A leading rural estate agency has identified an opportunity for Northumberland’s landowners thanks to increased demand for rural-based logistics.

According to Savills, which until recently had a base in Corbridge, new housing estimates for rural areas, coupled with the rising consumer demand for online retail – even before the coronavirus pandemic – meaning there is a potential shortage of warehouse space to support demand for next-day delivery.

Add in the rise in demand for rural properties seen since May, combined with the rise in online sales due to the pandemic, and Savills say it is clear the volume of rural logistics space has the potential to come under pressure.

Kevin Mofid, head of industrial and logistics research at Savills, said: “A logistics or parcel company will always look to occupy warehousing in traditional locations that has been built with the intended use in mind.

“However, as we have seen in more urban areas, when supply is chronically low and demand is high tenants are prepared to alter their operational requirements.

“In rural areas this could mean the release of land for new industrial development or the repurposing of existing structures on agricultural land, an option that has the greatest potential when located near major roads and highways.”

According to Savills’ research, Northumberland is ninth in the list of local authorities ordered by the largest shortage of warehouse space, with a shortfall of 261,672.

The estate agent is suggesting that rural landowners who have existing agricultural buildings no longer suited to farming could repurpose their buildings.

In addition, those who have land in the right locations could put it forward for development of new warehouse space.

Michael Orde, director and head of rural at Savills in Newcastle, added: “Increasingly, expanding farmers are finding that they have accumulated a portfolio of buildings that are no longer fit for purpose, as modern farm machinery is much larger.

“For example a former grain store could be suitable for conversion within permitted development rights.

“The spectrum of operators’ needs is quite broad, presenting an opportunity for some rural landowners across Northumberland.”