London Office Market August 2019

Central London office lettings in August 2019 reached 925,000 sq ft, from 35 mid-large size office transactions (5,000 sq ft+) during the month. The August 2019 deals volume figure is just below the current monthly London average of 1m sq ft.

August was characterised by 12 office deals over 20,000 sq ft, which were led by Convene’s 99,300 sq ft now confirmed pre-let at 22 Bishopsgate, EC3; Nationwide’s 88,000 sq ft deal at The Post Building, WC1 and Spaces’s 78,000 sq ft pre-refurbishment deal at 68 King William Street, EC4

Financial services topped the table of lettings by sector, compiled by Metropolis, underpinned by lettings to Nationwide, Bank of Montreal and Intermediate Capital. This was followed by professional services led by deals to law firms Cooley, Kingsley Napley and Kirkland & Ellis. The business services sector was also prominent with more deals to Spaces and WeWork.

Office deals ‘under offer’ in central London fell slightly to 3.5m sq ft, but pending deal volumes are healthy in nearly all sub-markets, with a number of impending deals in solicitor’s hands.

By area, the City accounted for 71% of the office floorspace let in August 2019 at 653,000 sq ft. The West End saw 75,000 sq ft of take-up. Midtown contributed 151,000 sq ft of lettings and Southbank 30,000 sq ft. Current London office demand is calculated to be around 3.8m sq ft in the City and 3.3m sq ft in the West End.

The volume of grade A (newly built or refurbished office space) let during the month, reached 613,000 sq ft sq ft (66% of the monthly total), as transactions for new space maintained the recent strong showing. Availability is dominated by secondhand space in all London markets.

The large number of upcoming lease events in the core has been a key driver to mover activity. Metropolis research is currently monitoring 620 ‘live’ London office requirements, including a large volume of requirements from the banking and finance sectors, with pending deals for space of up to 1.5m sq ft due to sign in the next few months.

Boost for Newcastle Office Market

Recent research from Lambert Smith Hampton reveals a spike in activity in the Newcastle office market.

While Newcastle city centre saw 21 lettings completed within the three months to June totalling 46,010 sq ft. In contrast, it was a record breaking quarter for the out-of-town market, with 322,827 sq ft of office space let, across 32 transactions.

Recent lettings bring the total space let or sold across the city centre and out-of-town markets combined during the first half of 2019 to an exceptional 583,924 sq ft.

The largest confirmed office movers, recently announced, include software giant Sage’s letting of two buildings at Cobalt Business Park totalling 203,728 sq ft, marking it the largest out-of-town office letting in the North East region. In addition, Repairify UK took 15,600 sq ft at Traynor House in Newcastle and Eldon Consulting took 6,000 sq ft at Pandon Bankside, NE1. Elsewhere a 10,000 sq ft deal was agreed by a
confidential occupier at Berrymoor Court, Cramlington and there was a handful of circa 5,000 sq ft deals.

Metropolis is monitoring a number of occupiers interested in moves in Newcastle, including Performance Horizon and Barclays Bank. Starling Bank, the digital lender, has a requirement for around 930 sq m (10,000 sq ft) of regional offices and Newcastle is one of three locations on the shortlist. Metropolis is talking to 100 office occupiers in Newcastle and Gateshead approaching lease expiries in the next two years.

Newcastle has seen substantial growth in the tech sector over the last five years, with digital tech start-ups increasing by 154% from 2011 to 2016. The long-awaited JEREMIE2 funding now live and new access to finance should also stimulate the city’s tech sector. The £120 million fund could support 600 businesses over future years.

The 106,000 sq ft Lumen building at the Newcastle Helix regeneration scheme in the city centre is expected to complete at the end of this year, with the next phase of the scheme, 107,000 sq ft Spark, due to commence soon. At the Stephenson Quarter, Newcastle Council are looking to appoint a development partner to complete the next mixed-use phase, to include offices.

London Docklands Review

Recent research by Cushman & Wakefield on London Docklands office markets revealed that in the second quarter of 2019 826,000 sq ft of office moves were agreed. This is the highest quarterly leasing volume for the area since Q2 2015. The total of 949,000 sq ft for the first half of 2019 is 46% above the five-year first half of the year average of 648,000 sq ft and significantly ahead of the same period in 2018.

The biggest transactions included the 358,000 sq ft pre-let by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) at 5 Bank Street, which was the largest transaction in Q2. In addition, WeWork’s acquisition of 287,000 sq ft at 30 Churchill Place on a sublease from the European Medicines Agency, also made a large contribution. Consequently, Q2 take-up was dominated by the banking & finance and flexible workspace sectors, which accounted for 40% and 38% of quarterly take-up respectively. The public & government sector (18%) continued to feature, especially in nearby Stratford. There were also moves in Docklands for PKF Littlejohn, London, Borough of Tower Hamlets and Revolut.

Space under offer fell during the quarter, due to the leases signed by EBRD and WeWork. Overall office requirements in Docklands fell to 3.9m sq ft. This total is still 25% above the long term average of 3.1m sq ft, although this total also reflects companies that are also looking at other areas such as the City of London and West End. Business services and banking are the most active sectors in terms of office demand. Metropolis is monitoring office demand from tenants such as Clifford Chance, Citigroup and China Telecom.

Metropolis is monitoring the plans of over 130 office tenants that have lease expiries approaching in the London Docklands area over the next two years.

There is currently 2.9 million sq ft of space under construction in Docklands, of which 1.4 million sq ft (47%) is pre-let or under offer. The total volume of speculative space under construction increased for the second consecutive quarter to 1.5 million sq ft, up from the 1.2 million sq ft at the end of Q1. This was driven by two new starts at the Wood Wharf development: The Market Building (213,000 sq ft) and Frameworks Building, (250,000 sq ft), both due to complete in late 2022.

Birmingham Review

Recent research from Colliers International saw office move activity in Q2 2019 in central Birmingham rise a substantial 65% on Q1 leasing levels, albeit driven by three large serviced office deals. The total number of agreed deals hit 320,595 sq ft in 30 deals according to the property consultant.

The quarter represents one of the strongest Q2 leasing levels in Birmingham since Q2 2015. The first half of 2019 overall saw 514,000 sq ft leased in 55 deals including Irwin Mitchell taking 46,750 sq ft at the Colmore Building and The Commonwealth Games who took 72,261 sq ft of Grade A space at One Brindleyplace. In Q2, the serviced office sector was responsible for 72% of total take-up. All three of the largest deals this quarter were attributed to WeWork, which leased a total of 229,042 sq ft in three separate deals: 92,670 sq ft over seven floors at 6 Brindleyplace, together with Louisa Ryland House (81,280 sq ft) and 55,092 sq ft at 55 Colmore Row simultaneously setting a new headline rent for Birmingham at £34 per sq ft. The 6 Brindleyplace deal was the largest in the city centre this year.

Without WeWork, the 2nd quarter would have seen take-up levels at their lowest (91,553 sq ft) since Q2 2012. Business services were the second-most active sector in Q2, accounting for 9% of total take-up.
The largest deal was for 8,097 sq ftat 52 Charlotte Street, let to Newhall Charlotte.

Total Grade A take-up totalled 262,587 sq ft, which was heavily skewed by the WeWork deals. Grade A take-up increased by 70% from Q1. Four out of 19 Grade A deals transacted this half was for space greater than 50,000 sq ft. The average Grade A deal size in H1 2019 was 21,935 sq ft.

Metropolis is talking to nearly 60 Birmingham occupiers of 5,000 sq ft or more approaching lease expiries in the next two years.

Agents say that the mover size bracket of 5,000-15,000 sq ft is unlikely to be affected by WeWork or the other serviced office providers, so agents expect to see continued healthy levels of take-up of this size. The 2,000-5,000 sq ft bracket will be watched with particular interest.

London West End Review

Recent research by Cushman & Wakefield on the London West End office market reveals:

West End office lettings in the Q2 of 2019 reached nearly 800,000 sq ft which was 7% above the average for second quarter take-up in the last five years. Across the first half of 2019 this brought total transactions to 1.83m sq ft which was 10% ahead of the five year average and 4.3% up on 2018.

Pre-lets played an important role in total take-up with 24% of space pre-let in the West End including large deals to G-Research, UK Parliament and Li & Fung

The volume of office space under offer in the West End increased to 1.2m sq ft. This was 54% ahead of the five year average and should fuel more deals in the second half of the year. Indeed we have already seen another big West End pre-let, with the 105,000 sq ft pre-leased to Diageo at Great Marlborough Street, London, W1. Further deals have been concluded to the serviced office sector.

Metropolis is monitoring a large number of large West End requirements by occupiers such as: Apollo Management, Technicolour and Ralph Lauren. West End requirements at 4.7m sq ft are well above their  long-term average.

New, Grade A space lettings accounted for 65% of lettings according to C&W. In addition, nearly 50 of the 180 recorded office moves or expansions were over 5,000 sq ft in Q2. Some 20% of the relocations were by office tenants in the financial sector, followed by 19% in the technology and media sector.

Supply of offices is tight in the West End with a vacancy rate of 4% and only one building able to accommodate movers of greater than 100,000 sq ft. There are currently only 28 buildings which are set to be delivered over the next five years, which will have floorplates 15,000 sq ft and over. The majority of available space is in the fringe, Hammersmith and White City. Some 72% of space in the West End currently under construction was pre-let.

 

Central London office lettings in July 2019

Central London office lettings in July 2019 reached 1.1 million sq ft, from 40 mid-large size office transactions (5,000 sq ft+) during the month. The July 2019 deals volume figure is in line with the current monthly London average of 1m sq ft.

July was characterised by 15 office deals over 20,000 sq ft, which were led by BT’s 328,000 sq ft pre-let at One Braham, E1; Diageo’s 106,000 sq ft pre-let at 16 Great Marlborough Street and WeWork’s 88,000 sq ft at Queen Victoria Street.

Telecom topped the table of lettings by sector, compiled by Metropolis, underpinned by the BT pre-let. This was followed by business services led by WeWork, Office Group and Knotel. The food and drink sector was also prominent with the Diageo West End prelet.

Office deals ‘under offer’ in central London rose to 4.1m sq ft, and pending deal volumes are healthy in nearly all sub-markets, with a number of deals in solicitor’s hands.

By area, the City accounted for 60% of the office floorspace let in July 2019 at 615,000 sq ft. The West End saw 319,000 sq ft of take-up. Docklands 76,000 sq ft, Midtown contributed 90,000 sq ft of lettings and Southbank 66,000 sq ft. Current London office demand is calculated to be around 3.9m sq ft in the City and 3.2m sq ft in the West End.

The volume of grade A (newly built or refurbished office space) let during the month, reached 550,000 sq ft sq ft (33% of the monthly total), as transactions for new space maintained the recent strong showing. Availability is dominated by secondhand space in all London markets.

The large number of upcoming lease events in the core has been a key driver to mover activity .Metropolis research is currently monitoring 625 ‘live’ London office requirements, including a large volume of requirements from the banking and finance sectors, with pending deals for space of up to 1.5m sq ft due to sign in the next few months.

Manchester Update

Recent research by Avison Young and MOAF reveals that Manchester city centre office activity reached 491,300 sq ft during Q2. The figure was 64% above the quarterly average and brings the year to date total to over 800,000 sq ft. Metropolis ran 40 business leads featuring companies relocating in the Manchester market in Q2 2019.

The largest move of the quarter involved Spaces agreeing the largest flexible workspace deal in the UK outside London, taking 122,000 sq ft at 125 Deansgate.  It also understood that BT is close to taking a significant amount of space. Other large moves recently researched by Metropolis included relocations by Hewlett Packard, ME Group, Jones Lang Lasalle and BASF.

There is considerable activity from the flexible workspace sector as WeWork has signed for its fourth location in Manchester, 51,000 sq ft at Hyphen and there are more than half a dozen co-working operators
looking for substantial amounts of space. Business services tends to dominate take-up in Manchester, accounting for a third of take-up.

Advertising and public relations company WPP have committed to 82,000 sq ft which will be constructed at Enterprise City, St John’s. Barclays expanded by 33,000 sq ft at Piccadilly Place. The largest deal in the out-of-town market was to telecommunications company Verastar, which has agreed a 61,000 sq ft deal at One Dovecoat in Sale. Marks & Spencer took 12,000 sq ft at the Alexandra, The Home Office taking 20,490 sq ft at the Soapworks and Capgemini taking 11,360 sq ft at Venus.

Looking ahead, Metropolis is monitoring almost 40 medium/large firms looking for space in Manchester, together with a further 70 tenants approaching lease expiries over the next two years.

There is 1.6 million sq ft of space under construction in Manchester, of which 38% is pre-let. Of the million sq ft of speculative space under construction, key developments include Landmark Oxford Road, 100 Embankment and Circle Square. Grade A remains in good stock with new developments such as 125 Deansgate and Landmark at St Peter’s Square due to complete in 2019. Between them they will bring 305,000 sq ft to the market, 133,000 sq ft of this currently under offer to new tenants.

Sheffield Update

According to the latest market statistics released by Commercial Property Partners, 57% of office take up in Sheffield in Q2 2019 was ‘out of town’.

The figures released by the commercial property agency showed that 39,304 sq. ft of the total 68,745 sq. ft take up was outside of the city centre. The total for H1 2019 increased to 266,196 sq ft, 34% more when compared to the same period last year.

CPP also reported a particular increase in demand for Grade B facilities, which accounted for 48,280 sq. ft of the total take up, at 70%.

A total of 15 deals occurred over the three-month period, the most significant of which was the take up of 20,000 sq. ft by education publishing house Twinkl at Hallamshire Business Park.

The figures also revealed continued activity within the professional and business services sector, with companies such as Etico Group securing 7,803 sq. ft at St James House, and Gleeson securing 5,510 sq. ft at Europa Court.

Meanwhile, the city region’s growing number of creative industry businesses accounted for 9,735 sq. ft of space, with Egress Software agreeing a five-year lease for a 7,500 sq. ft Grade A suite, following a recent announcement to grow its workforce from 90 to at least 120 people in 2019, and becoming partners of Sheffield Digital.

The development pipeline remains limited. Despite 27,000 sq ft of speculative space being delivered in Q2, Grade A availability remained limited with 85,000 sq ft being marketed in Q2. Works due to complete on just 81,000 sq ft of office space split between Steel City House and the NUM Building.

Sheffield City Council has signed up developer Scarborough International Properties to lead the expansion of the Sheffield Olympic Legacy Park. Over a dozen new buildings planned for Sheffield Olympic Legacy Park. The developer will spearhead the major regeneration project in the lower Don Valley area, initially aiming to build 750,000 sq ft of business space for the sport, health and well-being sector.

Scarborough plans for its first project as preferred development partner a building of around 40,000 sq ft of office space, close to Sheffield Hallam University’s ‘Advanced Wellbeing Research Centre. Scarborough expects to commence work on its building early in the New Year.

Central London Office Market June 2019

Central London office lettings in June 2019 reached 1.05 million sq ft, from 64 mid-large size office transactions (5,000 sq ft+) during the month. The June 2019 deals volume figure is in line with the current monthly London average of 1m sq ft.

June was characterised by 15 office deals over 20,000 sq ft, which were led by Parliamentary Estate’s 97,000 sq ft deal at 64 Victoria Street, SW1; Smith & Williamson taking 87,000 sq ft at  40 Gresham Street, EC2; Squire Patton Boggs taking 61,000 sq ft at Devonshire Place, EC2 and WeWork taking 47,000 sq ft at Hounsditch, EC3.

Professional Services topped the table of lettings by sector, compiled by Metropolis, underpinned by the Smith & Williamson and Squire, Patton Boggs pre-lets. This was followed by financial services led by Liberty and Business Research. The Business Services sector was also prominent with deals to WeWork, Spaces and Knotel

Office deals ‘under offer’ in central London rose to 4m sq ft, and pending deal volumes are healthy in nearly all sub-markets, with a number of deals in solicitor’s hands.

By area, the City accounted for 40% of the office floorspace let in May 2019 at 406,000 sq ft. The West End saw 356,000 sq ft of take-up. Docklands 66,000 sq ft, Midtown contributed 134,000 sq ft of lettings and Southbank 93,000 sq ft. Current London office demand is calculated to be around 3.8m sq ft in the City and 3.1m sq ft in the West End.

The volume of grade A (newly built or refurbished office space) let during the month, reached 349,000 sq ft sq ft (33% of the monthly total), as transactions for new space maintained the recent strong showing. Availability is dominated by secondhand space in all London markets.

Across Q2 2019, there were deals covering 3.3m sq ft of office space, slightly down on 2018, led by the EBRD pre-let at 5 Bank Street in Docklands, followed by Brewin Dolphin in the City and G-Research in the West End. Some 40% of space let in Q2 was in pre-lets. Financial and business services were the two most active sectors.

Metropolis research is currently monitoring 620 ‘live’ London office requirements, including a large volume of requirements from the banking and finance sectors, with pending deals for space of up to 1.5m sq ft due to sign in the next few months.

Leeds Offices Step Up

Recent research by Avison Young showed a strong start to 2019 in Leeds city centre with 222,000 sq ft take-up in 39 deals, 56% above the 10 year average. TMT occupiers accounted for the lion’s share of activity, and with Channel 4’s announcement that it intends to acquire 25,000 sq ft at Rushbond’s Majestic this commitment is likely to act as a further stimulus for the continued growth of this sector in the Leeds region. Banking and finance combined with professional services also accounted for a third of transactions.

Take up was led by the 71,000 sq ft letting at M&G’s Central Square to Link Asset Services, a share registry provider. There were also five transactions above 10,000 sq ft, the largest of which was 20,700 sq ft to WYG plc at 3 Sovereign Square as well as Unite Union (12,800 sq ft) and Opera North (11,000 sq ft). There were two further 5,000 sq ft deals to engineering companies BAM Nuttall and Buro Happold. The Government Hub announced its move in 2017 and will open in the next 12 months. Metropolis has published details of 20 future relocations and 36 companies considering a move in recent months.

Out-of-town mover activity was more subdued but there was also a greater than average level of take-up for deals below 5,000 sq ft across both markets.

Channel 4’s deal to lease three floors of the 66,000 sq ft Majestic, the former cinema located opposite the train station will account for one office scheme. Along with 34 Boar Lane (46,000 sq ft) this is currently undergoing a major refurbishment in the city centre. The speculative 4 Wellington Place (155,000 sq ft) is also under construction in the city centre and due for completion by the end of 2020. The only new development completed recently was the newly refurbished 33 Wellington Street of which 15,000 sq ft is still available.

Metropolis is tracking around 40 companies looking for office space in the Leeds area.