Shortage of industrial sites pushing artisans out of Bath

The increasing shortage of commercial property in Bath is prompting more firms to look just down the road in Bristol for ‘hands on’ premises, according to sector specialists at Bruton Knowles.

Will Nell, based at the firm’s Bristol office, has just brokered a move for Source Antiques to a unit at Flowers Hill Close in Brislington.

Previously based at Midland Road in Bath, Source are just one of the companies switching to the south eastern outskirts of Bristol where there is a greater choice of available industrial property within their price range.

Owner Rod Donaldson said the business had operated from various locations in Bath for the past 20 years but rocketing business rates had forced them to look elsewhere.

He said: “We spent two and a half years looking for suitable premises in Bath but the business rates being demanded are equivalent to us employing an extra member of staff. There are plenty of small workshops and artisan businesses looking for accommodation in Bath but it seems the local authority is more interested in gentrifying the place.

“Eventually, they will have to decide whether they want a picture postcard city for rich retirees and effectively get rid of all Bath’s industrial heritage. Not all of Bath’s small businesses and artisans will fit into the railway arches.”

Source, which specialises in the reclamation of industrial lighting and furniture, has taken 4,713 sq ft at their new site at Flowers Hill Close.

Rod said the firm had been looking forward to the switch to Brislington: “The Flowers Hill premises is a wonderful art deco factory built in 1956 which is the year I was born. It will be a fantastic setting for our range of 1950s style retro kitchens and lighting.”

Source recently renovated two kitchens for the popular Channel 4 series George Clarke’s Amazing Spaces and have also supplied a new kitchen for songstress Paloma Faith.
The company also supply props and backdrops for TV shows including fifties-based favourite Call the Midwife.
Will Nell said: “The Flowers Hill Industrial Estate is located on the east side of Bristol just two miles from the City Centre and boasts good links in and out of town to the A4 and Hicks Gate.

“Talking to clients like Rod suggests the shortage of small scale industrial space is beginning to bite. It might be time for the local authorities to look at freeing up more land close to the A4 Hicks Gate roundabout to help find room for firms being squeezed out of Bath.”

“Whilst Bath is a prosperous business location the focus has been more on retail and office uses rather than supporting the development of industrial space.

“Businesses are beginning to run out of options if they need to move after growing out of their old premises which is resulting in an increased number of enquiries coming from Bath based occupiers.

“The council talks about employment opportunity but seems more focused on attracting high tech industries rather than the more traditional blue collar sector which used to dominate locations such as the Lower Bristol Road.”