It might not get the same level of attention as its Thames Valley neighbour, but Crawley and the wider Gatwick region has some of the most exciting office and industrial property opportunities in the South East currently. Stephen Oliver, partner at Gatwick-based property consultants, Vail Williams, discusses.
Boasting one of the region’s premier business parks at Manor Royal, and with transport infrastructure connecting the town to London every 2 minutes, the Gatwick Diamond region has become one of the most saleable property and job locations in the country.
The area is undergoing a complete transformation as Crawley town itself embarks on a multi-million pound make over, and there are now more property deals being done here than across much of the rest of the south east.
With jobs here projected to rise by 45,000 over the next decade (2012-2022) and more and more large corporates – from Nestlé and Elekta to Virgin and Deloitte – looking to make the region home, what can we expect from the office and industrial property market here?
There remains a steady office supply in the Gatwick area, in particular in the Manor Royal District, in particular for top-quality Grade A office space.
We are seeing rents reach record levels at £27.00 psf in places, despite the reasonable levels of office supply.
Indeed, such is the demand that some deals are being done on a pre-let basis prior to development, like Nexus Gatwick Road, in the heart of the Manor Royal District.
On the advice of Vail Williams, landlord, Surrey County Council, secured aviation training specialists, L3 Technologies, who committed to pre-lease 170,000 sq ft in 2017 and completion of the development has just taken place.
In recent months the area saw one of the largest office lets when, advised by Vail Williams, Regus took a 15-year lease from private real estate investors, Clearbell at Churchill Court, on 28,000 sq ft of Grade A space.
In a more recent deal struck by us again on behalf of Surrey County Council, Torrent Pharma recently expanded and committed to 5,000 sq ft at Nexus 4 Gatwick Road at £27.00 psf.
However, with virtually no new office developments in the pipeline and in the face of continued Brexit uncertainty, the future of the Gatwick office market could be said to look somewhat uncertain.
For the occupier, investor concern around the dreaded ‘B’ word means that there are, in fact, still good deals to be done – particularly where older refurbished buildings are involved.
When it comes to industrial and warehouse supply, there have been fantastic opportunities in older buildings which have undergone complete refurbishment, such as at Diamond Point on Fleming Way in Crawley.
In 2018, it was one of the largest industrial buildings available in the South East and it attracted enquiries from a very wide area and represented a fantastic opportunity for Vail Williams to secure on behalf of Aberdeen Standard Investments worldwide leader in flight simulation and training, CAE.
In one of the biggest lettings in Crawley for a number of years, CAE committed to a 15-year lease of 114,000 sq ft. The quoting rent was £10.50 psf.
And this isn’t the only high-profile business to make the area home. There have been a number of big-name brands which have made major long-term commitments to the Gatwick region in recent years, including the world’s leading oncology R&D specialists, Elekta.
With planning, acquisition and development advice from Vail Williams, Elekta made Manor Royal their 110,000 sq ft home in 2018 following a 4-year design and build project.
Based on the level of activity across the board from offices to industrial and warehouses, the Gatwick Diamond region is definitely the current property jewel in the south east’s crown.
As big brands continue to seek out this area for its excellent national and international connectivity, this jewel has the potential to appreciate in value at the blink of an eye.