Bricks and Mortar: Lots of black clouds on the horizon...

By David Howell   |   Planning and property correspondent   |
Tuesday 26th January 2021 11:55 am
[email protected]
Share
The investment building purchased by Waverley, an M&S store that operates as a food hall ()

Subscribe newsletter

Subscribe to our email and get updates right in your inbox.

The house at the end of the road in which I live sold within a week of going on the market in December, and I understand, from the agents Warren Powell-Richards, for the asking price.

The housing market remains buoyant but the stamp duty holiday ends at the end of March. What happens then is anyone’s guess. Chancellor Rishi Sunak says he won’t extend it. A subject for next time.

*Flying off the shelf

Within the commercial sector I am told that industrial property is also ‘flying off the shelf’. Both our local commercial property agents are busy, one very apologetically too busy to speak to me prior to preparing this report.

Industrial units deals

Industrial properties in and around Farnham are being snapped up. My conversation with Iain Steele of Park Steele revealed that a retail company, with no outlets in Farnham, made an offer earlier this month and now is likely to complete on their lease for storage at Unit 3 in the Farnham Business Centre off Dogflud Way early February. A smart ‘High Tech’ company are planning to move into 5 Riverside Business Park also off Dogflud Way. I was told that the deal is progressing positively.

£25,000 threshold

However, the retail sector is generally not bearing up nearly as well. No, I am not surprised either. Interest in retail property below the £25,000pa threshold maintains positive and the interest is from independents not national retailing companies. A good thing for Farnham.

*Rosemoor Kitchen unit

You will have read about the car that parked in the former Rosemoor Kitchen restaurant in Downing Street in the 7 January edition of the Herald. The new tenant, also restaurant use, are negotiating to move into the shop soon. They have not been deterred and hope to be operational late spring.

Park Steele also have a tenant ready to move into to former LightHouse Clinic premises at 5 Cambridge Place. I have no details but a terrific location if Brightwells takes off.

*Curchod & Co report

Curchod & Co produce a report internally once a quarter on the status of the retail sector vacancy within a small defined area of Farnham town centre.

I have been given access to this and can tell you that although Farnham town centre is currently faring better than many other towns locally in respect of vacant units, it is catching up with other areas and the national average.

You will recall the Hot Retail Index 2020 Report put Farnham in 41st place. The Curchod Report indicates that there are a total of 153 shops within the area of coverage of which 20 are vacant. 13 per cent vacancy but the area excludes the former Swain & Jones space, former Kar Ling Kwong restaurant, the former Enchanted Wood shop.

The red line boundary will be increased to incorporate Brightwells which will add over 30 units over a nine month period, increasing the percentage probably to over 25 per cent.

*Brightwells

Despite asking, nothing new has been forthcoming on potential interested parties for the commercial units in the Brightwells development. Last I heard was Crest Nicholson continued to be positive!

Councillor Andy Macleod said that Crest are “talking to a great number of people” and “express every confidence they will have sufficient tenants” in July. I don’t believe that so why would you?

*Planning appeals

There were rumours that Berkeley Homes lodged an appeal on the refusal of their application to reduce the number of car parking spaces at the Woolmead development in the autumn. So, what has happened to the appeal?

I discovered very recently that the Planning Inspectorate (PINS) failed to inform Waverley about the appeal at Lower Weybourne Lane for 140 house, a trifle for PINS. Waverley are currently getting the date for residents to make representations extended. The original deadline date was Tuesday, January 5, 2021. You couldn’t make it up?

*Woolmead

What reason could there be for the application for the Woolmead appeal not being listed anywhere on the PINS website? No venue, administrative staff completely overwhelmed by appeals (and MHCLG are planning to intensify their involvement with all local authorities needing to produce new Local Plans PDQ) or they can’t they find suitable Inspectors for Farnham. You will recall the inspector that led the Folly Hill Inquiry didn’t exactly do us any favours.

*Waverley’s new investment

I can reveal although it may be old news by the time you read this that the investment property that Waverley have bought is in the High Street in West Wickham, Kent. The building is let to M&S and operates purely as a Food Hall. It has dedicated parking, acts a home-delivery (Ocado etc) hub and is one of their best preforming apparently. Not all bad, as I surmised in December.

*Overview

Our local commercial agents remain optimistic. They are, as I said earlier, working hard while I can’t say as much for the London-based commercial agents with property in Farnham who don’t respond to emails or telephone messages.

There is a fair amount of good going on currently, but the black clouds are coming.

More About:

Share

Comments

To leave a comment you need to create an account. |

All comments 0