Bespoke industrial units: Top three tips for building with unique design requirements

Anthony Hynes Director, Head of Project Management
020 7657 1885
Read time: 5 mins
Category: Innovate

For many businesses, relocating to new commercial property means simply stepping into a non-bespoke property. Most companies require little more than an appropriately sized ‘shed’ to cater for their industrial needs. However, some companies need to meet a variety of commercial needs, which may impact the design of a property and therefore require a bespoke approach.

Based on our experiences, here are three top tips to consider when acquiring a new industrial property with specific requirements.

1. The early bird catches the worm

The sooner you connect with a developer the better. Establishing a relationship early on enables you to provide a list of bespoke requirements for the property and secure the most appropriate plot on a development site. Once construction has begun on a speculatively built industrial development, it is often too late to meet specific bespoke design requirements. And if it is not too late, then there are certain to be higher costs and delays involved in adapting the structure or completing a niche fit-out.

National trade distributor, Selco had a long-standing requirement in Hemel Hempstead but required a purpose-built unit. Its requirements included the provision of two customer entry points to either side of the building, van parking as opposed to car parking, separate entry and exit points to the yard and an extensive canopy. Early engagement with Chancerygate meant that all requirements could be met.

2. A wise choice is a wise developer

There is risk associated with any development, things don’t always go to plan and bespoke industrial units, arguably have more potential for the unpredictable. Choosing an experienced developer can help mitigate these, save costs and prevent delays.

Identifying a developer at the earliest possible opportunity will result in both a smoother project and a more successful outcome. There is no reason why a project can’t be completed ahead of schedule and on a budget when a developer and a business work in partnership throughout the process to minimise disruption.

You need a developer who knows what they are doing when managing and building a bespoke unit. The experience, vision and flexibility to accommodate what’s beyond the standard specification and site layouts are paramount.

A developer who can work at speed is essential, but they must also have an attention to detail that will inspire confidence and assure you they can meet your specialist needs – no matter what they are.

Timber products distributor, James Latham, was initially restricted by local planning policy when it wanted to move sites but remain within the local area of Yate. However, close collaboration with its agent and Chancerygate enabled a strong economic case to be made which satisfied the local authority and allowed planning to be granted for a bespoke 65,000 sq ft unit which was considered a special circumstance under the planning regime.

3. Know what you want, when you want

Industrial unit design requirements vary from company to company. The more common bespoke needs relate to how a site is accessed, visibility of a building on a site, security precautions and the level of detail required in the units’ layout. But, whatever the needs to be considered, a developer should be aware as soon as possible within a project.

Bus depots, for example, have unique design needs and requirements. Chancerygate’s development of the new facility for Abellio West London incorporated a £1.3 million fit out for its new bus depot in Southall, London. Specialist storage, yard areas, fuel storage facilities, wash down areas and air extraction units were all included. The cost of ‘retrofitting’ these to an existing unit would have been much more expensive but Abellio’s early engagement and clear understanding of what they required minimised the cost.

Prestige auto retailer Sytner Group, secured a long-term lease for a 36,361 sq ft purpose-built and extremely bespoke facility in Knutsford, Cheshire. They identified Chancerygate’s Novus Business Park as their preferred option before construction had begun. Strategically located near both Manchester and Liverpool, it provided the retailer with a great location.

The redevelopment of the former Grade II listed Klinger Building in Sidcup for self storage operator ‘Titan’ required the art deco façade of building to be preserved. The original building was the work of Wallis, Gilbert and Partners – who had also designed The Hoover Building in Ealing. Several stakeholders including Bromley and Bexley planning departments, Historic England and the local community were all involved to ensure that the building was redeveloped to satisfy Titan’s bespoke needs and to respect the building’s listed status.

Bespoke is best for your industrial unit

More time and thought are required to ensure a bespoke industrial unit meets an occupier’s needs.

Choosing a developer with a strong track record and engaging with them as early as possible should be your number one priority. Depending on how bespoke your unit is, if construction has already begun on a development, then there’s a good chance it will already be too late to get what you want for your business.

Whether it’s obtaining planning permission, creative design solutions, or minimising cost there are many factors that can only be delivered by a developer with the ability to provide tailored development solutions.

Chancerygate’s project management team provides a practical, reliable service which delivers for contractors, funders and occupiers. Our team is highly skilled and excels at building an outstanding product within agreed timescales, whatever the complexity of the project. To find out more about how we can help with your requirements call Tony Hynes on DL: 020 7657 1885 , M: 07768 348 859 or E:

All of the examples mentioned within this article are Chancerygate’s projects and developments. Read more about our work on our case studies here.

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