Ben Oughton

Five minutes with…

Ben Oughton

Development Director


With the UK’s shortage of warehousing showing no signs of abatement, what can be done to overcome this challenge?

 It is vital that there is a recognition from the government of the important part that logistics plays in the economy of the UK, contributing £127 billion gross value added through more than 200,00 enterprises.

So it is a welcome step that this has been outlined in the recently published Future of Freight Plan, a strategy for the government and industry to work closely together to deliver “a world-class, seamless flow of freight across the UK’s roads, railways, seas, skies and canals”.

A section of the strategy focuses on town planning and acknowledges that the demand for space is higher than the supply of available land and floor space. And states that the planning system “will be key to enabling the growth and innovation of the freight sector to better meet current and future challenges”.

The government has called for evidence from the industry of what is needed to ensure a dynamic logistics sector, so now we have to be very clear with the government about what is needed, especially a ready supply of land for logistics development in key locations around the country.

As inflation rises, is the commercial property sector likely to be affected?

 It is already affected by inflation. On all of our projects, we are finding that materials costs such as steel and cladding have risen significantly and are continuing to do so. Over the last 2-3 years, build cost has roughly doubled.

How much business do you do in the East Anglia region?

Suffolk, Essex and Cambridgeshire are where we do the majority of our projects. At SuffolkPark in Bury St Edmunds, we started on site in 2017 and have developed over 1.4m sq. ft. It has been a resounding success with occupiers including Hermes Parcelnet, Weerts Group, MH Star UK, Unipart Logistics, Treatt, Sealy, The East of England Ambulance Trust and Skechers.

And at Stowmarket, Jaynic was appointed by Mid-Suffolk Council as its development partner on Gateway 14 at Junction 50 of the A14. Construction of the infrastructure for this 2.3m sq. ft scheme is underway, and in recent weeks, we have signed up our first occupier, The Range, for whom we are developing a 1.2m sq. ft warehouse. The site benefits from its Freeport status and is in a key commercial location with exceptional transport connections via the A14 corridor, linking it to Felixstowe, the UK’s largest container port, and to the Midlands and London via the M11, M25 and M1.

We have options on further employment land in Suffolk and Cambridgeshire, including major sites on the A11 and the A14, for which we are in discussions with the local planning authorities to seek allocation in local development plans.

What is it about property development that gets your heart beating?

Development is a long-term game. From initial discussions with an occupier, going through the legal process, detailed building design, planning approval, tendering, and the build itself can take 18-24 months. There are a significant number of parties involved, and it’s all about relationships, attention to detail, transparency and the legacy of the shiny new building at the end.

With your many years of experience in the sector, what advice can you give anyone looking to upscale their commercial property portfolio?

Really get to know your patch well – know who the landowners are, keep close to the district planning authorities and understand what makes them tick, and above of all, in negotiation, listen to what the other side has to say and be prepared to compromise – it is better to win the war than the battle.

Tell us a guilty pleasure?

A good celebration on the back of a new deal!