Thriving local economy underpins Bristol’s desirability as a place to live, work and study

According to a new report from commercial real estate firm Avison Young, the Bristol economy is expected to grow by 8.9% over the next five years, significantly outpacing the rest of the UK, where growth of 6.9% is predicted.

The city’s thriving economy is driven primarily by the expansion of its knowledge industries, including artificial intelligence and life sciences. Bristol’s information and communication sector alone is projected to grow by 12.9% by 2028, closely followed by its science and tech sector, which is expected to see 10.6% growth.

This positive outlook is also translating into new employment opportunities, the report finds. According to data from Oxford Economics, Bristol is projected to see jobs growth of 5.7% over the next five years – higher than the national prediction of 3.1% – with professional, scientific, and technical skills a key employment growth area.

Bristol’s economic and employment growth potential is a hugely positive sign for businesses, workers, and the wider real estate sector, with both GVA (gross value added) and job growth expected to create new leasing opportunities for offices, hospitality, and retail properties.

Alongside its short-term economic forecast, the city’s rich cultural offering and attractiveness to students has long placed it on the map as a desirable place to live, work and study. But this has, in turn, led to the significant undersupply of quality housing and affordable home-ownership options for residents.

The city also has the largest office market in the south of England after London, totalling 14m sq. ft. of floorspace. Its excellent talent pool, coupled with its strengths in the knowledge industries, has attracted significant occupiers to the city in recent decades, which will continue to drive its position as a hotspot for investment.

The launch of Avison Young’s Bristol Outlook report was preceded by an event in the city on 23rd January, featuring panel discussions with key regional decision-makers, including Councillor Asher Craig, Deputy Mayor at Bristol City Council, on the current and emerging growth opportunities in the city.

Sarah-Jane Osborne, Regional Managing Director for Bristol at Avison Young UK, said:

“From its thriving science, technology, and digital industries to the projected growth of employment opportunities over the next five years, Bristol is a city with great potential and firm foundations for investment opportunities.

“With high-value sector strengths, a large development pipeline, and world-class research facilities attracting talent to the city, it’s encouraging to see its economy being steered by the knowledge industries – strengthening its proposition for investors and generating new employment opportunities for residents. As we move forward in 2024 and beyond, the importance of collaboration between the public and private sectors to create a prosperous and sustainable future for the city cannot be understated.”

Councillor Asher Craig, Deputy Mayor at Bristol City Council, said:

“As part of our One City approach, we are working hard to connect communities around the impressive future-facing developments we’re seeing emerge in Bristol. I want to hear that our communities are enjoying the benefits of this investment on their doorsteps. Our ask of the private sector is to work with us in partnership to ensure that opportunities are made visible and available to our local communities.”

Barra Mac Ruairi, Chief Property Officer at the University of Bristol, said:

“The development pipeline we see today in the city is a product of the collective confidence we’ve demonstrated over the last few years. We’ve continued to attract and secure significant investment across Bristol and the region, collective leadership and understanding has been underpinned through the One City approach.

“The Temple Quarter Regeneration is an active example of Bristol’s collaboration and we’re proud to be playing our part, as the University continues to invest in our facilities to meet the needs of our local, national and global endeavour.”

Pete Gladwell, Group Social Impact and Investment Director at Legal and General, said:

“It’s brilliant to see social impact and investment coming together in the Bristol property market to create a One City vision that aligns both priorities and delivers value for communities. There are lots of exciting projects ongoing, including work on the Temple Quarter, where this idea of delivering on both objectives is really coming to fruition in the creation of an inclusive, future-facing district of the city.”

Karl Brown, FRSA and Founder/Chairperson at Bristol Property Inclusion Charter, said:

“I’m really excited about the changing face of Bristol – in particular, businesses having more of a focus on social impact and collaboration to ensure that they’re not only focused on profit but on bringing the city with them and encouraging diversity and inclusion. It’s encouraging to see social value embedded within planning and development, not something that’s considered to be within the fringes.”