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London Offices – 2011, Looking Up

The central London property market seems to be at a turning point in terms of construction activity. It would seem that we are at the start of the next development cycle, with the prospect of major office projects starting in 2011.

CityOffices constantly reviews London’s office development projects. The latest ‘Skyline Monitor’ shows that a total of 11 schemes started on site during summer 2010. Schemes such as The Pinnacle in the City, 62 Buckingham Gate, SW1, and Park House in Oxford Street, W1, added a further 1.3m sq ft to office space under construction.

The current total office space under construction in London is 4.2m sq ft, comprising 2.4m in the City; 1.1m sq ft in the West End, 600,000 sq ft on the Southbank and 130,000 sq ft in Midtown.

The 4.2m under construction at present is low when compared to the 13m sq ft under construction two years ago, but does compares favourably with the mere five office schemes started this time last year.

This summer nearly 5.8m sq ft of offices were completed in schemes such as Minerva’s St Botolphs building, EC3; Derwent’s Angel Building, EC1; and Standard Life’s 95 Gresham Street, EC2. A number of lettings have been secured in these buildings and currently half of the 5.8m sq ft has been let, in line with the overall sharp reduction in prime office space available in central London.

CityOffices has identified 21 London office projects where demolition is either underway or the site has been cleared. It is anticipated that starts on around half of these before Christmas 2010, which could result in a further 1.5m sq ft of offices under construction by the New Year.

Looking forward to 2011, Cityoffices is currently tracking 110 office schemes in central London totaling over 22m sq ft, which have planning permission, and where the developer is thought to be considering a start in 2011. The short-list of developers lining up schemes to start next year includes British Land, Land Securities, Great Portland Estates, Helical Bar, and Exemplar.

The reason behind the increasing activity in central London is that Grade A office space availability is expected to hit a low point in late 2014 and rents are already rising to reflect shortages of prime space. Developers are keen to catch the next property ‘wave’ before it peaks and are trying to push ahead with developments. In reality not all these schemes will start but Cityoffices is tracking them all to identify the ‘winning’ development teams. - (19-11-2010)

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