9 July 2021
Oxford Properties & Logistics Capital Partners form JV to acquire and develop the UK’s largest logistics site from Four Ashes LTD.
Grosvenor’s Indirect Investment business was the primary funder and a shareholder in the Four Ashes Limited partnership
Oxford Properties Group (“Oxford”), a leading global real estate investor, asset manager and business builder, and Logistics Capital Partners (“LCP”), a best-in-class developer and asset manager of logistics real estate across Europe, have formed a new co investment joint venture, to acquire a 734-acre site near Birmingham, which they will develop into a major new logistics hub with associated rail freight terminal known as West Midlands Interchange.
Oxford and LCP will jointly invest c. £1 billion to bring forward the project over several years, with Oxford providing the majority of capital, working alongside LCP’s highly experienced and professional team as the development manager. West Midlands Interchange will be a technologically advanced and environmentally sustainable development which meets modern occupiers’ efficient operational and environmental requirements.
Planning consent was secured in May 2020 by Four Ashes Ltd., a consortium led by Kilbride Holdings in partnership with Grosvenor Group’s Indirect Investment business and the majority landowner. The Development Consent Order allows for the delivery of around 8 million square feet of prime logistics space and provides flexibility around the project timeline and scale of units. Infrastructure works are expected to commence in the first half of next year with the first buildings starting on site in 2022 ready for occupation in 2023.
The site can accommodate new warehouses ranging in size from 200,000 square feet to over 1 million square feet, with building heights up to 30 metres. This scale and flexibility will create space for some of the most efficient operations in the country, maximising cubic storage capacity and the possibility for occupiers to deploy the latest technology.
West Midlands Interchange is centrally located in the UK, northwest of Birmingham in the key West Midlands logistics corridor and will deliver significant economic benefit to the region through the creation of 8,500 jobs and a further 8,100 indirect jobs. It is also expected to generate around £430 million of local economic activity each year, and, through the supply chain, create over £900 million of economic activity each year nationally.
It benefits from excellent transport connectivity to the UK’s major cities, ports and airports, with immediate access to the M6 motorway allowing 88% of the population to be reached within a four-hour drive, well inside the HGV single trip limit. As part of wider infrastructure improvements, Oxford and LCP will build a new link road to connect the A5 and A449, enhancing the resilience of the local road network to improve access to the site and achieve additional public benefit.
In addition, the project will create a new Strategic Rail Freight Interchange, which will provide intermodal access for occupiers. This gives the site a significant competitive advantage, with rail transport a cheaper and more environmentally sustainable option while also reducing congestion on the roads. The West Coast Main Line is already one of the most important freight routes in the UK, used by 90% of all intermodal trains.
Sustainability sits at the heart of the site’s masterplan, which includes the creation and maintenance of two new country parks of a combined 109 acres that will provide new managed biodiverse habitats across the development, 36% of which will comprise green infrastructure. Warehouse roofs will be built to accommodate installation of photovoltaic panels, enabling the generation of renewable energy.
In 2020, Oxford announced its intention to deploy £3 billion of capital in the European logistics sector over the next five years in platforms, developments and portfolios of scale. The company made its first direct European investment in 2020, with the acquisition of a 15-acre site in Heathrow alongside LCP.
James Boadle, Head of Logistics and Residential, Europe at Oxford Properties, commented, “In recent years we have significantly increased our exposure to the logistics sector globally through several major transactions, including making our first direct investment into European logistics last year with LCP. Logistics remains one of our highest conviction calls globally, benefitting from substantial undersupply of prime new space while the growth of e-commerce and demand for expedited supply chains continues unabated, accelerated by the effects of Covid-19.”
“The transaction represents a rare opportunity to gain significant exposure at attractive risk-adjusted returns in an increasingly competitive landscape. We are pleased to be again working alongside LCP’s highly experienced and professional team as we deliver a best-in-class logistics park with occupier demand, technological advancements and environmental, social and governance principles at its core.”
Pierre Leocadio, Head of Investment, Europe at Oxford Properties, added, “This transaction presents an exciting opportunity to develop a market leading, prime logistics hub, alongside our trusted partner, LCP. Oxford is renowned for its ability to deliver major large-scale projects, and this aligns with our strategy to deploy capital at scale into the logistics sector. The inclusion of a new rail terminal in the masterplan allows us to create a site that has strong appeal to potential occupiers, while also helping reduce the environmental impact of its supply chain by reducing lorry traffic. The project will also create economic impact to the region through the creation of a significant number of local jobs.”
John Pagdin, Head of UK Logistics Capital Partners, commented, “We have been tracking this particular site for some time and are delighted to have secured the park alongside Oxford Properties. West Midlands Interchange is a fantastic opportunity to build out a uniquely positioned development scheme, allowing us to offer occupiers every possible size, scale, configuration and specification of unit with none of the usual planning delays or uncertainties often associated with schemes of this nature. We look forward to progressing first stage preparatory works and welcoming occupiers to this exciting project.”
Chris Taite, Managing Director, Grosvenor Indirect Investment, added, “Our team at Grosvenor has been working closely with Kilbride and our third-party advisors in bringing forward this incredibly complex opportunity for close to a decade: the successful sale to a best-in-class developer is the culmination of work from a huge number of very talented and dedicated, specialist professionals over a prolonged period of time. The project will deliver significant environmental, social and economic benefit and we are delighted that Oxford properties and LCP have committed to its delivery.”
Peter Frost, Director of Kilbride Holdings, commented “Having successfully guided the development from its inception and earliest stages to development consent, we are pleased that partners Oxford Properties and LCP will bring funding and specialist expertise to enable the project to now fulfil its huge potential as a key Midlands Strategic Rail Freight Interchange and catalyst of local, regional and national economic growth.”
Notes to Editors
Grosvenor Group is a privately-owned international property company.
With a track record of over 340 years, we develop, manage and invest with a purpose of improving property and places to deliver lasting commercial and social benefit.
This is achieved by adopting a farsighted perspective, by being locally engaged and sharing and benefitting from our international experience. We call this our Living Cities approach.
Through the activities of Grosvenor Britain & Ireland, Grosvenor Americas, Grosvenor Asia Pacific and Grosvenor Europe we diversify the Group’s property portfolio by geography, sector, activity, currency and management teams. Our Indirect Investment business further diversifies the Group’s property interests by backing specialist third-party management teams. It invests Grosvenor’s capital in Australia, Europe and North and South America.