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HCS welcomes Tour De France Grand Depart

Huddersfield will feature heavily in Stage 2 of this year’s Tour De France as a part of Yorkshire’s Grand Depart celebration. The race enters the town at Ainley Top, dissecting the town in half as it makes its way along the ring road before heading out to the King of the Mountains climb at Holme Moss through Honley and Holmfirth. Along the route there is plenty to showcase the success of the town and the millions that view the race will see a variety of property development completed in the form of the new technical college and also the construction of the new sports center is underway.

If we are to believe the press, the economy is strengthening and with it activity in the last six months of the Huddersfield commercial and industrial property market has begun to improve and the level of activity and property deals is certainly increasing. The recovery will be slow, but already the skyline of Huddersfield and surrounds is changing.

Planning gain obtained through the grant of planning permission for a new Tesco superstore has allowed the construction of the new Huddersfield sports centre located on the ring road. This will be on view to the millions of people around the world as the Tour De France peloton passes by on 6th July.

The University of Huddersfield continues to go from strength to strength and we have recently sold two buildings on behalf of clients to further the expansion of the university campus around the Firth Street area. This has fuelled private development too, with two new student residential schemes taking shape which will provide an additional 800 rooms in halls of residence.

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This growth is also regenerating the upper floors of town centre buildings traditionally used for offices. The downturn in the economy brought with it weak demand for offices. Much of the upper floor office accommodation in the town centre is tired and dated. Refurbishment is required, but with weak demand, owners are seeking out other opportunities and several buildings have been successfully converted to student residences, including the former Thatchers building on Dundas Street. Other planning applications are in the pipeline. Saturation is inevitable, but those purpose built developments close to the university campus and within the town centre will continue to be successfully let.

The house builders have returned too. The national operators are once again seeking sites and several developments are underway including Stirling Wood at Lindley Moor.

Engineering and textiles continue to be important employment sectors in the town. This is creating demand for new industrial units, and it is this sector of the industrial property market that is performing with demand outstripping supply. There is a real danger in the next 12 months there could be a shortage of modern industrial accommodation, which could lead to the potential loss of employment to neighbouring towns and cities, if new build developments are not commenced shortly.

There is certainly a scarcity of units in excess of 10,000 sq ft. We are acting for several industrialists trying to acquire suitable larger industrial premises, and this is proving difficult. More land does need to be released for industrial development and quickly. We have recently released a development site on the outskirts of Honley and already there are several developers and owner occupiers showing a keen interest. This lack of property means industrial rents and capital values have been sustained throughout the recession in comparison to the retail and office sectors.

It has been a challenging few years, but let’s hope the legacy of the Grand Depart will also be the continuing strengthening of the economy and the generation of employment within the town, particularly in the manufacturing sector, where Huddersfield benefits from a highly skilled workforce. More schemes are being discussed and will no doubt become reality – “Vive le Huddersfield!”

Written by Jason Metcalfe.

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