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Cooke & Arkwright
News 2016 Issue 3

Welsh Government building

Parties race to make business rate pledges ahead of election

Andrew West, partner and director of business rates at Cooke & Arkwright, reviews the Welsh parties’ business rate manifestos and explains why they need to go further:

Businesses lending an ear to the various political representations being made ahead of next week’s election may find themselves bemused over the rates pledges which seem to be rolled out across manifestos. This race to offer businesses the best deal is unsurprising, as the parties use both the Welsh Government’s newly devolved powers over business rates and the recognition that businesses are the backbone of the Welsh economy as leverage for their campaigns.

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Cardiff is one of the last cities in the UK not to have a Business Improvement District -BID (Swansea has just voted to keep its BID for another five years), but now businesses in the city centre are to decide whether this should change when they vote by ballot in June 2016, for or against. If they deliver a ‘Yes’ vote (more than 50% needed) then the democratically elected, not-for-profit, independent company controlled by the businesses that fund it, would have a five year period in which to invest funds raised, manage the BID area and improve the city centre and trading environment.

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Over £1.25m raised at property auction

Over £1.25m was raised when 70% of Lots were sold at Cooke & Arkwright’s property auction on behalf of the Welsh Government and other clients on 27th April. The auction, which took place at the Village Hotel in Cardiff, was very well attended with some Lots attracting a good deal of interest. Tathan Hall, a landmark building in the village of St Athan in the Vale of Glamorgan, attracted particularly strong bidding and was sold to a developer. Other lots included semi-detached houses in need of renovation in Rassau and Ebbw Vale, land in Newtown and Barry, retail units in Pontypridd, and a former cadet hut in Brynamman, all of which exceeded their guide prices.

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The Planning (Wales) Act 2015 further differentiates the planning systems in Wales and England and forms a key element of the Welsh Government’s ‘Positive Planning’ reform agenda. Many of the changes to the development management system came into force on 16 March 2016. The most significant change enforces applicants of major planning applications to undertake a statutory pre-application ‘public’ consultation process on the final draft application package for at least 28 days before the application is submitted to the local planning authority for determination. Cooke & Arkwright has been considering some of the implications of this for clients and landowners. We also spoke to a firm of planning consultants, Nathaniel Lichfield & Partners (NLP) with whom we work regularly, to seek their thoughts.

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There are many daily challenges, not to mention costs, of running a business. If you are a retailer, company owner or manager, you will be only too aware of this. But what happens when external influences over which you have no control have an adverse effect on your daily activities, maybe reducing footfall or profit margins? These can be many and varied.

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View over the mudflats


Three miles of mudflats along the Severn Estuary foreshore extending to 850 acres have been purchased at auction by Roger Thomas, Consultant at Cooke & Arkwright, on behalf of a private client for £61,000. The lot comprised two parcels of land between Petersone Wentlooge and the Rhymney River estuary, and attracted keen interest from a number of bidders who were active at the auction or by phone.  Unusually this section of foreshore was not owned by The Crown Estate, for whom Cooke & Arkwright act as Managing Agents on its Marine Estate Interests in Wales, so the land is a rare asset. 

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Office image

cardiff office market off to a strong start

Cardiff office market saw a strong start to 2016 with total floor space leased in the first quarter up 28% year on year. Grade B accommodation provided the majority of floor space taken with just over 69,500 sq ft let, well over half of which was in the city centre, while Grade A accounted for more than 24,000 sq ft. Tim Lawley, Associate with Cooke & Arkwright’s Business Space team comments, “2015 finished on a high note and the first quarter of this year has also been busy. City centre refurbished stock has been performing well, and we have seen a return of out of town demand.

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Severnside House

Very active spring for investment team

Cooke & Arkwright’s investment team is being kept busy with the volume of office and retail property it has disposed of or is marketing for sale at its highest volume for 12 months. Nick Lawley, Investment Director comments, “The team is always very active in the South Wales market, and spring 2016 is no exception with a growing number of vendors approaching us to help them maximise their assets through a sale. As investors continue to look beyond London to the regions, the increasing opportunities to acquire high yielding properties presents opportunities for vendors. They come to us because they appreciate our knowledge of the occupational market, our access to a pool of Welsh investors, excellent connections via our London office, and our long experience in the disposal and acquisition of investment properties.

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Fourteen thousand square feet of new office units recently developed at Brunel Park in Port Talbot by Deryn Properties are attracting good attention from potential occupiers including tech firms. With 4,500 sq. ft. already  sold, and negotiations under way on the letting of a further 6,000 sq ft, Brunel  Park is establishing itself as one of the region’s premier business parks. The park comprises part of Port Talbot Waterfront Enterprise Zone, which encompasses Port Talbot Harbourside and Baglan Industrial Estate, and was recently extended to cover the threatened steelworks in the town.

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land agency surveyor named henley business school graduate of the month

Rhian Howells, Surveyor with our Land Agency, is Henley Business School's Alumni 'Graduate of the Month' for May 2016. She studied Real Estate & Planning at the Reading University business school and the feature is part of the university's regular coverage on the exploits of alumni to demonstrate what can be done with a degree in RE&P. A story of encouragement for anyone who may be considering a change of direction - Rhian's first career was in Law!

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Cooke & Arkwright is a trading name of Cooke & Arkwright Ltd. Registered in England and Wales No 2618062. Coark offer Retail, Office, Industrial, and Rural properties. Registered Office: One Central Park, Western Avenue, Bridgend, CF31 3TZ. Cooke & Arkwright is regulated by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors.
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