Leeds Office Agents’ Forum reports 2020 office take-up

123 Albion Street Leeds

New figures released by the Leeds Office Agents’ Forum (LOAF) show that occupier take-up in Leeds city centre reached 337,446 sq ft in 2020, a 55 per cent decrease compared with the previous year.

In the final three months of 2020, city centre office take-up reached 88,793 sq ft across 14 deals. There were two transactions over 10,000 sq ft – the largest was the letting to StepChange Debt Charity, who took 45,893 sq ft at 123 Albion Street.

LOAF’s data showed that 59,925 sq ft of office space, across 22 deals, was transacted across the out-of-town market in Q4 last year. Notable deals included the 9,300 sq ft freehold sale of Rofta House at Thorp Arch to Core Care Holdings.

In total, 172,627 sq ft was transacted across 2020 in the out-of-town market, a 38 per cent decrease compared to 2019, which was 280,524 sq ft.

Commenting on LOAF’s data, Jill Goodman from Avison Young said: “While it is no surprise that Covid-19 has had a major impact on how much office space was transacted in 2020, the longer-term prospects for the city’s office market remain robust, if not a little different. A number of businesses pressed the pause button on their office requirements and lease events, but we do expect most of these occupiers, including some north shoring requirements, to return to the market in 2021.“

“Without doubt the pandemic has given occupiers the opportunity to assess how they safely occupy their workplaces in the future, and we expect the tangible, longer term impact on the physical office to become clearer in the not-so-distant future.”

Given the lack of new build Grade A supply in both Leeds city centre and the out-of-town market, the Forum highlighted that the challenge is to not just to get more office space built, but to deliver the right workplaces for businesses in a post-Covid world.

Roddy Morrison from Colliers International, added: “The immediate office supply gap will largely be filled this year with high quality refurbishments in city centre schemes such as 12 King Street, where Opus is on site with its 54,000 sq ft grade A office refurbishment. Longer term, larger occupier requirements can be satisfied at ground up developments being progressed by MEPC; McLaren Property and McAleer & Rushe in the city’s core and by Vastint and CEG on the South Bank. With ESG and health and well-being the key priorities, developers and landlords will have to listen to, and understand, the needs of occupiers more than they ever did before and deliver buildings that will help to keep people safe as many businesses make a phased return back to the office.”

“We expect 2021 to be more robust; with vaccines being rolled out and a planned phased return to the office, local agents remain confident that requirements that have been put on hold will return and we anticipate stronger momentum by Q2 this year.”

The Leeds Office Agents’ Forum is made up of Avison Young, BNP Paribas, Bowcliffe, Carter Towler, Carter Jonas, CBRE, Colliers International, Cushman & Wakefield, Eddisons, Fox Lloyd Jones, JLL, Knight Frank, Lambert Smith Hampton, Ryden, Sanderson Weatherall, Savills and WSB.