Freeport East status boosts demand for 'big shed' space in Suffolk

The Gateway 14 business park will be located next to the A14 at junction 50, Stowmarket. Picture: SE

Building work is expected to start soon on the Gateway 14 business park next to the A14 at junction 50 at Stowmarket - as demand for industrial space near the busy trunk road soars - Credit: Sealand Aerial Photography Limited

The announcement of freeport status for Felixstowe/Harwich has unleashed a wave of demand for industrial space – especially along the A14, according to estate agents.

Savills’ latest Big Shed Briefing shows take-up of industrial space has hit new heights in the East of England.

A total of 2.66m sq ft (247,122sq m) was recorded in 2021, it said. This was 136% above the long-term annual average. 

“This can largely be attributed to significant activity along the eastern stretch of the A14 corridor following the recent Freeport East announcement,” said Savills.

Freeport status offers a host of tax and other breaks for those inside its confines, which include the two ports of Felixstowe and Harwich – and Gateway 14 at Stowmarket, which lies just off the A14 east to west trunk road into the Midlands.

Savills cites a host of key deals across the region, including a 76,000sq ft (7,060sq m) pre-let to Hermes at Jaynic’s Suffolk Park in Bury St Edmunds. 

The site is also home to a 840,000sq ft warehouse belonging to Belgian logistics giant Weerts Group. 

Part of the Weerts complex is occupied by footwear retailer Skechers which has 322,917sq ft worth of space which could expand to 430,556sq ft.

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Savills said that since being granted Freeport status in March 2021, the region has seen a rise in enquiries from “a diverse range of occupiers looking to take advantage of the benefits afforded by being located on one of the designated schemes”. 

Among the draws are Jaynic’s 156 acre (63 hectare) site at Gateway 14 and Curzon de Vere’s Port One Logistics Park in Great Blakenham, near Ipswich.

The flurry of activity has led to a 33% fall in supply, said Savills.

Currently there is 985,000sq ft (91,509sq m) available across three units, equating to just under five months’ worth of supply, it said. Constraints including that 60% of existing stock is categorised as Grade C have led to a big rise in rents quoted. 

These have risen by as much as 16%, or £7 per sq ft (£75 per sq m).

There is a “significant” amount of development in the pipeline as a result, including 160,000sq ft (14,864sq m) at Suffolk Park.

Savills Eastern region industrial team director Phil Dennis said: “It is fantastic that the East of England has continued to outperform with some significant deals in 2021. 

Freeport East would continue to drive demand – particularly along the Eastern stretch of the A14 corridor, which is already seeing “unprecedented” demand, he said.