Richard Jones from Barker Storey Matthews on Development in Peterborough

07:08 Friday 24th June 2011
Peterborough Breakfast Show
BBC Radio Cambridgeshire

PAUL STAINTON: Peterborough apparently needs more warehouses. It’s the view of a leading city businessman, who says he’s having enquiries from as far away as Felixstowe for warehouse space right here in Peterborough. Last month we revealed that Eddie Stobart, of coursem will be the first business to open a distribution centre in Great Haddon, this big development just to the South of Hampton. But the city’s MP Stewart Jackson said he wanted moreĀ  high-skilled jobs coming to Peterborough, and fewer warehouses. Richard Jones is the man who wants more warehouses, says we could do with a lot more warehouses, from Barker Storey Matthews. Morning Richard.
RICHARD JONES: Morning Paul.
PAUL STAINTON: So Stewart Jackson doesn’t know what he’s talking about, does he?
RICHARD JONES: Well I think there’s a common misconception in the town that there are absolutely loads of warehouses available. I think there are a lot of small warehouses, but actually, in the last year, a lot of big ones have let, and we’re actually running out of space.
PAUL STAINTON: Really? So we’ve got a market there, but nothing to sell?
RICHARD JONES: That’s right. There are probably now only about two or three large warehouses left in the town which are probably over 80.000 square feet. And we’ve got enquiries. They don’t always match what’s available. And the only option has really got to be to build. The other issue which the MP probably isn’t taking into account is that you have a lot of local companies who also want to expand. We’ve got two or three very good enquiries from local companies. If they don’t have the warehouses to move to, they’ll go elsewhere.
PAUL STAINTON: Yes, we heard from a company a few weeks ago, who said that they were getting no help to expand. There was nowhere to expand to. They were looking to go up to Grantham, Newark, or further South. So Great Haddon can’t come quick enough for you, and perhaps even before that occurs, we need to think about building other warehouses elsewhere around the city?
RICHARD JONES: Yes. I think there’s got to be a programme of some warehouse building. And that’s got to react to the market. We had this enquiry, which was as far away as Felixstowe. And this company were looking in Felixstowe. They couldn’t find anything in Felixstowe. They looked further and further afield, and now they’re starting to look in Peterborough. We’ve also had enquiries, people looking over from Northamptonshire, up from the Cambridge area, really looking to Peterborough as a possible option. But at the moment we are running out of those options. So this Great Haddon land will really offer the supply that the town needs.
PAUL STAINTON: The criticism often levelled at warehouse jobs is that they’re low-paid, they’re not very highly skilled, and they’re not bringing the sort of work we want in Peterborough. Can we afford to be that snooty about it?
RICHARD JONES: I think again that’s a misconception. I think there are a lot of managerial, director jobs, finance jobs in warehousing. And there are a lot of staff employed on that side. But I don’t think you need to say, just because we’re bringing warehousing, we’re not going to bring offices. There’s plenty of offices available in this town. We’re talking to a company, we’re in quite advanced negotiations with a company, that are an office company, purely offices. They’re looking at possible new build. They’re looking at an existing building on the business park. And they’ll bring two hundred and fifty jobs to the town, if that goes through. So there are options for offices. You don’t need to look at these two things mutually exclusively.
PAUL STAINTON: So what can we do then, if we’re turning business away at the moment, if we haven’t got the space, if we haven’t got the warehouses? What can we do?
RICHARD JONES: Well I think certainly the Haddon land was the right decision. I know there was a lot of opposition to it. But we’ve got to just encourage developers to build to what people want in Peterborough. And allocating that land was the right thing to do I think. It’s good access to the A1, and it’s the best place for a warehouse park.
PAUL STAINTON: And if the Council are listening this morning, as they generally are, should they do more right now to look for land to put some warehouses on, and attract some building work to Peterborough?
RICHARD JONES: Well I’m a reasonably good backer of the Council actually. They’re very positive in their outlook, and they want business to come here. There are a lot of other towns at the moment saying, we don’t want to expand, we don’t want to do certain things. And I think that’s just going to be a positive thing for Peterborough, to say that we’re here and we’ve got the space coming through and available.
PAUL STAINTON: Richard, thank you for coming in this morning. Appreciate your viewpoint. Richard Jones, Director of Barker Storey Matthews, who says we’re turning away business. We haven’t got the warehouses. We need to build more warehouses. Great Haddon is a great idea. Your thoughts this morning please. If there’s that much business out there, what can we do right now to attract it into Peterborough, if there are indeed jobs waiting to come here?