How to Choose Premises for Modern Factory Units


Over the past ten years there has been a surge in the provision of small workshop units built to standardised designs aimed to appeal to the widest possible range of tenants. Although special tax concessions have recently encouraged greater activity among private developers, most of these units have been provided by government bodies seeking to exploit the job creating potential of the small business sector. About two-thirds of local authori­ties have now built small units, some in jointly funded ‘partner­ship’ arrangements with private developers. The large building programmes of many of the New Town Development Corpor­ations are an attempt to compensate for the new towns’ inevitable lack of older premises. English Estates, the building arm of the Department of Trade and Industry, has concen­trated its small units programme in the towns and cities of the Assisted Areas, such as Newcastle and Liverpool, where un­employment is most severe. The Council for Small Industries in Rural Areas (CoSIRA) has focused its building on the depressed rural areas including, for example, parts of North­umberland, Cumbria, North Yorkshire and Cornwall.

Modern Factory Units

Small units can take four main design forms — terraced, semi-detached, detached or flatted. Terraces are by far the most common because this arrangement lowers building costs by reducing the amount of exterior walls. This in turn helps to reduce heating and maintenance costs. Terraced premises also allow some flexibility so that the size of individual units can be changed. Detached and semi-detached units are generally confined to the larger end of the small factory market although CoSIRA factories have also often taken this form, especially when building only one or two units in a village setting. CoSIRA units are noted for their high design standards, often using local building materials to blend in with the surrounding environment. Flatted factories in which firms occupy units in a multi-storey block are rarely built today, but in the 1960s, as part of the ‘high-rise’ fashion, a number of local authorities invested in this form of accommodation. Often the intention was to rehouse firms displaced in urban renewal programmes. For safety and environmental reasons, noxious, heavy, noisy or dangerous trades are not appropriate for this kind of property.

Rental charges for modern units depend not only on physical layout but also on location, site services provided and the quality of the environment. Many developers now take a ‘bare shell’ approach with few interior fixtures or facilities being provided. In such cases rents, particularly for the first occupant, should take into account the tenant’s fitting-out work or should be suspended for an agreed period while this work is done. Private developers may occasionally offer a higher standard of finish with more individualistic designs or extra features, such as separate space for office activities. Although rents (excluding rates) may reach £4.00 or £5.00 per square foot for good quality modern units on prime sites, charges between £1.30 and £3.00 are more typical.

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About the Author: Marie Mayle is a contributor to the MegaHowTo team, writer, and entrepreneur based in California USA. She holds a degree in Business Administration. She loves to write about business and finance issues and how to tackle them.

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