MORE businesses could take advantage of empty industrial units in Hampshire, according to a property expert.

Commercial property consultants Lambert Smith Hampton (LSH) are predicting more ‘speculative development’ in the industrial and warehouse sector with the economy showing signs of recovery.

Jerry Vigus, pictured, industrial and logistics director at LSH’s Southampton branch, said: “It has been over five years since the south coast has seen any substantial speculative development.

“With the lack of stock combined with potential rental growth and the forecasting for investment yields compressing, Lambert Smith Hampton believes that some UK institutions will now be identifying speculative development as an attractive option.

“We have seen over the last 12 months the market showing signs of recovery with many UK institutions looking to invest in the south coast.

“There have been a number of key transactions and confidence is returning to the occupier market.

“Incentives are also being reduced, all of which could point towards a return to speculative development as demand for top quality accommodation begins to outstrip the supply.”

LSH also said there is a shortage of quality detached industrial units larger than 20,000 sq ft in Hampshire, with only two units along the M27 corridor between Southampton and Portsmouth larger than 30,000 sq ft with a self-contained secure yard.

Mr Vigus added: “The shortage in supply is relevant to both the Southampton and Portsmouth markets.

“All eyes over the next 12 months will be on Test Lane, Southampton, as well as Voyager Park and Merlin Park in Portsmouth, along with the 20 acres due to become available on the former Ford Transit van site.”

In 2013 there were a number of high-profile transactions including BIFFA taking a sub lease from DS Smith on a 125,000 sq ft unit in Hounsdown Business Park, while DHL signed a new lease at Stoke Park on an approximately 55,000 sq ft unit.

LSH has also reported that a 50,000 sq ft unit it has been marketing recently is currently under offer with two tenants having to go to best bids to secure a lease.