Property and Construction
December 7, 2016
The unexpected political events of 2016 will lead to a rise in caution and risk aversion among real estate investors in 2017, making secure income streams more highly prized among core investors globally. This is expected to benefit the UK market, where high levels of transparency and stable legal structures make real estate a safety play, according to a report from real estate advisor Savills. The firm unveiled its predictions for UK real estate at its annual cross-sector briefing this week, taking a detailed look at the commercial property, residential and agricultural markets. The overall story for UK real estate is one of slower growth. In the commercial market, average total returns on UK property investments are likely to be approximately 5.6 percent per annum during 2017-2021, with a 1.6 percent five year capital growth forecast for office values and a 4.4 percent growth forecast for office income returns. The report claims that there will be a fall of around 30 to 40 percent overall, and possibly up to 50 percent in Central London.
December 6, 2016
The UK Cabinet Office has today announced the location of a new Government Hub at Canary Wharf, as the government prepares to move around 5,700 full time civil and public servants from offices in Whitehall to East London. The government will take the whole building, owned by Canary Wharf Group, at 10 South Colonnade, Canary Wharf, covering 50,354 sqm, on a 15 year lease (to end in 2032). The move, which will be completed by the end of 2018, supports the modernisation of the Civil Service outlined by the new Workplace Plan on July 12. The Government Property Unit, (GPU), as part of its remit to drive savings across the government estate, is overseeing the deal with Barclays for the new hub. The Government claims the hubs will benefit the public sector by ensuring the future workforce is where it needs to be, in strategic locations with great public transport connections, local amenities and offering a modern working environment. Relocating civil and public servants from existing, often fragmented office locations, to modern, cross-departmental workplaces will make the most of emerging working practices and technology is part of that drive, it claims.
November 26, 2016
In this week’s Newsletter; Ian Ellison says there are no silver bullets for workspace design, but it’s worth the effort; Justin Miller explores the workplace implications of seasonal affective disorder (SAD); and Jeff Flanagan explains why workplace design and management teams should look towards consumer-facing industries for inspiration. Asia set to lead the world in the uptake of artificial intelligence in the workplace; Staples announces tomorrow’s workplace design winners; and UK Government to invest properly in the next generation of technological infrastructure. One in seven UK employees now commute over two hours each day; Millennials reject the gig economy; Autumn statement could adversely affect London’s tech firms; and global report finds that flexible working is a necessity for younger workers. Download our new Briefing, produced in partnership with Boss Design on the link between culture and workplace strategy and design; visit our new events page, follow us on Twitter and join our LinkedIn Group to discuss these and other stories.
November 18, 2016
Traditionally, the two principle vectors for change in the commercial property market have been lease lengths and space standards. Both have shrunk markedly over recent years, subject to the miniaturising effects of technological and cultural change. Even so, the effects of this contraction have taken place within an existing paradigm so have been easily understood, if not always acted upon.So it has been that major property organisations such as the British Council for Offices and CoreNet have been able to produce guides and reports based on well understood principles and without challenging the business models and assumptions of developers, landlords, workplace designers and occupiers. For most the challenges remained the same, not least how to resolve the sometimes conflicting timescales of people, place, property and technology that is the defining tension at the heart of office design and management.
November 16, 2016
Following the announcement in September that Apple was to reaffirm its commitment to the UK with a major investment in the creation of a new headquarters building in London, the latest global tech giant to follow suit is Google. The firm has confirmed it is to open a new HQ in the capital which will see 3,000 jobs created by 2020. In an interview with the BBC, chief executive Sundar Pichai claimed that he is confident that the UK Government will not be throwing up barriers to the movement of skilled labour in the wake of the Brexit vote. Based on this he is moving ahead with the Bjarke Ingels Group and Thomas Heatherwick designed £1 billion Kings Cross development that will allow the firm to expand its UK workforce to 7,000 people. Heatherwick has previously worked with Google alongside Bjarke Ingels Group on the design of their Mountain View headquarters in California. He was drafted in to work on the London project after a previous design was rejected because it was ‘boring’.
November 15, 2016
Central London office construction has continued to rise over the past six months, reaching 14.8 million sq ft, and setting a new eight-year development high in the capital. The latest London Office Crane Survey by Deloitte Real Estate has recorded 40 new starts, adding 2.8 million sq ft into the development pipeline. Once again, the greatest number of new starts was in the City. Construction began on 14 new schemes, totalling 1.1 million sq ft, and increases the City’s development pipeline to 8.8 million sq ft. In contrast, the West End and Midtown submarkets have seen construction activity decrease by 25 percent and 20 percent respectively over the past six months. This is largely as a result of a number of projects completing and smaller schemes starting. For the first time, the crane survey also tracks construction activity in three additional locations: Vauxhall-Nine Elms-Battersea, White City and Stratford. These three areas boast 11 office schemes under construction and will deliver 2.9 million sq ft to the market, 65 percent of which is already pre-let.
November 15, 2016
Take-up of prime office space in central Manchester is on course to hit 1 million sq ft in 2016 and could be influenced by the impact of Brexit. The latest research by Colliers International suggests that overseas investors retained an interest in prime Manchester office space partly because of the devaluation of sterling following the Referendum vote for the UK to leave the EU – as proven by the recent £164m acquisition of the 288,000 sq ft One St Peter’s Square by global real estate investor Deka Immobilien. There have been a series of other major deals, including an insurance firm taking 165,000 sq ft of Grade A office scheme, a global law firm moving its global centre into an 80,848 sq ft development; and a government department negotiating a 60,000 sq ft deal. The legal sector accounted for almost 25 percent of total office take-up so far in 2016, followed by media and technology (16 percent) and business services (15 percent). However, all this activity may result in a lack of ready to occupy space in the city by early 2017.
November 14, 2016
Almost half of firms (44 percent) believe the UK’s infrastructure has improved over the past five years, but only a quarter (27 percent) think it will pick up in the next five years, and two thirds (64 percent) suspect it will hamper the country’s international competitiveness in the coming decades, according to the 2016 CBI/AECOM Infrastructure Survey. Delivery of key projects already in the pipeline emerged as the top priority among the 728 firms surveyed. Delivery of £38 billion of investment in the rail network through Control Period 5 (99 percent of respondents), and £15 billion of investment in the UK’s motorways and A-roads through the Road Investment Strategy (97 percent of respondents) rank highly, as does delivery of a new runway in the South East (85 percent) & HS2 (80 percent). Many firms have specific concerns about teh country’s digital infrastructure including the ability tow work on teh go on trains and elsewhere.
November 9, 2016
The latest part of the UK’s vast public sector estate that is being primed for a large scale sell-off is that of the Ministry of Defence. According to a government statement, 91 sites including more than fifty barracks, naval sites and airfields will be sold under plans to shrink the size of the defence estate by nearly a third. The MoD predicts that the sale will raise around £1 billion and cut running costs by around £140 million per annum, while the rest of the estate will benefit from the investment of around £4 billion to improve housing and facilities for personnel. Perhaps surprisingly the MoD also owns five golf courses which will be sold as part of the shake up announced in the newly published A Better Defence Estate strategy document.
November 8, 2016
Delegates from across the World are gathering in Morocco this week for the 22nd global climate change summit, known as the Conference of the Parties (COP22), where they will focus on the implementation of the Paris Agreement. This historic agreement was reached last December at COP21 in Paris, France, when for the first time, 191 nations committed to collectively addressing the effects of climate change. The Paris Agreement aims to keep the global temperature rise well below 2 degrees Celsius and to limit the temperature increase even further to 1.5 degrees Celsius. It was signed by all negotiating countries and has thus far been ratified by 75 member states. However, despite the fact that the agreement entered into international law on the 4th November, the UK is yet to ratify it, which according to the UK-GBC’s Campaigns and Policy Director, John Alker, is “pretty poor. We cannot afford to be dragging our heels on this; not only is there a moral imperative to tackle climate change, but the economic case for action is huge.“
October 31, 2016
Demand for office space following the Brexit outcome remains flat according to RICS latest UK Commercial Market Survey 2016; and while the overall UK Commercial property market is showing some signs of a return to a more positive mood post-EU referendum, this has been driven mainly by the industrial sector. London and Scotland are lagging behind the rest of the UK, with Scotland seeing the sharpest drop in headline demand with 24 percent more chartered surveyors seeing a fall during Q3. In the capital, demand fell for the second consecutive quarter with offices seeing the most significant dip (22 percent more respondents reported seeing a fall in demand for London office space). Anecdotal evidence suggests that political uncertainty is still having an effect on both these markets. And the survey also found that respondents from German cities have seen enquiries from UK-based firms and expect there to be an increase in relocation away from Britain over the next two years.
October 25, 2016
The recent warning that the major banks are planning to leave the Capital following the Brexit vote has understandably caused some concern within the commercial property sector; so it’s cheering to hear that three in ten (30 percent) institutional investors actually believe Brexit will either increase or significantly increase European commercial real estate investment opportunities. A further one in four (23 percent) institutional investors believe that Brexit will have no impact on commercial real estate investment opportunities. According to a new study by BrickVest, following the UK’s decision to leave the European Union, nearly two in five (38 percent) institutional real estate investors cited London as the top European city to invest in commercial real estate, ahead of Berlin (36 percent), Munich (31 percent) and Paris (22 percent). However, one in five (21 percent) cited both Dublin and Hamburg and a further 16 percent selected Frankfurt, highlighting a clear positive trend towards German commercial real estate. Indeed 40 percent of the top ten European cities were German.