Airport Industrial Estate sale secures future investment for Norwich
In a deal worth £35.7 million, Dove Real Estate, a joint venture between Paloma Capital and Partners Group, have bought the Norwich Airport Industrial Estate.
The site, just to the south of Norwich International Airport, had been jointly owned by Norfolk County Council and Norwich City Council since 1967.
Both councils agreed to sell the 48-acre site on the open market last year. A large number of bidders came forward, with the winning bid due to deliver a cash boost for taxpayers and secure future investment in the site.
Cllr Greg Peck, Cabinet Member for Commercial Services and Asset Management at Norfolk County Council, said:
“This is a good deal for Norfolk. The sale will secure investment in this important site as the new buyers are in a position to take forward plans that will strengthen economic growth, job opportunities and deliver a sustainable future for existing and new businesses.”
Councillor Alan Waters, Leader of Norwich City Council, said:
“The airport industrial estate is an important asset in Norwich and we’re extremely pleased that the sale to a successful developer will secure its future and attract new inward investment to the city.
“The income from the sale has generated a substantial capital receipt to the council which will assist in delivery of the medium-term financial strategy.”
Reports commissioned jointly by both councils, prior to the decision being made to offer the site on the open market, indicated a clear opportunity to grow business activity, jobs and income from the site. They also concluded that this would require significant capital investment and external commercial expertise.
Jake Harris, Investment Director at Paloma Capital, said: ‘We are delighted to have completed our purchase of Norwich Airport Industrial Estate. We plan to invest immediately in improvements to the physical environment, but our most important short-term objective is to make contact with our new tenants and work with them to unlock the potential of their units and the wider estate. We welcome any approaches and ideas that our tenants have for improvements to existing buildings and underutilised land. This estate is major regional commercial hub and we feel there is significant scope for economic development and intensification of use.”
The industrial estate is made up of light industrial warehousing and office space. The land was previously occupied by the former RAF Horsham St Faiths military airfield with some of airport hangers converted for modern business needs.
An amendment to the lease for the Norwich City Service Ltd depot will protect its future for Norwich City Council services.
The decision to sell the industrial estate was taken by at Norfolk County Council’s cabinet meeting on Monday 5 July 2021 and at Norwich City Council’s cabinet on 7 July 2021.
Reports prepared for councillors at the time showed the jointly-owned site provided a net income of around £800k per year, with 60 per cent going to the county council and 40 per cent to the city council. Analysis considered by councillors highlighted that without further investment the cost of maintaining the estate would begin to eat into the income generated. A valuation made ahead of the decision to sell indicated a sale would secure a significant cash boost to both councils while providing the buyer with an attractive long-term investment opportunity.