Directors of the privately-owned commercial property development company, Premcor Estates, (Premcor) are supporting a newly formed self-storage company with development and site-finding expertise as well as direct investment.

Yard Self Storage (Yard) launched its first self-storage site on the outskirts of Newcastle in February and Premcor directors, Rob Lane and Simon Hawkins, are currently exploring the possibilities offered by several more sites up and down the country.

The pair’s investment in Yard, a standalone company, is complementary to their commercial development portfolio, which is not insignificant for a company which has only just celebrated its fifth anniversary.

Simon, who began his career as a chartered surveyor and commercial agent, explains: “We are currently involved in several large planning applications for various sites under our ownership, which is taking up a great deal of our time, but the opportunity to have some involvement in Yard was too good to miss.

“We have known the managing director of Yard, Nick Bellwood, for many years. He is an experienced operator within the self-storage market, and we are pleased to be investing in his new business venture, which provides self-storage, drive up container storage and commercial storage.

“Storage has always been associated with office or house moves and these types of customers are definitely using the facilities, but we are also seeing a 50:50 split between those who are storing furniture and personal goods and businesses which benefit from having a safe, local storage facility where they can access their supplies on a flexible daily basis. Add in all the other factors such as death, divorce, downsizing and the challenging economic times of today, together, these factors combine to make self-storage a growth market.”

Premcor has a second site under offer in Carlisle, subject to planning, another recently purchased in Newton Aycliffe and others in Co Durham, Sheffield and Rossington. In fact, a further six Yard sites are forecast to be up and running by the end of the year.

Premcor’s Rob Lane sees the opening of the first site at Silverlink Business Park in North Tyneside as a platform for future growth.

He said: “The idea is to get one site up and running, prove the data and the model and if it works, we can draw a line in the sand for investors keen to roll out more.

“In its recent report CBRE noted that self-storage continues to demonstrate its operational resilience and attractiveness as a growth sector, and this looks set to continue in 2024. Because self-storage sites have relatively low overhead costs and do not require significant maintenance, this can result in high profit margins for investors when compared to residential or commercial property.

“Over the years and before launching Premcor, Simon and I have developed a strong network of contacts and potential JV partners, so together with Simon’s knowledge of sites, particularly in the north of England, we are ideally placed to assist in the success of Yard.”

Yard’s managing director, Nick Bellwood, added: “Our first site is going well and it is great to have the Premcor guys in the background providing support – their advice so far has been excellent, particularly their knowledge of the planning process.  I look forward to further developing the business with them in the future.”

It continues to be a busy period for Premcor. In December 2023, Premcor sold its 24-acre Darlington industrial site to Greenbox after gaining consent for three industrial and distribution units which are currently under construction. By February this year, together with its joint venture partner Peveril Securities, Premcor sold its 18-acre Catalyst site in Sheffield to a UK investment fund and also reached practical completion on its major new Nottingham logistics facility, a JV with Barwood Capital, delivering 362,289sq ft of warehouse and distribution space.

Meanwhile planning applications are due to be submitted imminently for a 50-acre industrial and logistics site with some retail in Rossington, Doncaster plus a residential regeneration site in Croydon with the potential for almost 500 residential units including commercial and community uses.