Commercial property research and viewpoints

Northern Powerhouse office markets in strong shape

The core occupier markets of the Northern Powerhouse maintained their momentum in the second quarter of 2018, despite an apparent fall in activity from the two largest centres.

Analysis of our latest Office Market Pulse revealed that combined take-up across Leeds, Manchester, Newcastle and Sheffield city centres totalled 675,002 sq ft during Q2, bringing the total for H1 to 1,483,403 sq ft; up a staggering 135% on the same period last year.

While take-up across Leeds and Manchester was down on the previous quarter, this was borne out of two major transactions which took place during Q1, namely the HMRC’s letting of 157,000 sq ft at Three New Bailey in Manchester and Walker Morris’ 76,000 sq ft letting at 33 Wellington Street in Leeds.

Of the 130 transactions that completed during the three months to June, 14 were over 10,000 sq ft accounting for 46% of the total space let or sold.

Notable transactions included:

  • WSP’s acquisition of 53,839 sq ft at 8 First Street, Manchester
  • Handelsbanken’s 39,934 sq ft letting at 101 Barbirolli, Manchester
  • Ministry of Justice’s acquisition of 25,938 sq ft at 5 Wellington Place, Leeds
  • South Yorkshire Housing Association’s 25,000 sq ft letting at Rockingham Court, Sheffield
  • University of Newcastle’s acquisition of 13,606 sq ft at Northumberland House

Professional Services remained the most dominant sector across three of the four markets, while activity in Leeds was evenly split across Banking and Finance, Professional Services and Technology, Media and Telecommunications occupiers.

Overall supply stood at 4.2m sq ft, down 8% on the previous quarter. Availability reduced across all cities excluding Newcastle, with Manchester unsurprisingly seeing the strongest fall of 15%, followed by Sheffield at 11% and Leeds at 4%. Grade A supply now equates to just 29% of total availability.

Encouragingly, the amount of speculative space under construction or refurbishment across the region has risen, albeit marginally, to circa 2m sq ft, owing to a number of new development starts including 2 New Bailey in Salford, Brazennose House in Manchester city centre and the Luman at Newcastle Helix.

Adam Varley, Director of Office Advisory in Leeds, commented: “Following a phenomenal start to the year, it has been a steady quarter for the core office markets across the Northern Powerhouse, with encouraging levels of demand from larger occupiers across the region.

“While the outlook for the second half of the year remains positive, we would heed a word of caution until such time that these new projects are delivered we expect some of the markets to see a slowdown in the level of take-up, not borne out of a lack of demand, but more due to the looming pinch in immediately available space.”

Explore the markets in more detail:

> Leeds

> Manchester

> Newcastle

> Sheffield

For further information relating to this news article contact 

Contact us now

Adam Varley
Director - Office Advisory

0113 887 6706

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