9th April 2014
Exeter – chiefs of the South West
Exeter is a city that is starting to ride the crest of a very exciting wave. It’s had some high profile inward investment success stories in recent years, with the relocation of the Met Office, the opening of a John Lewis store and now confirmation that a new Ikea will be built. And then last month the Exeter Chiefs gave the city national headlines with their stunning win over Northampton at Sandy Park.
But as property agents working with developers, investors and occupiers across the South West, we are focussed on looking forward and we see a city that has a very rosy future ahead of it. There is still enormous unrealised potential and as confidence returns to the market, we believe we’ll see Exeter benefitting from significant inward investment, development and employment over the next five years.
Predictions from Exeter and East Devon Councils suggest that over the next 20 years, 20,000 homes and 26,000 jobs will be created. These figures are unmatched across the South West and will go a long way to enhancing Exeter and its reputation as the foremost city in the South West.
One of the key reasons for Exeter’s past and future success is its geography. Exeter is the gateway to much of the South West and benefits from its airport and links to the M5. The recent issues faced by the rail network and the damage to the line at Dawlish highlights the fragility of the infrastructure as you head further west.
Exeter is home to a number of high profile developments that will provide businesses with the land and accommodation they need to expand. We are currently acting on behalf of Prego developments and Eagle One at Matford Business Park where we have secured high profile tenants including VW for a major showroom and have exchanged contracts with another major manufacturer subject to planning. We’re also in negotiations with a third equally high profile brand. Exeter has been described in our negotiations as the regional hub with other locations like Plymouth being the spokes. These developments will be the catalyst for further expansion of this next phase of 27 acres.
No article on the prominence of Exeter would be complete without comment on SkyPark. This joint venture between Devon County Council and St Modwen will pave the way for 1.44 mil sq ft of employment development and is at the heart of Exeter’s Growth Point region. There is enormous interest in this development and as agents we are in discussions with a number of occupiers. In fact almost every occupier who looks at Exeter looks at SkyPark.
Then there is the exciting Science Park development and Eagle One’s adjoining office campus which is already home to Eagle One and the Blur Group. Combined they will provide almost 1.0 mil sq ft to further enhance the knowledge-based economy that Exeter is becoming famous for.
So what effect will Ikea have on our local economy? Figures provided by Ikea show a turnover of £52 million by 2018, with 380 new jobs, some of which will no doubt be part-time. While it might be difficult to quantify how many people travelling to Ikea will then head into the city centre, what is certain that a 300,000 sq ft blue box located next to Sandy Park will attract attention and bring Exeter to the notice of people who perhaps otherwise wouldn’t have considered travelling to the city.
Looking to the future, we need to consider the various influencing factors which either help or hinder the region’s growth. The Heart of the South West LEP is in the final stages of drafting its strategic economic plan for 2014 – 2030. At an event where the business community could comment on the current draft, feedback focused almost unanimously on the diversity in the local economy and the promotion of that diversity to attract future funding. Our local and regional economy is diverse and that is what will help deliver growth.
Alder King learned recently that we had won the title of Most Active Agent in the South West from Estates Gazette for a 13th successive year. This recognises our involvement in the majority of all commercial property transactions in the region. We understand what makes this region tick and we look forward to working with and supporting the business community and local government as we move into more prosperous times.