HS2 a ‘major challenge’ for logistics developers

Andrew Dickman, director of db Symmetry
Andrew Dickman, director of db Symmetry
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HS2 has become a major challenge to industrial developers in West Yorkshire after putting a blight across sites earmarked for distribution centres, according to one of the region’s biggest logistics developers.

Andrew Dickman, director of db Symmetry, which is developing almost two million sq ft of space in Yorkshire, told The Yorkshire Post that land supply was becoming a major issue for developers in the Leeds area, with the £55.7bn rail project a major contributing factor to the shortage.

“Finding sites to build on and getting them consented is becoming more difficult and we’re finding there is a gap in Leeds and Bradford,” he said.

“HS2 has become a major challenge to industrial development, particularly in the Leeds conurbation because it’s put a blight across a number of sites that were previously conceived as being distribution sites. So the supply side is constrained.”

He added: “We look around at what’s happening from a local planning perspective and we’ve seen there is a challenge there. You can’t build buildings in the air.”

When contacted by The Yorkshire Post, a council spokesman pointed to plans for a new high-speed rail institute in Leeds and the HS2 Rolling Stock Depot, which he said would offer ‘significant benefits’ for Leeds and the wider city region when the project comes to fruition.

DB Symmetry identifies land for logistics development, gains planning permission and then builds schemes either speculatively or on a pre-let or pre-sold basis.

The developer, which works nationally, is currently building 1.65m sq ft of space in Yorkshire and the surrounding borders.

In the next six to eight weeks, the firm is ‘highly likely’ to announce plans to develop another 250,000 sq ft in the region, Mr Dickman said.

In addition, there are two sites going currently through the legal process for acquisition, which will double its eastern Pennines landbank to 280 acres.

Mr Dickman said: “With 1.9m sq ft of space going up, I don’t think there’s anyone building more industrial space in this part of the country.”

However, the company’s current bias is towards the east of the region, he said, and the firm is keen to find sites in West Yorkshire. “We want to be able to solve all demand issues along the M62 corridor,” he added.

The developer recently completed the first phase of its Doncaster development - a 150,000 sq ft speculative unit at Symmetry Park, a £70m distribution scheme.

“We’re still very cautious about speculative development. We only do it when we absolutely believe in it because the input costs of building that building and having it vacant are very significant to any business,” Mr Dickman said.