Monday, 13 January 2014

DIRFT Case Study

Next time you go past junction 18 on the M1, take a look out of the window and you'll see DIRFT. Believe me, you can't miss it. So what is it and why am I blogging about it?

Photo courtesy of DIRFT II

DIRFT is the Daventry International Rail Freight Terminal and is regarded as the UK's premier road and rail distribution hub, partly due to its location in the distribution 'golden triangle'. DIRFT is currently undergoing massive expansion (DIRFT II and DIRFT III) to meet the growing demands of container traffic. Much of this increased demand has arisen from the growth in internet shopping which is changing the needs of the retail industry, leading to the creation of more 'dark stores' and increasing the demand for warehouse space, storage and transportation.

This year, our third year students are using the DIRFT development as a case study across the majority of their modules. Here's what the people at DIRFT had to say about it (article taken from Prologis News):

With the rapid growth of e-commerce, the drive to re-configure retail supply chains and the increasing demand to reduce carbon emissions, the logistics sector is entering a new growth phase. These changes are likely to have a far-reaching effect on the industrial property market and Prologis is helping to prepare future professionals to work in this fast evolving area.

Two years ago, the company started working with the Department of Real Estate and Construction at Oxford Brookes University to provide a case study on Prologis RFI DIRFT III for the Commercial and Residential Development module - part of the third year of the Real Estate Management degree syllabus.

This case study proved to be so successful that Prologis is now working with Oxford Brookes to use the entire Daventry International Rail Freight Terminal (DIRFT) development as a case study across the whole third year syllabus.

The University is working with Robin Woodbridge, senior vice president at Prologis – and an Oxford Brookes alumnus – who has overall responsibility for the development of DIRFT. As he said: “DIRFT offers an unusual number of opportunities to learn about different aspects of the property industry. Students will not only be able to use existing properties at DIRFT as examples for valuation, letting or investment modules, but with the development of DIRFT II and the potential offered by DIRFT III, they will also be able to learn about future trends in logistics parks in terms of buildings, infrastructure and sustainability.”

This new cross-syllabus case study was launched at the beginning of the autumn term when the third year students visited DIRFT and Robin Woodbridge talked about the growth of the sector and Prologis’ plans for the development.

“The visit was a great success,” said Rebecca Gee, senior lecturer in Real Estate at Oxford Brookes University. “Robin gave the students a fantastic insight into the logistics market and the site itself and they will be able to build on this throughout their final year.”

And what do our students think?

'Using DIRFT as a case study has been great as it is 'live' and field based and applying the case study across multiple modules has allowed us to see how the different aspects of the property industry inter-connect and has highlighted the importance of commercial awareness'.

'It allowed us to really get to grips with the site, generating a further understanding of the practical work that we will be doing in professional practice; for instance one piece of coursework required us to undertake a Red Book valuation of one of the warehouses. Each coursework benefited the next, as we were able to build upon our knowledge of the site and the logistical/distribution market. It was also beneficial to see how the different areas of the property industry can relate to one another'.

'The final year DIRFT Project adds real value to classroom learning, with an active and integrated approach that puts theory into practice prior to graduating into the profession. The project calls upon all disciplines learnt throughout the course and allows a real clarity of report writing to be developed, skills that are invaluable in the working world'.

I went along on the initial site visit to video the talks and also made some videos of the site. The following photos are extracts from the video (which is why they're not top quality)...

Where there are trucks, there are truck spotters. They even have their own 'truck spotting' area.

Development at DIRFT II

The big white freezer building (owned by Tesco)

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