Property experts are joining forces with business leaders and the city council in a new initiative aimed at improving the offices sector in Leicester and attracting new investment and jobs to the city.
Lambert Smith Hampton (LSH) and many other city-based agents have announced the launch of the Leicester Office Market Forum.
The organisation will work to increase the supply of high quality office space in city centre and out of town locations. Other agents involved in the new forum include FHP, APB, Innes England, Cushman and Wakefield, and GVA.
Review commissioned earlier this year
The move follows the launch of an action plan drawn up after a review of commercial office space by LSH, supported by Warwick Business Management Ltd and PACEC.
Leicester City Council commissioned the review to look at current office stock and rents, and assess future levels of demand for office development.
City Mayor Peter Soulsby presented the review findings and proposed action plan – including the creation of an office market forum - to professionals in the development industry, including property agents, developers and investors earlier this year.
Forum to focus on attracting new businesses and investment to the city
Sir Peter said: "I am pleased that agents have welcomed the creation of this new office market forum so enthusiastically. It is essential that we work in close partnership with the private sector to ensure that the range and quality of space available in Leicester is competitive with other cities and continues to attract new investment and jobs into the city."
Jenny Clarke, Office Agency Surveyor in our Leicester office, said: “It is vital that Leicester improves the office accommodation availability both in the city centre and out of town if it is to compete with other cities to attract businesses, investment and jobs.
“Launching the Leicester Office Market Forum is an important development as it enables everyone – including agents, developers, investors and planners - to pull together and work for the greater good. We will be able to share market data and analysis, providing updates on office market activity and information on the office stock that’s available. We will also focus on new office development opportunities, existing space being refurbished and, ultimately, attracting more businesses to the city.”
Chairman of the forum, which will meet quarterly, is David Beale, Development Manager at Leicester City Council.
Key elements of the Mayor’s Leicester offices market action 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;
- 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.