Commercial property availability and price is a controversial subject in and around St Albans. It is an issue that seems to be raised vociferously at every business meeting. Hardly surprising since, in the recent ‘Barriers to Growth’ research commissioned by the members of The City of Expertise, 80% of the businesses in and around St Albans are planning to grow either dramatically or moderately over the next two years.
With growth comes the issue of space and some businesses will simply find themselves outgrowing existing premises, and that presents many challenges.
Property availability and rates came fourth in the ‘Barriers to Growth’ survey in terms of the effect it has on the ability of a business to grow. Skilled staff shortages, political uncertainty, and regulatory issues and red tape were the top three issues.
Over 12% of local businesses are planning to move in the next 24 months. The reasons for moving include the need for more space, the need to save costs and just ‘not having any choice’ (such as reaching the end of their lease or re-devlopment decisions).
And where do they plan to move to? Over 47% want to stay in central St Albans and a further 20% want to stay within the outskirts of St Albans. It appears that regardless of availability and costs St Albans is still the place to be!
Businesses also commented on restricted and expensive parking and poor public transport services. This presents additional issues given that the research shows that nearly 10% of businesses are solving recruiting problems by looking for candidates further afield in terms of geography.
“Office space with parking nearby is crucial to business growth in St Albans”
“I would love to move my business back to St Albans, but rent is a big issue”
Some businesses are changing their approaches to ease their challenges. For example, 27% of respondents said they were offering remote working as a way of attracting more staff and easing the parking issue. So it seems there are options for those businesses that are prepared to consider alternative approaches to these long-established issues.
If your business is looking for solutions to its challenges, please get in touch with one of our members for help and advice. We are called ‘The City of Expertise’ for a very good reason!