Redditch badly needs more development land for employment than currently envisaged if it is to meet demand, an expert has warned.
Ian Parker, a director of property agents John Truslove, said the town could not wait for a start on the £70 million Redditch Gateway project – likely next year – where proposals are being presented to the public at a special exhibition in the Blue Inn Hotel from October 21-22.
He cautioned: “There is now a critical lack of available stock in Redditch and Bromsgrove, which is stifling growth.
“We must not put all our eggs in one basket, Redditch Gateway. The council needs to free up more land which may need to include Green Belt as well as brownfield sites.”
Redditch Gateway sits east of the town at the junction of the A4032 and A435 close to Ravensbank Business Park.
It will comprise 75 acres of employment land, including 915,000 sq ft of office and industrial space. It could create 2,500 jobs.
Real estate group Stoford is working alongside Gorcott Estate and the Homes & Communities Agency to deliver the scheme – Worcestershire Local Enterprise Partnership has backed it with a £1.8 million cash injection.
However, Mr Parker said he feared there would be a concentration on large 100,000 sq ft plus premises on a design and build basis when there was a “real need” for speculative development across a wide range of premises from 1,000 sq ft up to 200,000 sq ft … and delivered now.
He went on: “I absolutely welcome Redditch Gateway but both the council and Stoford need to crack on – let’s see diggers shifting earth in the earliest possible timeframe.
“And we cannot afford to simply focus on one project.
“We have been highlighting the problem for the last few years but the situation regarding lack of available stock is now critical. The chickens are coming home to roost and we are already missing out on job opportunities as companies targeting Redditch and Bromsgrove are forced to look elsewhere.”
Mr Parker highlighted how the only speculative build in the last ten years in Redditch had been niche developments, seven units at Hepworth Park, now fully let, and Acanthus Park, where the 50,400 sq ft Unit 2 is under offer.
In addition, John Truslove currently has clients in the process of seeking planning permission for a new development on the Enfield Industrial Estate of 11 units totalling about 22,500 sq ft – already the firm has provisionally agreed terms on three, such is the demand.
“Let’s be clear – I am not advocating concreting over half of Worcestershire,” stressed Mr Parker. “But Redditch is a hugely attractive location for manufacturing, light industrial and logistics businesses, to name three main sectors. Its central position at the heart of both England and the motorway network is a major pull.
“We have got to get on and provide the infrastructure if Redditch is to continue to prosper. Twiddling thumbs while waiting on Redditch Gateway isn’t good enough.”