Property and Construction
February 27, 2017
Small businesses are poorly served by London’s current commercial property market, claims a new report from the think tank Future of London. The Workspace That Works report calls for local government, developers and landlords to address the threats this poses to the capital’s economy. The report claims that SMEs make up 99 per cent of all businesses and 41 per cent of employment in the capital, in line with the rest of the UK, but London faces a number of unique structural challenges such as the growing number of offices being converted to residential use, high rents and a general lack of suitable development sites. The report highlights the growth of shared spaces as a key factor in providing dedicated space for niche firms with significantly reduced costs for small businesses and start-ups.
February 21, 2017
Business rates are a substantial overhead for many businesses, and therefore those occupying a property need to be aware of the impact of the 1 April rates revaluation and the forthcoming changes to the rates valuation appeals process. The revaluation may affect the level of compensation payable to some business tenants seeking to renew their leases. Current business rateable values took effect in England and Wales on 1 April 2010, based on rateable values on 1 April 2008. However, the Valuation Office Agency (VOA) is revising rateable values on 1 April 2017. While the rateable value of some properties is reducing, others (for example many London retail and restaurant premises) face a significant increase. You can check the draft values on the VOA website to see whether your property is due to change.
February 8, 2017
The ‘gig economy’ continues to drive London’s thriving flexible workplace sector which accounted for 8.8 percent of total office take-up in 2016, according to a new study from Cushman & Wakefield. The report claims that the pace of development will continue for the foreseeable future, not least because of the number of corporate occupiers taking on coworking space. Flexible office space accounted for more than 4.5m sq ft of take up in London over the past five years as the capital has cemented its place as the leading global market for coworking, according to the research. In 2016, flexible office take-up amounted to 842,888 sq ft across Central London, representing 8.8 percent of total take-up – slightly above the five-year average of 8.4 percent.
February 4, 2017
The UK government has reduced the public sector property estate by over 300,000 square metres delivering savings of £176 million in the last financial year, according to the latest State of the Estate report from the Cabinet Office. Speaking yesterday at the 2017 Government Property Conference, Minister for the Constitution Chris Skidmore announced that since 2010, rationalisation of the estate has reduced its size by a quarter, delivering over £1 billion in running costs. The sale of surplus properties, including Admiralty Arch (pictured) and the Old War Office, resulted in a further £1 billion in capital receipts in 2015-16 – a notable step towards the pledge to deliver £5 billion in receipts by 2020. The report shows that vacant space within the central government estate now only represents 1.4 percent – well below the average in the private sector of 8.9 percent.
February 3, 2017
Developers Knight Dragon have unveiled the details of a landmark £1 billion project as part of the Greenwich Peninsula regeneration in East London. Designed by architect and engineering firm Santiago Calatrava, the Peninsula Place development marks the latest shift in London’s shift eastwards. The scheme will total 1.4 million sq ft including a new tube and bus station, theatre, cinema and performance venue, bars, shops and a wellbeing hub. Above this will rise three office towers, apartments and hotels, all connected to the Thames by a new land bridge. The developers claim that Greenwich Peninsula is London’s largest single regeneration project. Over the coming years, the £8.4 billion transformation of the Peninsula will provide 15,720 new homes in seven new neighbourhoods: home to central London’s first major film studio, a new design district, schools, offices, health services and public spaces.
February 3, 2017
Commercial construction activity in the UK for the 12 months to the end of 2016 fell to £16.7 billion, down 14.1 percent on the previous quarter, according to JLL and Glenigan’s Q4 2016 UK Commercial Construction Activity Index. In London, activity declined in a quarterly comparison but increased 2.7 percent compared to the same period a year ago. Construction started at 22 Bishopsgate in London City which will provide a total of 1.3 million sq ft of office space, and is scheduled to complete in 2019. The 70,000 sq ft office refurbishment of 33 Gutter Lane also commenced in Q4 with completion scheduled for the second half of the year. Elsewhere it was a mixed picture across the regions with commercial construction activity increasing in the North East, South West and Wales, albeit from a relatively low base; but activity was more subdued in other regions, particularly in Yorkshire and the Humber were the level of construction activity fell 22.0 percent y-o-y.
February 2, 2017
It’s no surprise to say that technology is having a significant impact on the workplace and the use of corporate real estate. The fast pace of change has seen technology impact all aspects of business, government and culture, as well as personal life, with a constant flow of new innovations and solutions helping us to do things more quickly and efficiently. Equally, technology also provides a challenge to business and, more specifically, corporate operations, with a whole array of disruptive technologies. Disruption is indeed now running a swathe through a whole spectrum of industries. CoreNet Global’s recent report, The Bigger Picture: The Future of Corporate Real Estate, attempts to capture the impact of technological change, and a variety of other factors, that will influence, disrupt and transform the corporate real estate (CRE) profession. As business strategy and operations are reshaped and consumer preferences change, we will find that the ‘how’ and ‘where’ people want to work will transform.
January 31, 2017
London continues to be the region with the highest number of advertised vacancies (248,605) and the highest average salaries (£38,449), but its previously unassailable supremacy may soon be challenged, a new survey suggests. According to the latest UK Job Market Report from Adzuna real-time jobs data average salaries in the capital have fallen more (-3.9 percent) than any other region in the UK in the past year as salary growth in the rest of the UK catches up at a more consistent rate. This also represents a wider shift in the jobs market as the Government creates a solid post-Brexit UK economy that drives growth across the whole country. It is likely growing trends such as companies relocating their headquarters to cities outside the capital such as Manchester will continue as well as reinvestments into northern powerhouses to revitalise former struggling areas and industries. With competition for jobs per jobseeker per vacancy rising from 0.43 to 0.45 in January, jobseekers in the capital may have two hurdles ahead in the shape of a more competitive job market and pedestrian salary growth.
January 30, 2017
The UK Government’s groundbreaking One Public Sector Estate (OPE) project now includes around three quarters of the country’s local authorities following the announcement that a further 79 councils will join the programme. One Public Estate is a national programme jointly run by the Cabinet Office Government Property Unit and the Local Government Association (LGA). It supports joint working across central and local government to release land and property and boost economic growth, regeneration and integrated public services. It encourages public sector partners to share buildings, transform services, reduce running costs, and release surplus and under-used land for development. Partnerships joining the programme will receive funding and practical and technical support to unblock barriers and deliver ambitious ‘transformational projects’.
January 26, 2017
Demand for commercial property in the UK continues to grow even as the country prepares to leave the European Union, according to the latest quarterly Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) market survey. The report for Q4 2016 suggests that a large proportion of the increase was linked to the attractiveness of UK commercial property for foreign investors. But there are signs of trouble ahead, as the report acknowledges some negative expectations for London commercial property values amid fears the capital will bear the brunt of any Brexit-led departure of firms. Over the fourth quarter, overall investment enquiries were flat in the London office sector. Although the UK market has largely recovered from its post-Brexit slump, London has underperformed the wider market, with some projects being put on hold, property companies cutting rental growth forecasts and rents beginning to stagnate.
January 24, 2017
Amos Tversky and Daniel Kahneman introduced the concept of Loss Aversion in 1984, highlighting people’s tendency to strongly prefer avoiding losses to acquiring gains. Most studies suggest that losses are twice as powerful, psychologically, as gains. Lose £100 and we will feel a remorse that easily outweighs winning £100. In a similar fashion we find it very hard to see future positives when confronted with short term loses. We understand easily what we have lost but cannot imagine what there is to be gained. Furthermore, as Frederic Bastiat wrote in an 1850 paper, “That Which is Seen, and That Which is Not Seen”, man has a tendency to “pursue a small present good, which will be followed by a great evil to come, rather than a great good to come, at the risk of a small present evil”. Put these together and it is no wonder that, by and large, the future of work, corporate real estate and the workplace is so widely misunderstood.
January 23, 2017
Visitors to Barcelona may still see Jean Nouvel’s iconic, phallic Agbar Tower as a welcome sight on the city’s skyline, but the building is less loved by its owners and tenants according to a report in Spanish newspaper El Pais. Inaugurated in 2005, the 34-storey skyscraper has been sold twice in three years as tenants have vacated and plans drawn up to either refurbish it or turn it into a hotel. The latest plan from new owners Merlin Properties is to spend €13 million on a refurbishment that will include a multi-occupier space for companies working in Barcelona’s thriving tech sector, centred on the Innovation District that is home to the Torre Agbar. The refurb aims to deal with the most common complaints from previous tenants which, according to the report, include a dysfunctional doughnut shaped layout, poor sightlines, inappropriate location, small windows with no view, inadequate shutters and an unwillingness to work in a building with such an overwhelming brand identity. Image: Ralf Roletschek