Increased European retail park development is set to deliver 14m sq ft of new space by the end of the year, according to new research.

Cushman & Wakefield’s development report revealed that total European stock increased by 2.4% to 401.5m sq ft in 2015 from 392m sq ft at the end of the year before.

Activity is expected to continue to surge ahead in 2016 and 2017, with 14m sq ft currently in the pipeline and expected to be completed.

Development activity was highest in France, Belgium and the UK which accounted for more than 60% of all retail park space added in 2015.

The past year was also a record one for investment into the retail sector in Europe, with a growth in investment experienced across all subsectors. Retail warehouses were a major beneficiary of the increased activity in the sector’s investment market, with a total of €9bn invested throughout the year, 39% up on 2014 investment volumes, and the strongest year of investment into retail warehouses since 2006.

Martin Supple, EMEA out of town retail partner at Cushman & Wakefield, said: “The demand for well-located and accessible retail parks is strengthening, and is being met with the addition of upmarket food operators and an improved quality of redevelopment and refurbishment.

“There has also been an increase in new entrants, as many retailers traditionally associated with the high street – such as H&M, Zara and CCC – look to test the water and trial retail parks as part of their portfolios. Improved designs and style and a focus on experience reflected in the presence of leisure and entertainment operators are also having a positive impact on footfall. This is reflected by an increase in development pipeline primed to deliver new units to market to meet appetite.”