A leading property consultancy is urging councils to do more to help stimulate the construction of commercial units for start-up businesses in Worcester as it sees demand far outstripping supply in and around the city.
Fisher German is calling on local authorities to help identify sites and assist in the delivery of new units for smaller businesses, and for landowners with potential development sites available to come forward.
The firm, which has an office in the city, has reported that demand for commercial units in Worcester and the surrounding area has increased significantly during 2021 after receiving a high volume of enquiries from start-up businesses looking for small commercial units.
The call-out comes after Fisher German agreed lettings on eight units at Withy Wells Business Park, based on the Spetchley Park Estate, in just three months.
The newly-built business park, which includes 10 units ranging from 859 sq ft to 1776 sq ft, is now fully let – with all of the units attracting a large amount of interest.
Lauren Allcoat, of Fisher German, said: “There is a severe supply and demand imbalance for commercial units across Worcestershire but this is particularly acute in and around Worcester itself.
“This year we have seen enquiries pick up ten-fold as confidence in the market increases, particularly for small starter units, but there is a lack of available commercial space in the area.
“All of the small to medium-sized commercial units we have marketed in the city recently have attracted a high level of interest, and on occasion we have needed to go to best and final offers due to the competition – something which has been relatively unheard of for industrial units of this size in the area.
“We saw this further evidenced through the rate of lettings achieved at Withy Wells. The newly-built business park contains 10 high-quality units and is in a strong location, so we received an extremely high number of enquiries.
“There are still a large number of businesses looking for commercial premises, and it is a trend that looks set to continue.
“We require further developments of a similar nature and are calling on the local authorities to show their support, helping to identify and deliver land and planning permission quickly for any future developments.”
Rob Champion, Partner at Fisher German, added: “It’s time for some creative thinking when it comes to increasing the supply of commercial units in and around Worcester.
“More land needs to be identified and brought forward for smaller scale employment generating uses and it’s difficult to see that materialising without public sector intervention and assistance particularly as most allocated employment site are tied up with larger strategic urban extension or new settlement proposals.
“Ultimately, there simply aren’t enough available units to cope with current demand, and we need to urgently address that to help the local economy move forward and avoid a potential out-migration of businesses from the city.
“Start-up and owner-managed businesses are not only the lifeblood of the economy, they are also the major employers of tomorrow, and it would be a great shame if they were forced to look elsewhere and the corresponding economic benefit was to be lost.”