a significant number of businesses move within Devon to along the M5 and A38 corridor, such as Cullompton, Heathfield, and Willand as they can’t find what they are looking for in Exeter. These locations aren’t their first choice geographically, but they provide what they need property wise.

“Of course, Exeter’s loss is mid-Devon’s gain, but to ensure the future prosperity of the city, it is vital that the strategic plan identifies suitable land for employment uses in the right locations: near transport links and where businesses can recruit the right staff.”

The only two employment sites available in Exeter that cater for manufacturing and logistics businesses are the last remaining plot at Matford Green and the remainder of Skypark. Meanwhile, employment sites on the outskirts of Exeter such as Hill Barton and Greendale are full up and with no immediate signs of expansion.

JLL says sites around Exeter Airport that feed into the upgraded junction 29 need to be opened up quickly.

One example of a business, which faced this challenge is Dragonfly Foods, which is part of Japanese company Hikari Miso. The food manufacturing business sought space in Exeter or Teignbridge for its expansion, but in the end had to move to Willand due to a lack of options. The Japanese tofu maker, which supplies the majority of the health food wholesalers along with one of the biggest health retailers Holland & Barrett, is now based at new premises at Hitchcocks Business Park.

Amanda Robson, managing director at Dragonfly Foods, said “We were based in Buckfastleigh and sought a large property in the Teignbridge or Exeter area to facilitate our expansion. We were unable to find any options which met our requirements. We are delighted with our new factory at Hitchcocks Business Park. It is a really unique site combining idyllic surroundings with fabulous location for transport links.”

Western said that the delivery of employment sites often takes longer to deliver than other types of development such as housing, so the region needs to be thinking 25 years ahead in terms of strategic planning.

“We don’t want to be faced with a bottleneck, so we must plan for the long-term future, knowing that the next set of land or space that becomes available will get eaten up by the pent-up demand. We must provide choice to businesses whether they are existing firms looking to grow or international parcel delivery companies seeking to relocate to Exeter”, said. Western.

JLL says that take up of industrial space south of Bristol is lowest it has been for the past 10 years with less than 2% availability in Exeter, Teignbridge and Plymouth.

This comes at a time when there is also an acute shortage of high quality office space in Exeter with very little speculative office development in the pipeline. Enterprise Square at Exeter Skypark is the first speculative office building being built in the city for nearly 10 years and is expected to break the £20 per sq ft barrier, says JLL.

Western said: “Construction costs are high and office space has in many cases been lost to other higher value uses such as residential and student housing, meaning we are facing a severe shortage of Grade A office space in the city. How about a new business district in Exeter around one of the transport nodes, for example one of the city’s two main railway stations?”

JLL is hosting its annual South West Property Market Review tomorrow at Sandy Park in Exeter at 6pm. They will be sharing key insights and discussing the big issues for the region’s property industry in the year ahead.