The Corby juggernaut keeps on rolling

Wickes' new 25,000 sq ft store in Corby

Ian Harman BSc MRICS, a Director of commercial property agents Prop-Search, writes: Using population growth to fund regeneration has proved a successful model for Corby; a town that has reinvented itself after the loss of heavy industry.  And despite a few set-backs along the way, the past decade has been characterized by regeneration, growth and job creation, with the Corby juggernaut set to keep rolling.

The logistics market is one sector within the South-East Midlands that has continued to grow.  Northamptonshire not only offers a strategic advantage, forming part of the Golden Triangle, but is also key to supporting accelerated growth and success in a multi-channel world.  Corby is one town in the County that is reaping the rewards from this growing sector, which accounts for more than 11% of employment in the region.

Bibby Distribution is creating 50 new jobs in the town, having doubled the capacity of its Max Park site, by snapping up a neighbouring 212,500 sq ft warehouse at the end of last year.  The move ramps up its Max Park capacity to 424,000 sq ft, following a surging customer demand in the food sector. The new ambient warehouse will provide space for 60,000 pallets and will manage work from a variety of manufacturing and retail groups such as Morrisons, HiPP and Mizkan.  The Max Park site is now Bibby Distribution’s largest third-party logistics distribution campus and provides a central hub for its East Midlands operations, with prime links to the M1 and M6.

Work could commence later this year on the development of one of the UK’s largest logistics opportunities, which has the capacity to deliver 3,000 jobs over the course of time.  Frogmore and Mulberry Developments purchased the 250 acre site at Stanion Lane last year from ProLogis, for the development of their Midlands Logistics Park.  The land has outline planning permission for logistics and has been backed by NatWest in a joint venture with a £25m structured facility.  Groundworks are being completed and the first phase of the scheme marketed at distribution occupiers – offering facilities from 580,000 sq ft up to single building of 1,312,500 sq ft.  A second phase could also deliver an additional 1.5m sq ft of warehousing.

Mulberry Developments has also been active elsewhere in the town.  Having renovated a site within Corby’s leisure quarter on George Street, it has identified a new occupier for the former RBW unit within the Savoy Cinema complex, following the closure of the restaurant chain – which stood for ribs, burgers and wings.  The new occupier is rumored to offer USA style food with a twist.

The town centre, which has already seen millions of pounds of inward investment over the past few years from major land owners and developers – as well as from Corby Borough Council and other private operators – could be about to benefit from further development.  At the end of last year, Sovereign Centros held a public consultation into wide-reaching blueprints that would create a modern new southern gateway into the town centre, by revitalising the derelict south-east corner of the town centre.  Planning has now been submitted to redevelop and reconfigure the shop units at the eastern end of Market Walk, as well as demolishing the existing multi-storey car park.  The development will comprise up to 50,600 sq ft of retailing, including a department store and 405 space surface level car park.

Sovereign Centros has also had further success at Willow Place having paid a reported £71.7m for the 800,000 sq ft retail scheme in 2015.  The company has announced new lease agreements with fashion retailers H&M and TK Maxx.  H&M has committed to a new 15 year lease and is doubling the size of its store to 22,000 sq ft.  Meanwhile TK Maxx has extended its lease on 2 Willow Place to June 2031 as well as remodeling the 30,000 sq ft store.

The national café bar chain Loungers has also shown its commitment to the town, investing £500,000 to open a new outlet – Paletto Lounge – on Corporation Street.  The new cafe bar offers a contemporary retro ‘home from home, with dramatic artwork, oversized vintage sofas and statement light fittings; and has also created 20 new jobs.  Paletto Lounge aims to cater for all tastes throughout the day; the menu featuring tapas, burgers, all day brunch, salads as well as gluten free, vegan and children’s menus.

Out-of-town, more than 50 new jobs have been created with the opening of a new M&S foodhall on Phoenix Retail Park.  The 7,700 sq ft store offers more than 6,000 food and drink lines.  To the north of Courier Road, Wickes has also opened a new 25,000 sq ft store, with the creation of a further 25 new jobs – Prop-Search acted on behalf of the developer Frenbury Properties.

As Corby continues to grow, with the town’s population forecast to rise by 17% to 76,400 by 2024, Corby Borough Council is keen to encourage new business.  It has recently taken ownership of the former 65,000 sq ft Pearson Training Academy building off Bangrave Road, which will be rebranded as the Corby Innovation Hub.  It is hoped to attract more new and growing businesses – much like the Corby Enterprise Centre which is currently 100 per occupied.  Accommodation is being offered for office occupiers as well as those seeking industrial or warehouse space.

So with a significant housing boom looming and commercial growth, Corby continues to create its future – representing an attractive proposition for businesses seeking to expand and relocate, as well as being an attractive and vibrant place to live and play.