Recently renamed Staines-upon-Thames, this is the closest town centre of note to Heathrow Airport. Whilst perhaps lacking true glamour, the riverside setting is far more pleasant than the name implies and the towpath / parks provide superb breakout opportunities for workers. Although the recent loss of Waitrose is a blow, the town centre has also seen new, aspirational restaurant brands, such as GBK, Limeyard and Wagamama, move in.
These amenities support a youthful, skilled working population with a strong emphasis on tech. Gartner, Future Electronics, VMWare and Service Now are major players in this field, if not necessarily household names to the ‘man on the street’. New build office product has generally been of high quality and offers the large, flexible floorplates increasingly demanded by the fast-moving tech sector.
Another sign of the ongoing appeal of Stainesupon- Thames to both business and residents is the new apartment development aimed at young professionals by London Square – traditionally a brand more comfortable in ‘cooler’ locations such as Teddington and Bermondsey.
Other town centre new-build apartments have been snapped up quickly too. Residential pricing remains competitive, especially relative to nearby towns such as Weybridge, Windsor and Egham. This can be a factor in appealing to younger workers, who typically tend to be more commute-averse.
Whilst considered a key Thames Valley location, the Elizabeth Line is potentially an issue for Staines-upon-Thames, with some footloose occupiers being dragged north as a result. Recent absorption of the remaining Grade A stock has been a little slow, rendering new speculative starts unlikely for the immediate future.
The amenity and aesthetics of the Causeway may need consideration as employees demand more ‘service’ overall. However its combination of a strong macro-position, good train service and M25 proximity for drivers, means that Stainesupon- Thames’ broad appeal should endure to occupiers from across the outer West London / western M25 region.
KNIGHT FRANK VIEW
Critically, in a very competitive marketplace, Staines-upon-Thames has managed to retain and grow its critical mass of tech firms. It is attracting major new occupiers such as VMWare and other major firms in the town are re-committing for the next decade or longer.
North American firms figure strongly amongst the bigger occupiers, given Heathrow’s proximity and this is likely to continue.
Rental growth, whilst slowing of late, has continued for the best new stock located in the town centre, such as Strata, and for schemes such as Lotus Park and Flow at the eastern end of the Causeway.
The absence of planned new starts and the continued loss of some peripheral / secondary stock to Permitted Development has driven headline rents close to the highest in the M25 ring, with £34.50 per sq ft the current high and forecast to rise by another 3% by 2021.