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Strong demand for new warehouse and logistics space for delivering goods which have been ordered online has buoyed up the industrial building sector since the EU referendum. But a series of major recent new project announcements suggests more manufacturers are feeling confident enough on their prospects to expand capacity with new buildings for themselves.

Earlier this month, Siemens pledged to build a new £200 million plant to manufacture and commission trains – its third in the UK - on a 67 acre site at Goole near Hull, providing it wins orders for new rolling stock from High Speed 2 or London Underground.

The German engineering group plans to start a phased development of the site later this year, which will cover 271,000 sq m with up to 12km of track and a buildings footprint of up to 75,000 sq m. The scheme will involve manufacturing and commissioning buildings, warehouses, offices, and stabling sidings and will employ 700 people directly and 250 in the construction phase. Glenigan data shows the scheme is at the pre-tender, pre-planning stage with work set to start in Spring 2019 and run for 12 months.

Separately, Siemens is also planning to open a £27 million 3D-printing plant at Worcester in the West Midlands to make parts for clients such as British Aerospace.

Meanwhile, the technology company Dyson has recently unveiled plans for a dramatic expansion in the UK on a new 517 acre campus at Hullavington in Wiltshire as part of a £2.5bn investment to develop new battery technologies and robotics. The firm plans to at least double its workforce of 3,500 over the next few years. For now, Glenigan data shows Dyson has recently submitted plans for a small extension to a military building on the Hullavington site.

Elsewhere, an application for 750,000 sq ft of commercial space is being submitted in the first half of 2018 at the Harwell Innovation and Science Campus in Oxfordshire. Earlier this month Oxford Nanopore Technologies said it will occupy a new, 34,500 sq ft, high-tech manufacturing facility on the site.

In the automotive industry, Jaguar Land Rover is considering building a new electric car factory although more clarity on Brexit is likely to be needed before the company can confirm whether this will be in the UK. Plans for a new £700 million project to build a new Land Rover Defender which chemicals entrepreneur Jim Ratcliffe is working on could also involve a significant new plant in Britain. And a Warwickshire firm, Lontra is planning to invest £65 million alongside Shield Group Engineering, to build a plant by 2021 to produce a new a form of energy-saving blade compressor.

Manufacturers’ plans to invest in new plant will have been bolstered by strong orders in the opening months of this year, helped by buoyant export markets. UK exports rose by 11.5% to £625.9bn in the year to the end of January, according to ONS figures.

The signs are that healthier order books are translating into more investment and the first quarter EEF/BDO survey of manufacturers showed an overall balance of +18% of companies are planning to increase capital spending in the coming 12 months. Investment intentions were strongest in the transport equipment and electronics sectors and particularly amongst firms in the £10-24 million- turnover bracket.

Glenigan data shows the value of detailed industrial planning consents rose by 7% in 2017 (with approvals for industrial work up 18% in the quarter to December) and a recovery in industrial project starts is expected over the next two years. Glenigan is forecasting new starts in the sector in the first quarter of this year will be up by 27% on the period a year earlier and up by 26% in the second quarter.

The industrial building market should also benefit as manufacturers recognise the need to invest in digitally-enabled smart factories to boost productivity and take advantage of artificial intelligence and the so-called fourth industrial revolution. A recent report from Hennik Research suggested that a quarter of manufacturing firms are introducing Industry 4.0 and 62% were planning to do so.

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