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Bristol should be planning to build Engine Shed 3 and 4, says property expert

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Written by: Gavin Thompson | Posted 03 December 2015 10:38

Bristol should be planning to build Engine Shed 3 and 4, says property expert
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Bristol should be planning for Engine Shed 3 and 4 rather than still trying to build the second one, according to a senior planning expert. 

Jo Davis, regional senior director at GVA Bilfinger, was speaking at second birthday bash for Engine Shed, a business centre next to Temple Meads station which is home to some of the fastest growing technology companies in the region.

Engine Shed is full up and Jo said office space in Bristol was running desperately low, with at most two years’ supply left. 

“We have got to make sure Engine Shed 2 is built in two years,” she said. 

The event also saw the opening of Boxworks, a stop-gap addition to Engine Shed consisting of 20 shipping containers converted into funky office space in the car park. 

Jo said: “Bristol is the only city outside London in England that contributes to the Treasury. Yet with all due respect, we are putting our brightest talent in shipping containers in the car park for two years.” 

She said building more places like Engine Shed meant convincing property investors to innovate too and find new business models.

Property investors tend to be organisations such as pension funds which want steady, long-term returns and therefore like long leases held by big corporate companies, not the flexible terms and churn associated with start-ups and fast-growth companies.

But Jo said Bristol needed to find a way to deliver these kinds of workspaces on an ambitious scale. 

She said: “We want to make sure Engine Sheds 3 and 4 will be coming on line when we need them.” 

Engine Shed director Nick Sturge said: “There’s a real shortage of flexible, attractive space for companies which are growing in this city. We urgently need to invest in that. 

“We have got the highest level of employment in the country, there’s a lot of activity here but it’s being stifled by a lack of space.”

Boxworks has been delivered at impressive speed, taking advantage of the fast-track planning process which is a benefit of being inside the Temple Quarter Enterprise Zone.

Gavin Eddy, managing director of ForwardSpace, the company behind it, said: “Nick Sturge said to me ‘we have run out of space, we have nowhere to go. We have got a sliver of land in the car park with no planning permission and no services and we need something delivered yesterday’. 

“We said, ‘that sounds great, we’d love to do it’.” 

Boxworks has planning permission for two years, by which time the hope is that Engine Shed 2 will be ready. 

But Gavin added: “I’m secretly hoping we might be here a little longer.” 

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