Oxfordshire: Demand for industrial space has reached record levels

Bidwells Spring 2021 Oxfordshire report reveals that due to intense activity in 2020, Oxford has shown robust growth with 27% take-up compared to 2019, bringing the area 43% ahead of the ten-year trend. As a result of this demand, rents have reached a new high of £15.00 per sq ft.

The acceleration of online retailing due to the pandemic has resulted in the distribution demand, taking up most of this activity. The Oxfordshire market has also had a strong take-up from the science and tech sectors during the later months of 2020.

Supply has increased to meet these record levels, with an 8.9% industrial availability rate available. Availability of space moved up to 774,600 sq ft, primarily due to the completion of 311,298 sq ft across two units at Didcot Quarter, aiding with meeting demand.

As industrial take-up booms, the Oxfordshire industrial market has recorded its second-highest six months take-up figure in H2 2020 despite the challenges of lockdown and the transition period out of the EU. Activity in H1 was particularly quiet with only 107,500 sq ft registered; however, H2 had a significant increase of 437,200 sq ft as the demand grew and continues to do so.

Construction commenced on the UK’s new National Space Propulsion Test Facility, based at Westcott Venture Park. The centre will enable UK companies and academics to test ‘state of the art’ space propulsion engines – the first within the UK. This facility will aid the UK’s growth of the space industry and evolve Oxfordshire’s’ cluster.

The Native Antigen Company has agreed to lease a new build 50,000 sq ft R&D and manufacturing building at the Oxford Technology Park; both buildings are set to be completed in summer 2021.

The UK-based electric commercial vehicle manufacturer Arrival Automotive has taken the final unit at Link 9 Bicester, bringing its total occupation at the site to 288,000 sq ft as it already occupys two units in Link 9.

To meet demands, in February 2021, planning applications for a new 32,000 sq ft space in Harwell Campus were accepted, reaching practical completion early in the new year. The most significant industrial letting in H2 2020 was at 170 Brook Drive, Milton Park, for 101,086 sq ft.

“Lack of larger transactions holds back activity in Oxfordshire industrial market. The industrial investment market in Oxfordshire remained quiet in 2020, with total activity of £23.6 million significantly below the previous year’s total transactions of £112.4m. Prime industrial yields in Oxford have continued to harden over the past five years, ending 2020 at 4.25%, reflecting the market’s increasing concentration of science and tech occupiers” Sue Foxley, research director at Bidwells.

Bidwells’ Spring 2021 report