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Rising requirements for depot-scale sheds for commercial storage or shipping-style containers for smaller scale self-storage sees increasing demand for land on which storage can stand. Harry Baines, Shouler & Son Partner & Head of Commercial, feels landowners in the rural East Midlands are well placed to capitalise. 

There is no official register for self-storage sites but the Self Storage Association UK (SSA UK) “estimates that there are over 1,900 sites in the UK, of which 381 facilities offer predominantly container storage.”

 In looking at the number of facilities, the SSA UK also makes reference to small facilities in rural areas in the context of going below the radar when it comes to estimating the total number of sites.

One thing that the industry organisation does state, unequivocally, on its website is that self-storage has grown during the Covid-19 pandemic.

At Shouler & Son we share that view.

We would also assert that even pre-2020, changes in how industry and businesses operate and how we, as individuals, were working and living our domestic lives saw an acceleration in the need for storage.

The dramatic effect Covid-19 business lockdowns had - and even ongoing lockdowns in China have - on industrial supply chains, lead times and fulfilment of logistical requirements all build to put pressure on storage requirements.

This has affected our ‘just in time’ way of doing business and living our lives.

Military conflict in Ukraine and the rolling effect on exports from warm water ports in Eastern Europe, not to mention the slowdown of agricultural and industrial production in those key world markets, make for log jams now in the flows of trade to which we had become accustomed.

Goods and components getting stuck now mean demand for storage backs up at various points in the supply chain. And space for storage means increasing demand for land on which storage can stand.

Dialling it down from the grand scale of global events, ways in which we live our domestic lives are seeing demand for storage - albeit of the self-storage, container-style or lock-up style large shed or outbuilding with mezzanine, split level storage for use by multiple occupiers.

This is world of storage traditionally inhabited by a range of ‘hobbyist’ type occupiers.

Among them, owners of classic motor vehicles and devotees of hobbies involving any prized collections are no strangers to the advantages of off-site storage either where domestic attic, shed or garage space doesn’t permit. Also caravan owners requiring seasonal storage during the winter.

However, recent leisure, cultural and economic shifts are creating new sets of self-storage seekers.

Most obvious is the pandemic-driven ‘staycation’ holiday phenomenon which has seen an increase in camper van and mobile home ownership. How long lived this phenomenon will be is, of course, a moot point.

Not every owner will have the space on a drive, nor will all housing tenures - even ownership in the case of some covenant clauses - permit storage within the curtilage of domestic properties. Solution? Storage.

Storage is also the answer for many music fans who, having migrated to the cloud or other forms of digital storage, can’t bear to part with or don’t have the space to home-store cherished vinyl, CD or even cassette collections.

As we become more environmentally aware, there is a growing trend towards thrift, upcycling, re-use and re-purposing when it comes to furniture and household goods - particularly those who might be classed as ‘vintage’ or ‘retro’ by Shouler & Son’s own auction house services.

Perhaps led by a mentality influenced by the television programme ‘The Repair Shop’, but very much the practicality of not having space in small rented or first time buyer properties, storage seekers in this bracket have often inherited or acquired large pieces of furniture or collections of crockery, ceramics or other household items.

In treasuring these pieces and projecting forward to a time when they will have the right property in which to give these goods a home, storage is the obvious solution.

Whether it’s depot-scale or a more modest size of storage accommodation, and setting aside the obvious need for secure and weatherproof storage accommodation, the key to success in the storage market is location.

The location has to be well connected to the country’s road infrastructure, ideally one of the country’s main arterial road. Too close a proximity to major centres of population is not a prerequisite, just onward access is enough.

And this is why we believe the rural East Midlands is very well placed to meet growing demand for land for storage requirements.

Rural landowners in this part of the country benefit from a road network that gives access to the A1 and the spine of the country north and south. Onwards south from the A1 reaches the A14 and the East Coast ports and also the M11/M25.

In the other direction, East Midlands’ road connections to the M1 provide access to the West Midlands conurbations and key industrial centres of employment.

While the SSA UK correctly advises that there is no official register for storage sites, there are, however, regulations governing land use for commercially transacted storage accommodation and formal permissions must be sought.

Shouler & Son is currently acting as agent under instruction on self-storage units available to in a rural location at Harlby in the Vale of Belvoir and at Melton Mowbray market. Click on the links for more information.

For more information on commercial self-storage opportunities as a landowner or as an occupier, contact Harry Baines or Ed Danby at the commercial agency of Shouler & Son, tel 01664 560181, h.baines@shoulers.co.uk or e.danby@shoulers.co.uk.