London, 26 January 2023 – Final year end data from real estate services firm Cushman & Wakefield reveals that take-up in the Central London office market exceeded expectations to reach 10.47 million sq ft in 2022, 10% up on the 5-year average, with a further 2.76 million sq ft under offer, despite the challenging economic environment.
The banking and finance sector acquired the largest volume of space, taking a 20% market share, followed by professional services (18%), media & tech (17%) and legal (15%). By geography, the City led the way with 5.53 million sq ft of take-up in 2022, 4% up on the 5-year average. Key deals include Clifford Chance pre-letting 326,000 sq ft at 2 Aldermanbury Square; Hogan Lovells pre-letting 266,000 sq ft at 18-20 Holborn Viaduct; and Kirkland & Ellis pre-letting 212,000 sq ft at 40 Leadenhall Street. Performance wise the West End was up 21% on the 5-year average at 4.21 million sq ft of take-up. Significant deals include Blackstone pre-letting 226,000 sq ft at Lansdowne House; Capital Group taking 220,000 sq ft at Paddington Square; and MSD pre-letting 196,000 at Belgrove House.
Take up in the final quarter of 2022 totalled 2.59 million sq ft across Central London including four 100,000 sqft+ transactions, with the City accounting for 1.4 million sq ft and the West End 994,592 million sq ft. Prime rental values remained stable at £120 per sq ft in the West End and £72.50 per sq ft in the City.
Overall, 604 leasing transactions took place in 2022, up 34% on 2021 (452 deals). The volume of sub-25,000 sq ft deals provided a significant boost to the year-end figures, increasing 47% year-on-year and equating to 528 deals – its highest percentage of the total in over 10 years. The demand stats mirror this trend. There are currently 296 active requirements in the Central London market, totalling 8.5 million sq ft. The banking & financial sector lead these requirements (23%), followed by professional services and media & tech (both at 19%). Interestingly, 250 requirements are below 50,000 sq ft, amounting to some 4.5 million sq ft.
Ben Cullen, Head of UK Offices at Cushman & Wakefield, said: “The bifurcation of the London office market is at its most acute since before the GFC. The appetite for the best office space is incredibly fierce, but occupier demands and expectations for their office space are also deepening – location, flexibility sustainability and well-being are rising up the list of priorities and are playing an even bigger role in price negotiations - providing much food for thought for developers and landlords.”
There is currently 25.10 million sq ft of supply in the Central London office market (including under offers), of which 10.59 million sq ft is classified as grade A. Against the 5-year quarterly average, vacancy remains relatively high at 8.78% overall, 3.7% for grade A.
Looking ahead to 2023, around 15.2 million sq ft of space is currently under construction (10.5 million sq ft is speculative), with 54% set to complete this year and 24% in 2024. Given ongoing construction delays reflecting labour and material shortages questions remain over how much will truly be delivered in 2023.
“We saw occupier out performance in 2022 and a glimpse of what could be a new normal for our market. The ways in which trends in workplace dynamics play out despite an economically inflationary backdrop will be key to driving demand and pricing in the future.” Said Andy Tyler, Head of London Office Leasing at Cushman & Wakefield.