Danny Pinkus, partner at Lancashire agents Robert Pinkus & Co, offers an overview of the Fylde Coast commercial property market.
Fylde rents for industrial and office property remain consistent throughout the region, especially new property stock. There remains an oversupply of modern business park offices in out-of-town locations and the current demand for this type of accommodation is of a limited level – there's been more built than the market can sustain, generally in South Blackpool.
There also remains an oversupply of second-hand offices and industrial accommodation in the region. However, isolated locations such as Poulton Business Park remain active. Serving North Blackpool, rentals on Poulton Business Park remain relatively high as it's a sought after location with limited supply on the park.
Fleetwood is historically reliant on the port for its industry and there is a reasonably good balance of supply and demand for businesses units. A new Fish Park proposal, a sustainable commercial quarter with improved transport links to the town for the South Docks area, has been floated by Wyre Council and if this goes ahead, it would be an excellent boost for the town's economy, putting Fleetwood back on the commercial property map.
Existing property stock would be freed up allowing businesses to upgrade to newer, more modern accommodation and it would attract further specialist industries, more investment and jobs to the area.
Retails rents throughout the Fylde coast have remained consistent showing no signs of growth in the last two years. However we have seen Blackpool's prime rents knocked by the opening of the Houndshill Shopping Centre, which has created more voids on the High Street.
There has been a strong uptake of retail properties in Lytham in recent months with the likes of Tesco taking the former Woolworths and Fat Face at the old Booths supermarket, leaving very few voids on the high street and we have seen retailers now starting to consider St Annes as an alternative location.
There are no out-of-town retail parks in St Annes, Lytham, Cleveleys or Poulton. Fleetwood has the Freeport Designer Outlet Village, but these rents are turnover based. Blackpool has the Clifton Retail Park, Blackpool Squires Gate Retail Park and Cherry Tree Road Retail Parks, which appear to be trading well with the only available unit on Cherry Tree due to go under offer.
There is currently very little new development across the Fylde, largely down to the economic situation and the lack of employment land currently available. There has been very little speculative development in the last two years in the Fylde. Empty rates liability and the economic downturn have been attributing factors.
There is a shortage of commercial land in the right areas, namely close to the M55 hub. If a council initiative gets off the ground to promote commercial and residential development at the end of the motorway, this will be a good way to focus future growth for the area.
There are pockets of activity, such as the former TVR site at Bispham. This refurbished space serves the 'budget accommodation' market and receives a good, steady demand for units. It has proved very popular with local SMEs with light industrial requirements and there are only a handful of units still available on the site.
Moving forward into 2010, the commercial property market is beginning to experience a shortage in a good quality industrial space as Blackpool Business Park nears capacity and other smaller estates such as Poulton Business Park and Harbour Trading Estate in Fleetwood are already over-subscribed.