The Magnificent Seven

A recent report from Savills reveals that for a fourth consecutive year, UK regional city office take-up has surpassed the long term average of 9.1m sq ft. Total take-up in 2016 reached an impressive
9.6m sq ft, despite a year of political uncertainty.

The final quarter of regional office take-up in 2017 reached 2.4m sq ft, the strongest quarter since Q2 2015. Roughly the same level of occupational demand was recorded during the first half and second half
of the 2016, with no post referendum slowdown evident.

The most active of the seven major UK cities in 2016 were Bristol and Cardiff, which recorded take-up improvements of 42% and 10% on 2015’s levels respectively, with Cardiff achieving its highest level of take-up in 15 years. A key driver of occupational demand in these cities was the Government Property Unit (GPU) requirements for consolidating public sector bases into regional hubs. Savills expect the GPU to be the key contributor to acquisitions over 100,000 sq ft in 2017 in cities including Birmingham, Manchester, Leeds, Edinburgh and Belfast, during 2017.

The most active business sectors during 2016 were the insurance and financial services sector, accounting for 1.2 million sq ft (15%) of space taken, which marked a record year. Key deals include: Swinton
Insurance taking 165,000 sq ft at 101 Embankment, Manchester, whilst MotoNovo Finance took 72,000 sq ft at One Central Square, Cardiff.
The tech sector remained an important contributor to take-up during 2016 and accounted for 20% of the number of transactions. This sector has traditionally contributed to the smaller end of the market, but also included Co-op Digital acquiring 45,000 sq ft of accommodation in Manchester, while Micro-chip designer, Cirrus Logic’s 70,000 sq ft letting at Quartermile, Edinburgh marked the largest regional tech deal last year. Edinburgh witnessed the highest proportion of tech take-up of all the UK cities.

Metropolis ran 53 medium and large office requirements for Birmingham in 2016, totalling 1.4m sq ft; the totals for other cities were Bristol 66 requirements and 1.6m sq ft; Cardiff 35 requirements and 1.1m sq ft; Edinburgh 65 requirements and 1.5m sq ft; Glasgow 51 requirements and 1.4m sq ft; Leeds 74 requirements and 2m sq ft; Manchester 90 requirements and 2.5m sq ft.
A shortage of Grade A floorspace in city centres,  prompted occupiers to look out of town as total fringe/out of town take-up reaching 2.8 million sq ft, eclipsing the record level set during 2014. Occupiers were also attracted out of town offices due to availability of larger floorplate stock and cheaper rents, particularly in the Manchester and Glasgow markets. Glasgow was boosted by the University of the West of Scotland’s 225,000 sq ft pre-let of the Eco Campus.

Overall, 44% of the 3.6m sq ft of regional office space currently under construction across the UK regions has been pre-let. Examples include PwC’s part pre-let of One Chamberlain Square in Birmingham
There are 8 million sq ft of known lease expiries over the next five years, there also remains underlying demand for new space, with the likely strongest performers for 2017 predicted to be Leeds, Cardiff and Bristol. There is a shortage of Grade A space, particularly in Bristol and Manchester. Top regional rents remain low relative to Central London.

The Metropolis view is that demand is holding up well in regional cities with 130 new requirements added to the database for the seven largest cities outside London in Q1 2017.

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Regional Office Market Outlook

In a recent 2016 reporty by Savills, the consultant points to a trend for demand for prime office space in regional cities to increase dramatically during 2016.

Savills say that demand is driven by local businesses, start-ups, and the rise in ‘northshoring’, where London costs are driving relocations to regional markets.

Manchester, Birmingham, Cardiff and Edinburgh saw increases of 39%,105% 41% and 44% respectively, above their ten year average annual office take-up, with Birmingham and Cardiff having record years. Bristol is tipped to see the best lettings growth in 2016.

Metropolis has seen a 20% rise in the number of regional city office requirements between 2014 and 2015.

Deutsche Bank’s move to Birmingham and HSBC pre-let of 210,000 sq ft at Birmingham’s new 2 Arena Central scheme are examples of ‘northshoring’ with companies moving staff away from London to cheaper office space in regional cities. In addition, the number of local pre-lets in regional cities is growing, such as Squire Patton Boggs’ pre-let on 27,500 sq ft at No.1 Spinningfields in Manchester and Cirrus Logic’s 70,000 sq ft pre-let at Quartermile 4 in Edinburgh.

Tenant demand has re-ignited speculative office development in regional cities, with construction up 130% on a year ago.

Savills concludes that UK wide activity points to increasing demand from sectors such as TMT which is estimated to see a c.700,000 of jobs created in the regions over the next 10 years. More office requirements from public sector agencies and Central Government are also expected

Cardiff on the Rise & Merry Christmas

A recent report from property consultant Savills highlighted the upsurge in office demand in Cardiff and forecast that rents would reach £25 per sq ft in 2016.

The report concluded that total take-up at the end of Q3 stood at nearly 300,000 sq ft (27,860 sq m) and with the last two months registering significant prelets, including the 150,000 sq ft letting at Central Square to the BBC and Public Health Wales pre-letting 4,645 sq m (50,000 sq ft) of new offices on four floors at the under construction 2 Cathedral Quarter; the annual take-up total will reach 600,000 sq ft a 10% increase on 2014 and 20% up on the ten year average.

Earlier in the year, Cardiff saw major moves from Baccalaureate Organisation taking 48,500 sq ft and SSE taking 46,851
at Cardiff Gate Business Park.

Savills predict that One Central Square and 2 Capital Quarter buildings, could be fully let by early 2016. Therefore the main schemes in the pipeline are refurbishments including 50,900sq ft at St Patricks House, 35,000 sq ft at 2 Kingsway and 16,953 sq ft at Haywood House North on Dumfries Place,.

Metropolis is tracking over a dozen medium or large companies searching for office space in Cardiff.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all Metropolis blog readers from all the staff at Metropolis.

Cardiff take-up doubles

Savills latest Cardiff office market report, reveals that office lettings in 2014 are up 102% on the same period in 2013 reaching 250,000 sq ft by mid year and surpassing the 300,000 sq ft let in 2013 by the end of Q3 2014.

There are several requirements over 20,000 sq ft including Geldards, PWC and Blake Morgan which, could further boost the take-up figure over the next year. The recently announced 150,000 sq ft BBC deal could mean that 2014 transactions could reach 500,000 sq ft, which is 69% up on last year’s figures.

Recent large office transactions over 2,323 sq m (25,000 sq ft) include International Baccalaureate Organisation taking 4,506 sq m (48,500 sq ft) at Cardiff Gate and Welsh Health Estate Shared Services taking 3,670 sq m (39,500 sq ft) at Companies House. This trend is set to continue with a number of larger recent deals in Q3 reported on Metropolis including Velindre NHS Trust for 3,362 sq m (36,200 sq ft), Finance Wales for 2,044 sq m (22,000 sq ft) and Cunningham Lindsey for 20,000 sq ft (1,858 sq m).

On the supply side, the City of Cardiff Council and Rightacres Property have revealed details of their proposed Foster + Partners-designed masterplan for the regeneration of Central Square in Cardiff. The plan includes more than 1m sq ft of office, retail and residential buildings around a new civic square. The new BBC Wales HQ will anchor the scheme which has also been designed by Foster + Partners and is scheduled for completion in 2017. There will be also be a further 46,500 sq m (500,000 sq ft) of speculative office space.

Metropolis is about to publish its Q3 2014 regional office market report for current and forthcoming subscribers.

Cardiff searches crowding in

An October 2013 Cardiff office market report by property consultant GVA concludes that there is a shortage of readily available grade A office stock in the city, following the completion of Admiral’s new 200,000 sq ft HQ. The ‘Tipping Point’ report lists six medium to large requirements in the city, from the likes of AA, Geldards, L&G, Cunningham Lindsay and HSBC which total nearly 180,000 sq ft.

An analysis by Metropolis points to an even greater level of demand for office space in Cardiff. We are currently monitoring over 20 medium/large locally-based firms, either in Cardiff or looking at the city, which either have confirmed searches underway or are approaching lease decisions in 2014.

The main office schemes in the pipeline are the 75,000 sq ft Capital Quarter; 2 Callaghan Square where there is consent for up to 500,000 sq ft and Capital Quarter where developer Rightacres is contemplating a start on a 140,000 sq ft scheme.  Further details at our Cityoffices.net site.

None of these schemes are currently under construction, so many of the requirements will have to wait or settle for refurbishing B grade space in Cardiff. Some interesting plot twists await.