Property and Construction
August 23, 2013
The news this week that work is to begin on the former Lumiere site in Leeds is a clear indicator of how investor confidence in commercial property has reached its highest level since Q2 2008, according to Jones Lang LaSalle. Its latest UK Real Estate Investor Confidence Survey, which canvassed the views of nearly 100 principals and lenders in the UK commercial property investment sector, found investor confidence has jumped by 7 per cent in the second quarter of 2013 compared with Q1, a 63 per cent increase on Q2 last year. The report’s findings also showed even greater competition for assets amongst property investors is anticipated with 61 per cent of respondents expecting more buyers than sellers, up from 42 per cent last quarter. More →
August 22, 2013
The UK’s largest living wall, designed to reduce urban flooding, has been unveiled in London’s Victoria district. Standing at 350 square metres with over 10,000 ferns, herbaceous plants and 16 tons of soil, the wall, at the Rubens at the Palace Hotel near Buckingham Palace reaches over 21 metres high. The wall’s unique design enables it to capture rainwater from the roof of the building in dedicated storage tanks. Flooding is a key environmental challenge in Victoria during periods of heavy rain, due to the low absorbency of urban surfaces. According to the Environment Agency, there are now around 534,000 properties in London on the Thames floodplain, and one in four in London are at risk of flooding. More →
August 22, 2013
Work is to begin on the development of the troubled former Lumiere site in the centre of Leeds after it was acquired by new owners. As we reported back in March, planning permission was granted as a way of resurrecting the site for a 195,000 sq. ft. mixed-use scheme including over 130,000 sq. ft. of commercial space, which will at a stroke increase the supply of available office space in Leeds city centre by more than half. The original plans to build Europe’s tallest residential tower on the site fell through in 2008 in the wake of the economic slump. The new Central Square scheme will consist of two new building up to 11 storeys high which will create an initial 130,000 sq. ft. of office space with outline consent for 64,000 sq. ft. for either office or hotel use.
August 21, 2013
Siemens and the C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group have announced the 29 cities shortlisted for the inaugural City Climate Leadership Awards. C40 is a network of cities from around the world committed to implementing meaningful and sustainable climate-related actions and the new awards aim to recognise C40 City members that can demonstrate climate action leadership. The winners will be announced at an event at the environmental London landmark building the Crystal [pictured], home to Siemens’ sustainable cities initiative, on September 4, 2013. This will be followed by a conference on September 5, gathering mayors, city planners, and urban sustainability experts to address some of the most pressing climate change and sustainability challenges of the day. More →
August 19, 2013
A pick-up in confidence across a broad range of sectors, including services and construction and a better than expected second quarter has led the CBI to raise its growth forecasts, with GDP growth of 1.2 per cent predicted in 2013, up from 1.0 per cent in the May forecast. In 2014, the business group expects the economy to gather pace, forecasting 2.3 per cent GDP growth, up from 2.0 per cent in May. However, unemployment rates look set to stick at around 7.8 per cent. John Cridland, CBI Director-General said: “The economy has started to gain momentum and confidence is picking up, but it’s still early days. We need to see a full-blown rebalancing of our economy, with stronger business investment and trade before we can call a sustainable recovery.” More →
August 13, 2013
Worldwide office space standards are now moving closer to the norm seen in the UK according to a new survey from CoreNet Global. According to the CoreNet survey of real estate managers, the average amount of space per office worker globally has dropped to 150 sq. ft (14 sq.m.) , from 225 sq. ft. (21 sq.m.). This is still well outside the standards from the British Council for Offices Specification Guide which reported a fall to 11.8 sq. m. in 2009 and which will be revised downwards even further with the publication of the new guide which has been promised soon. Even this figure might be seen as high and makes assumptions about the relevance of such space standards given the way some firms now work.
August 12, 2013
The signs that the UK’s economic recovery is now underway are given credibility with news that the UK’s commercial property sector is at its most buoyant for six years. According to a report from Savills which looked at new build and refurbishment activity during July, a fifth (20.1percent) of UK developers reported an increase in activity compared to 18.9 percent in June. Savills claims this is the greatest rate of growth since May 2007. The rise was driven primarily by an increase in private sector work as reported by nearly a third (31.4 percent) of developers, with only 1.4 percent reporting a rise in public sector activity. Developers are also optimistic about their prospects in the near future, with a quarter (25.1 percent) saying they were positive about what would happen over the next three months, up from 14 percent in June. The Savills report links this positivity to greater occupier confidence and more finance from banks.
August 7, 2013
Construction firms in Scotland are increasingly reluctant to bid for public sector building work because of the spiralling costs of tendering for work, according to a new survey from the Scottish Building Federation. The SBF claims that the cost of tendering for public sector contracts has sky-rocketed in the past five years – and is now equivalent to £94 million each year as firms vie for a share of the £2 billion worth of public sector construction contracts awarded annually in Scotland. The survey claims that the annual cost to construction firms of participating in public procurement is now 4.4 percent of the total value of contracts, with builders reporting an increase of between 20 percent to 50 percent on most projects over the last five years.
August 7, 2013
There are signs that the UK’s faltering economy is on the road to recovery. Construction activity in the UK jumped sharply in July to hit its highest level in over three years, according to the latest Markit/CIPS survey of purchasing managers. This may have been driven primarily by a surge in house building, but even the recently moribund commercial construction sector saw an increase in activity. However a new report from the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors has highlighted that while the UK may have reason to smile, the picture of global commercial property markets is very patchy.
July 30, 2013
The Government has confirmed it’s to strengthen energy efficiency standards for new homes and non-domestic buildings. The toughened up measures announced today in Parliament covering Part L of the Building Regulations will mean a six per cent cut in carbon emissions for new build homes, and a nine per cent cut for non-domestic buildings. According to the government, the small increase in construction costs will be “heavily outweighed” by subsequent energy savings. There have been criticisms however, over the length of time it’s taken for the changes to be announced as a consultation on the proposed changes closed over a year ago. More →
July 29, 2013
As we’ve reported previously London is enjoying a booming office rental market, but according to the latest CBI/KPMG London Business Survey, high operating costs are making the capital less of an attractive prospect. While more of London’s businesses plan to expand during the next year, fewer are planning to do so in the capital, with high operating costs and housing shortages cited as the biggest concerns. London’s firms also plan to spend relatively more on recruitment and training; product and process innovation; and IT plant and machinery, but less on land and buildings. More →
July 24, 2013
The UK construction sector finally seems to be turning a corner with new projects beginning to rise in almost every part of the country, according to the latest RICS construction market survey. During the second quarter of this year a net balance of 21 per cent more surveyors reported rises in workloads, the most positive reading in over six years. While consistently falling activity has meant that projects are still generally speaking thin on the ground, this upturn suggests that the worst could now be over for the sector. More →