Veritech Systems, Southampton

Veritech received several recommendations from partners and contacts, recommending Hellier Langston’s services to them. With these positive recommendations in mind and after an initial discussion with Hellier Langston Director, Jason Webb, Veritech employed Hellier Langston as their agent, to secure suitable tenants and manage the process from start to finish.

Veritech Systems, SouthamptonClient background:

Veritech Systems are an award-winning security company, specialising in corporate and commercial solutions. They are UK-based and in the top 4% of SIA Approved Contractors. Veritech offers protection for businesses via their range of services, which include CCTV camera systems, security guards, access control systems, perimeter protection and a 24/7 control centre.

The requirement:

Veritech purchased their premises on Millbrook Road East in Southampton in 2018 and as it was larger than their requirements, they decided to split the premises and offer the surplus space to let, having refurbished it to a high standard. They advertised their vacant space with several commercial property letting agents but had no luck. 

After months on the lettings market with no interested parties, Veritech received several recommendations from partners and contacts, recommending Hellier Langston’s services to them. With these positive recommendations in mind and after an initial discussion with Hellier Langston Director, Jason Webb, Veritech employed Hellier Langston as their agent, to secure suitable tenants and manage the process from start to finish.

The challenges:

Hellier Langston subsequently reported on the units, immediately identifying two potential issues: Firstly, the premises had an existing planning consent that had a restriction which would only allow the premises to be used by Veritech, or someone having a similar operation to them. This was despite the officer’s report on the current consent saying that the premises were not close to residential and were therefore suitable for Light Industrial (B1(c)) or Research and Development (B1(b)) use.  

The second issue identified was that the entire premises were in a single business rates assessment and Veritech were paying full rates on both the space they occupied, as well as the vacant space. Similarly, any occupier looking at business space wants definitive costs and having the business rates assessment as an unknown does not help with this.

The solution:

Whilst the primary focus of Hellier Langston’s instructions was to find tenants for the vacant space, this could not be achieved without varying the planning consent and would be greatly aided by splitting the current business rates assessment.

A full marketing campaign commenced, including the production of high quality marketing particulars, erecting a marketing board and listing the premises on all the main commercial property portals. Alongside this, steps were also taken to remedy the planning position and split the rating assessment.

The outcome:

After initial discussions with Southampton City Council Planning Department, it was agreed that the solution to the planning issue was the submission of an application for a Non Material Amendment to remove the obstructing condition, thereby opening the potential uses of the premises to those originally suggested by the planning officer on the last application, i.e. Light Industrial or Research and Development.

With regards to the business rates, Veritech appointed Hellier Langston via the portal to act as agents and a ‘Check’ submission was made to split the assessment into two, with one reflecting Veritech’s occupation and the other encompassing the vacant space. This split entitled Veritech to six months of 100% business rates relief on the vacant space, saving them in excess of £8,000, as not only were they entitled to the relief, but the combined total rateable values of the two separate assessments were significantly lower than the previous single assessment. 

With the advent of the new September 2020 Use Classes Order, the open Light Industrial (B1(c)) or Research and Development (B1(b)) consent which had been achieved then became Use Class E, encompassing other previously separate uses.

Hellier Langston secured the first tenant for part of the vacant space - Miss Devon Baynton trading as Pretty Fit. The new Use Class E meant that Miss Baynton was able to use her space as a personal fitness studio. As a sole trader, Miss Baynton would be entitled to 100% small business rates relief on premises with a rateable value of less than £12,000. Having reviewed the assessment for the vacant space, Hellier Langston calculated that the space she was occupying would indeed have a low enough rateable value to gain this relief and therefore a second ‘Check’ submission was made to split the assessment of the formerly vacant space reflecting the new occupation.

Having split the rating assessment for a second time, Hellier Langston relaunched the marketing of the last of the vacant space and secured Radio Tactics Group Ltd as the second occupier. Their operation was an ideal fit for both tenant and landlord, with Radio Tactics valuing the security that Veritech and the premises could provide, whilst Veritech appreciated a tenant that would not cause access problems through the secure shared yard area.

Despite the majority of this process being carried out during the global coronavirus pandemic and national lockdown periods - which presented many challenges for both Hellier Langston and Vertitech - the whole process was achieved successfully in under 12 months. During this testing period, Hellier Langston worked tirelessly to ensure the momentum of the various aspects of the project was not lost, driving each phase forward as soon it was permitted and safe to do so. Safety was considered at each step and all COVID-related requirements were met to ensure staff and client wellbeing at all times.

A few words from the client:

Veritech MD, Paul Oldridge said: “We spent many months advertising unoccupied units at our premises with various commercial property letting agents, but to no avail. Upon several recommendations, we decided to employ the services of Hellier Langston; not only did they manage to find quality tenants within just a few months, they also found the sort of tenants we were looking for.

“Much to our amazement they also entered into successful communications with the local council to remove a restriction which could have prevented us letting our vacant space. They then dealt with the Valuation Office Agency to split the business rates and obtain discounts for the unoccupied parts.

“I have never received service to this level before; the communication between us was always faultless. I was never in a position where I had to ask for an update and it was like they were a department within our business. To top it all off, their one-off fee was very acceptable for both transactions. I would highly recommend Hellier Langston’s services.”

Find out more about the range of services we offer, including commercial agency and business rates. If you have a commercial property you’re looking to let or sell, get in touch! Our expertise and experience will help you secure the best possible outcome. 

We will remain open during the November lockdown period, operating a COVID-19-secure service for landlords, tenants and our staff. Contact us if you’d like to learn more about the procedures we have in place. You can also browse our available properties online and create your own shortlist.

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