Thames Valley gives mixed signals

A new report from Lambert Smith Hampton (LSH) on the Thames Valley office market reveals a mixture of trends.  LSH report 126 enquiries (over 5,000 sq ft) in Q1 2017, an increase of 31% compared with the 96 received in the previous quarter, however these are mainly made up of smaller enquiries and LSH say that requirements for units of over 30,000 sq ft are running well below the long term average.

Take-up in Q1 2017 was 425,352 sq ft, a fall of 3 % from the 439,331 sq ft transacted in the previous quarter and 18.6% below Q1 2016’s total of 522,770 sq ft. The total is below the five-year average take-up of 482,169 sq ft and given the drop in large enquiries, take-up may suffer in upcoming quarters. Large deals included: MediaWorks, White City – 70,000 sq ft acquired by Net-a-Porter and Tor, Maidenhead – 40,000 sq ft letting to Rank Group.  Moves underway include Body Shop, Maersk, Macquarie Bank and EDF Energy.

The active sectors in Q1 2017 were professional (31%), technology, media and communications (25%) and pharmaceuticals (14%).  LSH say that 74% of all office take up in Q1 2017 was centred on just five of the 14 centres – Blackwater Valley, Bracknell, Maidenhead, Oxford and Reading. Reading continues to attract some big names and it’s key Business Parks are home to some of the world’s largest high-tech firms including Microsoft, Oracle, Cisco, Symantec, Logica CMG, Huawei, Veritas and more recently, major corporates such as Bayer and Thales.
Metropolis has published 260 stories about the relocation plans of 260 Thames Valley and South East companies in the last three months; including 75 companies searching for office space. In addition, it has reported on the plans of a further 60 companies that are approaching lease decisions.
The outlook for the Thames Valley seems to be for a slightly muted summer 2017, but with the recent rating revaluation and the nearing of the completion of the Elizabeth line, the near-term will see more occupiers relocating further out of Central London along the Thames Valley from early 2018.
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