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Colliers forecasts lift-off for commercial property market in South West England3rd January 2014

Colliers forecasts lift-off for commercial property market in South West EnglandAccording to the latest figures from commercial property specialists Colliers International, a faster than expected recovery in the UK economy could restore Bristol’s financial and banking sector to 2008 levels within three years.

Colliers are predicting Bristol will see an 8.1 per cent increase in financial and business services jobs alone between now and 2016.

Tim Davies, Head of Office at Colliers International’s Bristol office, said: “Even allowing for the downsizing in the public sector the picture suggests a strong return to job creation. By 2016 the regional centres will have generated enough new employment to offset the downsizing that occurred in 2008.”

“The South West is one third behind London and the South East in terms of growing business activity. The capital is getting so expensive that many institutions are looking a lot more at regional opportunities.

“This will prompt businesses to look further afield, especially at cities such as Bristol, which has already seen a return to speculative development. There are clear opportunities for the refurbishment of existing stock as Grade A supply shortages begin to bite.”

"The benefits of business locations along the M4 and M5 motorway axis were well known and we are forecasting increased demand in the leading West hotspots from Avonmouth and North Bristol down to Exeter.”

“There is no doubt we are looking far stronger than we were four years ago and the signs are we will remain in the forefront of the recovery.

“We have seen the first speculative developments, which are key to encouraging business confidence. New occupiers are notoriously reluctant to commit off-plan, whereas Bristol will soon have some tangible developments for them to look at.

“Those cities where speculative development is underway are likely to benefit from firm commitments from inward investors.”

"Bristol City Centre office take up is already 42 per cent up on last year. A bias toward bigger deals in the 25,000 sq ft and upwards bracket rather than a large number of smaller deals in the 1-10,000 sq ft bracket also indicates that the sector had emerged strongly from the downturn.

“City centre take up remained close to 140,000 sq ft for each quarter so far in 2013. Q3 take up is 36 per cent above the five year average.

"Q3 saw five deals in excess of 10,000 sq ft, compared with only two this time last year. The largest of these was the letting of 39,000 sq ft to Veale Wasbrough Vizards at Narrow Quay House.

"The largest Grade A letting was Barclays acquisition of 18,759 sq ft at Bridgwater House in Finzels Reach.

“There has also been an improvement in the size of transactions completing this quarter with 36 per cent being above 5,000 sq ft. Professional, financial and the media sectors dominated the City Centre market in 2013.

“We have the infrastructure in place - whether terminal, roads, rail or warehousing, to ensure the region benefits from the increased business coming our way. We are already seeing a resurgence of the market rental and freehold figures that have been depressed for several years.

“This means that there are excellent investment opportunities in the market, especially with the national concerns that are seeking accommodation in the South West.

“With the likelihood of rental increases and a general undersupply of quality vacant stock there are opportunities for existing buildings to be refurbished, which could help address the imbalance between supply and demand.” 

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