An action plan to increase the supply of high quality office space in Leicester was launched by Leicester’s City Mayor today.
The plan was drawn up following a review of commercial office space by leading national property consultancy Lambert Smith Hampton (LSH), supported by Warwick Business Management Ltd and PACEC.
Review commissioned earlier this year
The council commissioned the review in May this year to look at current office stock and rents, and assess future levels of demand for office development in Leicester.
City Mayor Peter Soulsby will present the review findings and proposed action plan to professionals in the development industry, including property agents, developers and investors.
Key elements of the plan include:
- office development over 100 square metres will no longer be restricted to the New Business Quarter. Proposals for office development on other city centre sites will be welcomed and encouraged;
- policy will also be revised to allow for a less restrictive approach to car parking requirements. Each site and proposal will be considered on an individual basis;
- planning and development officers will work with existing site owners to establish early planning advice. This will ensure that if land owners and developers have potential occupiers they have already established all planning and highway requirements as far as possible, so that applications can be fast-tracked to bring sites forward;
- a newly-formed Commercial Office Market Forum will ensure the council has links with property agents and know who to contact to ensure information and assistance can be provided to support property enquiries, and an annual office market review will be produced;
- the council will look at its own land and property assets to see if it can bring forward possible development opportunities;
- the council will work with partners to look at the potential of setting up a revolving investment fund. This would enable developers to borrow money to put in roads or other infrastructure to get developments kick-started, and pay it back once their scheme was sold or let.
Plan will have major impact on city's commercial office market
Peter Soulsby said: “The review has provided us with valuable information on the current state of the market and has enabled us to develop actions that could make a significant difference to the commercial office market in the city.
“Our aim is for Leicester to be attractive to companies looking to relocate from all over the country, and to make sure that we can keep our existing businesses by providing the right supply of high quality office accommodation.
“The plan we are putting forward has a good mix of initiatives to help us achieve this aim, and I would like to thank Lambert Smith Hampton and all of those who have contributed to it.”
Demand for grade A space in the city centre
Jane Taylor, Director in our Leicester office, led the project. She said there is a demand for grade A office space in the city. “Many people want to be in the city centre but there are obstacles such as parking issues and suitable levels of high quality office space.”
She added: “The city’s commercial area has a shortage of grade A office space that meets occupier requirements and in recent years the city centre has lost financial and professional services to business parks on the outskirts of Leicester. Current economic conditions and a lack of investment finance have restricted speculative office development and Leicester, like most cities, has seen only a limited amount of new grade A office space developed.
“However, I am confident that if the action plan is implemented we will see an increase in new office developments, existing space being refurbished and, ultimately, more businesses being attracted to locate in the city centre.”
Our work involved information gathering and analysis to provide an evidence base which will assist the city council to engage with developers, investors and potential occupiers, review current policy and identify potential office development sites for assessment through a site allocation planning process.
View the Executive Summary
The Leicester Office Market Review Executive Summary can be seen at http://citymayor.leicester.gov.uk/thrivingcitycentre/