Latest data shows positive start to office market activity in Leeds

The Leeds Office Agents’ Forum (LOAF) has released its quarterly office take-up figures for the Leeds office market which, for the first three months of 2014, show a positive start to the year.

Activity in Leeds city centre for the first quarter (Q1 2014) reached 140,778 sq ft across 41 deals. Whilst this is a 40% decrease in take-up compared to the same period last year the Forum points to Q1 2013 being exceptionally high by Leeds’ standards and the start to 2014 signals continuing confidence in the market. The largest office letting in Q1 2014 was University of Law’s relocation from York to 15 – 16 Park Row agreeing to 26,337 sq ft of space.

Matthew Tootell, director from GVA and spokesperson for the LOAF, said: “2013 set a real precedent as Leeds recorded the best office take-up for over 15 years – levels we are unlikely to repeat at present given relatively constrained stock levels. That said, the completion of 41 city centre transactions in the first three months is extremely healthy, though we are still finding that deals continue to take time to complete.”

Grade A supply continues to become more constrained although the Forum points to the upcoming practical completions at Evan’s Minerva, MEPC’s 10 Wellington Place and later in 2014, Formal Investments’ 21 Queen Street, which will help address this. Other office refurbishments will also add to the supply chain over the year.

Matthew Tootell added: “Developers are well aware of the supply/demand imbalance and the question on everyone’s lips is when we will see a return of speculative or largely speculative development.”

By comparison the out-of-town market was more subdued in Q1 2014 with take-up of 35,264 sq ft, a 63% decrease compared with the same period last year. In total, 13 deals completed in the first quarter with Halcrow Group’s acquisition of 10,957 sq ft at Headingley Office Park being the largest.

Matthew Tootell concluded: “The strong end to last year’s out-of-town activity has helped improve confidence and, whilst we have seen a slower start in 2014, there are a substantial number of enquiries now circling which we anticipate will improve activity over the coming year.”

The Leeds Office Agents’ Forum was established, by the leading property consultancy firms based in Leeds, to collate and distribute definitive market information. Its members are BNP Paribas, Carter Towler, CBRE, Colliers International, DTZ, Eddisons, GVA, JLL, Knight Frank, Lambert Smith Hampton, Ryden, Sanderson Weatherall, Savills and WSB.