It has been almost a year since we moved offices from Guildford to Woking. During that time, we’ve grown our presence in Surrey expanding our service line provision and acquired Chertsey-based New Ballerino.
We have grown our agency instruction base to more than 700,000 sq ft - the second largest in Surrey.
Over the last 12 months, we’ve also worked with a host of clients from local businesses and Local Authorities, to investors and developers, on their strategic property needs.
There are several things that can affect a business’ strategic property requirements.
To demonstrate some of these, we’ve drawn up a handy infographic, which speaks to several key themes here – from transport connectivity and infrastructure, to residential and commercial property supply.
In spite of continued economic uncertainty around the dreaded B word, if our experience over the past year is anything to go by, there is much to be excited about in Surrey.
Transport and connectivity
With the M25, M3 and M23 all running though the region and easy access to key transport hubs such as Heathrow, Gatwick and the ports of the south coast, Surrey benefits from fantastic connectivity which makes it popular as a place to locate for both City commuters and businesses alike.
And with the world class University of Surrey on our doorstep too, we attract a large number of international students in Surrey, making it a fantastic and multi-cultural place to work and live.
However, infrastructure here is coming under increasing pressure, with overcrowded (and expensive) trains and significant traffic issues on motorways such as the M25, as well as pinch points in towns such as Guildford.
But there are some exciting infrastructure projects in the pipeline here and in the surrounding area, from the expansion of Heathrow to the north to direct rail connections from Woking to Terminal 5, should the Heathrow Southern Rail Link go ahead.
Not to mention the potential of HS2. Yes, it is currently under review, but areas like Epsom could really benefit from this.
Work on the A3 to address traffic hot spots in Guildford, together with road improvements in Woking and work on the M25 Junction 10 / A3 interchange, will hopefully deliver benefits such as increased capacity and a reduction in delays.
We’re also witnessing the role out of significant new technology infrastructure across the region which is set to transform the way we do business.
There has been much talk of how the new 5G networks will bring a faster and more reliable network to Surrey, and Guildford will be one of the first locations to benefit from this imminently.
These are just a handful of some of the key infrastructure improvements going on in Surrey currently which will have a significant impact on how we travel, reducing traffic congestion and carbon emissions, whilst improving how we do business.
Whilst not exclusive to Surrey, you can see from our infographic the widespread and controversial issue of lack of land supply or sites that are forthcoming for either commercial or residential uses.
Development in a number of our Boroughs is significantly held back by the Greenbelt and this, coupled with delays in the Local Plan process and the introduction of CIL, are all factors which have contributed to the halt in commercial and residential development in Surrey.
A focus on residential development through permitted development rights, together with employment sites which have been lost for residential development, has affected commercial property supply in Surrey.
This has impacted commercial property values where we have seen an increase in both rental and capital values over the last few years.
Despite this, there remain some good opportunities with the likes of the development at Longcross coming forward and significant investment in towns such as Woking where there are some fantastic office opportunities.
Guildford is a top 25 retail location in the UK, but we also have a number of other excellent retail centres in Surrey, including Woking, Kingston and Camberley.
However, retail remains a difficult market currently, as the face of retail continues to change and more of us shop online. This has led to the demise of big brands such as Debenhams and a move towards more residential opportunities, such as with Guildford’s North Street redevelopment project.
The residential market in Surrey has been under pressure and some developments are selling really well, whereas others are struggling.
Residential opportunities need to be the right product in the right market.
Help to Buy has been key in the residential market and is currently underpinning the market across the region, whereas at the other end of the scale we’re seeing developers pull out of speculative development in the super prime sector.
However, we are still seeing a significant demand for residential land, so opportunities for developers still abound.
In spite of continued economic uncertainty around the dreaded B word, if our experience over the past year is anything to go by, there is much to be excited about in Surrey – from infrastructure, skills and technology, to attracting and retaining talent.
We’ve been active in Surrey for over 30 years now, and we are delighted to be a part of the economic fabric of the county, doing our bit to help businesses and local authorities in the area to make the most of the opportunities available to them.