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Property seminar asks: ‘Where are the cranes?’

Concern is growing at the limited activity to build new premises as supplies of Grade A office stock and industrial property continue to dwindle. Yet the demand is there, property agents maintain.

The forum, hosted by commercial property agent Bidwells, focused on the barriers to growth and the catalysts to overcome those barriers.

Keynote speakers included Anna Rose, service director planning and transport at Milton Keynes Council. She called on developers and stakeholders to come forward to highlight their needs, concerns and plans.

Milton Keynes is a major 21st-century city, among the UK’s 20 biggest, and has a host of key drivers which will ensure its success such as infrastructure, land, environment and labour supply. She urged developers to be “knocking on her door with ideas.”

Milton Keynes Development Partnership chief executive Charles Macdonald told delegates that the key to encourage development, was through working in partnership and highlighting the key unique qualities Milton Keynes had to offer including its track record and brand and the quality of schemes.

Recent research by Bidwells has found that the net development value per sq ft in Milton Keynes ha sreturned to the pre-recession levels of 2006. Head of commercial Roger Yates said: "With dwindling supplies of Grade A office stock and industrial availability reaching historic lows, Milton Keynes looks ripe with opportunities for new development but despite all this activity is still currently limited."

The past ten years had seen little office development other than The Pinnacle and Network Rail’s national centre in Central Milton Keynes and VW Financial Services’ new headquarters at Tongwell.

“Yet two new buildings built speculatively last year were immediately snapped up and were let at record rents for out of town lettings,” said Mr Yates.

Research by Bidwells has found that the net development value per square foot in Milton Keynes has risen to levels not experienced since 2006.

Independent research consultant Steve Mallen added: "In the next 20 years not only is the economic productivity of Milton Keynes expected to exceed both the South East and the UK the differential is forecast to widen, making the city progressively more prosperous."

Questions from the floor debates issues over flexibility for developments and parking concerns.

After the seminar, Mr Yates said: “We discussed the barriers facing commercial property growth and the possible catalysts that could unlock the city’s potential. It was a really interesting event and great to get so many key people all under one roof discussing what can be done to help Milton Keynes reach its full potential." 

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