Rising Office Requirements Meanwhile Reach Levels Not Seen Since 2014
London, 24 October 2022 – The availability of Grade A office space in London is at its lowest level since Q4 2010, accounting for just 41% of total supply (10.72 million sq ft), according to new data from real estate services firm Cushman & Wakefield.
Meanwhile, office requirements for new space – much of which is for Grade A – has ballooned over the last quarter to over 11 million sq ft, its highest level since March 2014. Much of this demand is for space in the 20,000 to 50,000 sq ft bracket (40%) and from the Banking & Financial Services and Media & Technology sectors.
“Assuming consistency of demand, we would expect further rental increases for quality Grade A space in London by the end of the year,” said Andy Tyler, Head of London Office Leasing at Cushman & Wakefield.
Looking to the future, the market mismatch between Grade A office supply and demand may yet be further compounded by developers questioning the viability of the 9.24 million sq ft of approved office developments yet to be constructed in London as costs soar amid rising interest rates. How many of these developments commence, or are delayed further, will be key in determining future supply and demand dynamics and rental performance.
The diminished availability of Grade A office space is at odds with the general London office supply, with overall supply levels increasing by 6% in Q3 2022 to 25 million sq ft. This puts vacancy levels at 8.8% - its highest level since 2004. This has largely been driven by an 11% rise in the volume of second-hand space (now totalling 14.8 million sq ft).
The Central London leasing market is nonetheless proving resilient, with 7.65 million sq ft of leasing activity recorded so far this year, 9% above the five-year Q1-Q3 average. The most recent quarter saw 2.46 million sq ft in transactions, 3% above the five-year Q1-Q3 average. This was led by the Professional Services, Media & Technology and Banking & Finance sectors, which accounted for 24%, 21% and 20% of take-up in Q3 respectively. The largest transactions were Addleshaw Goddard taking over 110,000 sq ft at 41 Lothbury, EC2; Citibank taking over 94,000 sq ft at 40 Bank Street, E14; and Alpha Plus Group taking a 62,000 pre-let at 15 Emberton House, W14.
“Occupiers’ priorities when it come to their office space have clearly pivoted away from quantity and towards quality and performance. This is taking several forms but ESG credentials, greater appeal to talent and culture retention are topping the list and only the best quality space can offer that. Competition is fierce especially now firms have a clearer picture of what their future of work might look like post-pandemic, and we are seeing more and more take action. Those looking for secondary space have plenty of options available to them, but I foresee a lot of stock requiring redevelopment or complete repositioning,” said Tyler.