Metropolis Law Sector Report 2018

Initial findings from the 2018 Metropolis report on office relocation in the UK Law sector revealed that 360 legal sector firms were involved in office property decisions in the year to end 2018.

The survey also found that over 7m sq ft of office space was transacted or required by occupiers searching for alternative space over the last year by law sector firms.

The report found over 120 firms searching for space that were interviewed by Metropolis researchers. Over a half of requirements were prompted by upcoming lease expiries, backed by expansions, mergers and restructuring.

The biggest law sector office deals in London involved leases signed for HQ relocations by Freshfields, DLA Piper, Sidley Austin and Minster Law.

Outside of London, Clyde & Co had the biggest office transaction, with a deal to occupy 69,000 sq ft in the Royal Exchange, Manchester. Simmons & Simmons signed a 12-year lease to occupy the top two floors (27,000 sq ft) of the Aurora building in Finzels Reach, Bristol, from January. Hogan Lovells will take over the eighth floor (23,388 sq ft) of The Colmore Building in Birmingham’s business district, where it currently occupies 7,620 sq ft on the tenth floor.

Leeds will house a relocation by Walker Morris, which announced that its 500 staff, who are currently split across two buildings in King Street, will relocate to a flagship office in 33 Wellington Street next summer. The building, in the city’s business district, is currently undergoing a comprehensive £10m refurbishment.

In a sign of things to come, Knight Frank points out that magic circle firm Allen & Overy has developed its Fuse incubator in its London headquarters while Mishcon De Reya has created MDR Lab – its programme for tech start-ups in the legal sphere – in its London office.

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Birmingham Breaks 1m sq ft

Colliers has just published its latest report on the Birmingham office market.

It reveals that Central Birmingham office take-up in Q4 2017 totalled 354,530 sq ft in 49 deals, taking the annual total past 1 million sq ft for the first time. The total was boosted by the 239,000 sq ft pre-let by the UK Government (GPU) at 3 Arena Central in Q3. The year-end take-up totalled 1,005,072 sq ft in 130 separate deals. Further GPU requirements are also in the pipeline for the next five years as departments including Ministry of Justice and DWP also seek to consolidate and upgrade their regional offices in Birmingham.

Amongst the largest Q4 lettings, IWG (formerly Regus) secured 76,000 sq ft of offices at Crossway on Great Charles Street, as well as 33,300 sq ft of the newly refurbished Lewis Building. Co-working operator iHub signed for 18,000 sq ft at Colmore Gate and MSO Workspace took 9,850 sq ft at 11 Brindleyplace. Serviced office providers are catering for a growing demand from banking, outsourcing and infrastructure clients who seek a flexible occupational solution as a result of investment by HSBC and HS2.  In addition, PwC took an additional pre-let of 58,631 sq ft at Two Chamberlain Square to add to the 90,000 sq ft it took at the scheme in 2016. Metropolis also reported that Spark44 took  14,176 sq ft at Norfolk House and The Princes’s Trust, took 1,773 sq m (18,980 sq ft) of offices at the Beorma Quarter. Recently, engineering consultancy firm WSP signed for 47,000 sq ft of refurbished space at Mailbox for its West Midlands regional headquarters.

On the supply side, Three Snowhill (420,000 sq ft) and 1&2 Chamberlain Square (232,000 sq ft) are due for completion by late 2019. The 42-acre Birmingham Smithfield is due to be redeveloped into over 3 million sq ft of commercial space, and in Edgbaston, there is consent for a £300 million regeneration of a 10.7-acre plot along Hagley Road. by Calthorpe Estates and U+I, known as New Garden Square, which could potentially deliver more than 600,000 sq ft of office space.

Metropolis is monitoring 50 companies searching for offices in the Birmingham area and nearly 60 companies approaching lease decisions over the next two years.