May 9, 2016
The smart city is the poster child for the new era of immersive digital living, but the British public remains ‘clueless or indifferent’ about the nature of smart cities and what they will mean for their lives, according to a new report entitled: Smart Cities – Time to involve the people published by the Institution of Engineering and Technology. The report claims that only 18 per cent of the British public has heard of a ‘smart city’ and many are unaware that city-wide technologies could improve the quality of life in urban areas. One third of respondents were unable to select the correct definition of a smart city from a list of options. Eight per cent of respondents opted for “a city that has a higher than average proportion of universities and colleges and aims to attract the most intellectual”. And a further five per cent saw it as “a city that has a strict cleaning regime for its buildings, roads and public places”.
May 5, 2016
We might all welcome London’s success as a thriving centre of commerce and culture, but this comes at a price and we need to look for a better balance than we currently see between London and the rest of the UK. Of course London is often the main victim of its own success. Its thriving tech and creative firms continue to spill out of the incubator districts created for them to find cheaper and more appropriate spaces in which to grow. In doing so they are pushing up rents in such unlikely nearby places as Croydon. In the traditional business districts in the City and Docklands, the capital’s tech giants are now able to compete for the first time for some of the most expensive real estate on the planet. To cope with demand, the Mayor is rubberstamping tall buildings like never before, many of them bloody awful, unloved by Londoners and heritage organisations alike, transforming the skyline and creating windswept, arid tundra at their feet.
May 4, 2016
Demand for office space in the UK regional office markets has remained strong for the first quarter of this year, despite uncertainties surrounding a potential Brexit. A total of 1,381,350 sq ft of office space was taken in the ‘Big 6’ regional cities in the Jan-April period, just marginally below the final quarter performance of 2015 but 27 percent higher than the five quarterly average, CBRE has revealed. The leading cities in terms of year-to-date take-up are Birmingham, Edinburgh and Glasgow, with total volumes of around the 285,000 sq ft mark in each of these three cities. All of these markets have substantially outperformed their five year quarterly average and have each supported a strong level of pre-letting activity. In the case of Glasgow, the volume for the beginning of 2016 has been twice the quarterly average. The strong start in this market is the result of Morgan Stanley signing a large pre-let for 154,814 sq ft at the first phase of Bothwell Exchange.
May 4, 2016
One new tech company has started every hour in London since 2012, which has firmly established the Capital as the global leader in tech and media start ups. According to property firm JLL, over the last five years, a massive 45,000 new tech businesses has been set up in London, with 98 percent of tech companies being start-ups and small businesses. There is migration from the West End to the City and the East, including ‘Silicon Roundabout’ in Old Street, but also new areas which are attracting technology and media companies. The growth of small business has also seen the average office footprint of T&M business fall over the last three years. JLL says for every one T&M company that moved out of Aldgate, Clerkenwell and Shoreditch over the last three years, two new tech and media companies moved in indicating the rapid consolidation of T&M business in the East.
May 3, 2016
A new report from techUK and Citrix claims that the UK’s housing crisis is exacerbated by the majority of workers (59 percent) working on the basis that there is greater potential for securing employment by living and working in large cities. The Housing Crisis: a Digital Solution (download) is based on data from YouGov research into the expectations of 1,243 UK knowledge workers with the potential to enjoy remote working. The report claims that the burden that location-dependent work places on large cities could be significantly reduced by allowing workers to work remotely, as over half of British workers (54 per cent) stated they would be likely to relocate to a rural area if they could still perform their role to the same level. However, while many workers would relocate if they could, connectivity, transport and corporate culture were all cited as challenges to achieving this especially when 48 per cent of rural premises don’t have access to high-speed broadband internet.
April 28, 2016
The high costs associated with accommodating staff in London will lead to a trend over the next decade of office occupiers moving away from the capital to the major cities around the UK. This is according to the 2016 edition of property consultancy Lambert Smith Hampton’s annual Office Market Report, which highlights the significant and growing difference in premises, staff and housing costs between Central London and the UK’s other key cities. For cities such as Bristol, Manchester and Birmingham, staff and premises costs (including rent, business rates, day-to-day running costs etc) for a new-build office collectively amount to just over £50,000 per workstation. Measured on the same basis, a workstation in London’s Midtown area carries an annual cost of well over £80,000. In practice, this means that the overall cost of occupying a new-build office in a location such as Bristol for 500 staff stands at £27m per annum; in Midtown, the total cost would be over £13m higher each year.
April 26, 2016
The World Green Building Council (WGBC) – a network of national green building councils aimed at influencing the green building marketplace – has announced that its Europe Regional Network has signed a Memorandum of Understanding to help drive sustainable property development with the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD). The EBRD works to support the development of the private sector across Europe, the Southern and Eastern Mediterranean and Central Asia, and the provision of modern real estate infrastructure is essential to support economic expansion and diversification in these regions. The new agreement provides a framework to cooperate on a number of areas of sustainable building practices, including promoting best industry standards and practices for energy and resource efficiency, climate resilience and building sustainability; promoting innovative zero-waste design, green urban planning and low carbon emissions; engaging in policy dialogue; and mobilisation of financial resources.
April 25, 2016
A new report from WSP and Farrells claims to identify exactly how the advent of autonomous vehicles will have a significant impact on the real estate sector worldwide. It suggests that changes in the way cars are owned and used will free up large tracts of potentially valuable property for other uses. Although the report confirms that driverless cars may increase the amount of people able to use cars for transport, including those currently unable or unwilling to drive, the amount of parking necessary to accommodate them may shrink significantly as shared ownership becomes a norm and road design changes to meet the needs of autonomous vehicles. The end result will be significant changes in the way urban space is planned and developed with a potential increase in the amount of land available for development by up to a fifth. IN the UK this will equate to hundreds of millions of pounds of added value for major city centres.
April 15, 2016
London has reached the highest level of commercial construction since 2008, with activity totalling £7.4 billion. According to JLL and Glenigan’s latest UK Commercial Construction Index the level of speculative office development under construction in Central London totalled 8.3 million sq ft at the end of Q1 2016, well ahead of the long term average (5 million sq ft) indicating that developers are continuing to respond to London’s burgeoning requirements for new office floor space. In the West End office market alone, construction started speculatively on nine schemes in the first quarter of this year totalling 596,997 sq ft; the highest level of commencements since the end of 2014. The largest starts were at Brunel, W2 at 241,000 sq ft, which is scheduled to complete in 2019 and The Foundry, W8, a refurbishment planned to complete by the end of this year totalling 110,000 sq ft.
April 14, 2016
Londoners are less likely to work flexibly than the rest of the UK, despite having much longer commuting times. This is according to the results of new research by the CIPD which found that many Londoners are travelling for the equivalent of at least one full working day in a ‘typical’ week. They spend an average of 47 minutes travelling to work each way compared to the national average of 31 minutes, and their average travel to work time increases to 56 minutes each way, if you consider a combination of both employees who live in London and those that commute into the capital from outside the M25. The data also reveals that flexible workers in London are more satisfied with their jobs, feel under less pressure and have better work-life balance than those who don’t work flexibly. In its policy programme, Opportunity through work: A manifesto for London, the CIPD is calling for a campaign to increase the uptake of flexible working in the Capital.
April 12, 2016
Londoners may reportedly be growing concerned over the proliferation of tall buildings, but what if they were constructed in wood, rather than steel and concrete? This is the possibility raised by researchers from Cambridge University’s Department of Architecture, who are working with PLP Architecture and engineers Smith and Wallwork, on the development of tall timber buildings in central London. The use of timber is an area of emerging interest for its potential benefits; the most obvious being that it is a renewable resource. Researchers are also investigating other potential benefits, such as reduced costs and improved construction timescales, increased fire resistance, and significant reduction in the overall weight of buildings. Mayor of London Boris Johnson has now been presented with conceptual plans for an 80-storey, 300m high mixed use wooden building integrated within the Barbican.
April 8, 2016
You may recall a couple of news stories from January that sparked a fleeting debate about the way technology allows firms to pry into where we are and what we are doing. The first concerned the installation of under-desk sensors at the offices of The Daily Telegraph, the second a ruling from the European Court of Human Rights concerning the rights of employers to monitor the social media activities of staff. Our take on these stories was that neither was quite as it was reported, but maybe there’s more to concern us in a claim from an advocacy group called Krowdthink that Wi-Fi and mobile networks in the UK routinely track our location and sell data to marketing firms and other third parties. The organisation has initiated a new campaign called Opt me out of Location to highlight what it considers the privacy implications of a situation in which 93 percent of mobile phone users in the UK have their location monitored, usually without their knowledge.