A £90 million regeneration scheme in Egham is being heralded as the catalyst for a revival of the office market in the university town in the Borough of Runnymede in Surrey
Property consultancy Vail Williams puts the upturn down to the now completed major mixed-use development at Magna Square, which comprises more than 100 new apartments with affordable housing provision and retail space.
The development, managed by Places for People on behalf of Runnymede Borough Council, has delivered a high-quality public realm connecting it to the rest of the town centre.
It plays host to a four-screen Everyman cinema, a new Budgens store, 67 private apartments and 34 affordable homes, plus an additional 10,700 sq ft of new commercial space at ground floor level.
One of the new-build residential blocks also provides 100 rooms for students studying at nearby Royal Holloway, University of London.
Charlie Nicholson, Vail Williams Partner and Surrey office market expert, said: “We believe Egham is on the cusp of an office market resurgence, thanks in part to this multimillion-pound town centre regeneration project.
“It has delivered a vibrant 15-minute neighbourhood which has resulted in increased footfall in the town centre, owing to the mix of residential and student accommodation, and a much-improved retail and leisure provision.
“This, together with Magna Square, has created a much more desirable place for which business to locate, and the office rents aren’t too bad either.
“Sitting at around £30 per sq ft for Grade A space, Egham is particularly cost-effective for the smaller occupier, where Staines has increased to £39.50 psf and Windsor is at mid-£40s psf.
“It has all the benefits of being situated in proximity to but not directly on the Thames (with the rental increases that river frontage brings), and benefits from a range of smaller office suites which is perfect for the SME occupier.
“Situated next to the M25 and with direct train services to Richmond, Clapham Junction, Waterloo and Reading all within 40 minutes reach, it has a lot to offer the more than 63,000 businesses currently located in Surrey.
“There is still very much an owner-occupier and leasehold market here and those businesses located here are doing well.
“Indeed, many are now starting to see many upsize their office requirements here, including CDN Consular Services Ltd which is seeking to expand its presence in Egham with the purchase of Heritage House, significantly increasing their footprint in Egham. In turn we are currently selling Runnymede House for them.”
Over the last ten years, Egham had suffered the loss of some business occupiers who moved out of the town in favour of other locations, such as Staines, with a significant proportion of the town’s offices going for residential conversion or redevelopment, or alternative use, but that trend was now reversing.
The last two office sales have been to owner occupiers looking to invest in their own office building and create an exciting environment for staff returning to the workplace.
Charlie added: “A strong current opportunity that we have just launched to the market is Virginia House, in Station Road, Egham. Perfect for either an owner occupier looking to take control of their own workplace, or possible residential conversion or alternative uses such as a medical clinic.
“Smaller occupiers seeking a value for money location with excellent transport links to the City should consider Egham as a place to locate.
“It represents good value for money in rental terms, whilst boasting excellent transport links and a range of new retail and leisure amenities for staff to enjoy.
“For astute investors and landlords seeking to invest in office stock, Egham could also represent an opportunity to deliver a good return – provided they invest in the delivery of a high-quality asset.
Cllr Tom Gracey, Leader of Runnymede Borough Council, said: “In just a few years, we have revitalised this part of the historic town, ushering in a new era of Egham’s development.
“We’re proud that the success of this development is attracting people to live and work in Egham, encouraging new business to move in, and that more residents are able to benefit from the greater quality of life that our Borough offers.”