BRIGHTON and Hove is becoming an "industrial desert" with the shortage of warehouse space forcing companies to abandon the city.

The shortage of vacant light industrial and warehouse space is reaching crisis point, making it difficult for companies to expand or attract business, property consultants Stiles Harold Williams has warned.

Factors include brownfield development going for residential or other uses, and virtually no new warehouse or light industrial schemes over the last ten years.

The levels of rent for a modern unit of up to 2,500–3,000 sq ft has increased to double figures per square foot, forcing up industrial and warehouse rents across the city.

There are no suitable sites for expansion, particularly in the range of 30,000 sq ft up to 60,000 sq ft.

Potential buildings and sites are available in Burgess Hill, Lewes, Shoreham and Newhaven - but relocating a significant number of companies and workers is not always feasible or beneficial.

A strong demand for freehold units in the city is met with an almost non-existent supply, which has pushed up freehold prices as and when these units become available.

A combination of circumstances has put a brake upon expansion within Brighton and Hove, putting added pressure on tourism, retail and the services sector to create jobs.

David Martin, partner for Stiles Harold Williams said: “The city is fast becoming an industrial desert with limited opportunities on the horizon.

“Stiles Harold Williams are currently undertaking a search for developer clients for two-to-five acre sites within the city with the developers keen to construct new speculative schemes to cater for the under supply of modern units of varying sizes on a freehold or leasehold basis.

“This is an opportune time for land owners and developers to combine in order to protect the industrial future of the city.”