A predicted exodus of major companies if Scotland votes for independence could create opportunities to boost business in cities south of the border.
Major banks and financial institutions in Edinburgh and Glasgow have warned that they may consider leaving Scotland if the Yes campaign wins the referendum on September 18.
Alex Tross, Head of Office Agency at LSH in Birmingham, said cities in England and Wales may benefit if investment and jobs flow south in the wake of the vote as some economists are predicting.
Alex said: “We have long talked about Birmingham being the ideal location for the relocation and decentralization of Government departments from London. We’ve recently attracted Deutsche Bank and have been waiting to see if other major banking institutions follow in its footsteps and move north to the city.
“What we weren’t expecting, until the last week or so, was the prospect of scores of major companies currently based in Scotland hurriedly looking for office space south of the border amid concerns at the impact of a vote in favour of independence.
“It may have caught many people in the business world on the hop, but it is a situation that is now very real and the potential demand could create fantastic opportunities for Birmingham and other major cities in England and Wales.”
Birmingham perfectly placed to attract major employers
He added: “If there are banks willing to consider moving north from London, then why wouldn’t those based in Edinburgh and Glasgow also see Birmingham as an attractive alternative?
“There are many positive signs that the city has the ability to attract major employers, with Deutsche Bank already here, HS2 bringing 1,500 jobs to the city and Extra Energy expanding its city operations.
“We also have many major office developments in the pipeline, such as Two Cornwall Street, Lumina, Great Charles Square, Arena Central and Paradise Circus each already achieving planning consent. This amounts to in the region of 2.5m sq ft of new, grade A office space, potentially coming to market over the next five to 10 years.
“The city is gearing up for dramatically increased demand and the timing could be perfect. It will also be competitive from a cost comparison point of view, with rents in both major Scottish cities being high.
“If Scotland votes for independence, and firms begin to consider relocating, Birmingham could put forward a fantastic business case, and point to improvements such as the airport runway extension, the transformation of New Street Station, the new tram system, and Birmingham Sprint rapid transport vehicle,” added Alex.
“In addition to our efforts to tempt London-based occupiers to move north we should, in light of the recent developments in Scotland and announcements by companies such as Standard Life and Lloyds, also consider targeting those who may believe that their businesses need to be based in the UK in order to continue to thrive.”