Ups and downs of Bath office market

The lack of good quality commercial property in Bath could be prompting firms to look outside of the city for new offices, warehouses and small business premises, according to sector specialists Bruton Knowles.

Paul Williams – whose West Country patch includes the Georgian tourism hotspot, said: “The news that one of Bath’s last remaining sixties office blocks is to make way for a new hotel is unlikely to upset too many people – least of all in the commercial property world – but its loss does represent another significant reduction in the amount of commercial space available in the city.”

Eight storey Kingsmead House on James Street West towers above the busy road junction which links the city centre to the Green Park station complex.

The slab-sided concrete and glass office block – typical of the high-rise horrors which were thrown up in the sixties – is to be demolished for a new 177-bedroom city centre hotel.

Paul Williams said: “Empty for six years and more, Kingsmead House was unlikely to have been re-occupied even if the faster than anticipated economic recovery continues until the end of the decade and beyond.

“Few people in Bath – or elsewhere – will mourn its passing.”

But the demolition of Kingsmead House will at a stroke remove the best part of 10,000 sq ft of office space from Bath’s already constricted commercial property portfolio.

“Although there is still ample space in and around Bristol, especially out of town, commercial property in the centre of Bath is becoming increasingly hard to find and will inevitably begin to compromise business moves and new starts in the city.

“Kingsmead House might not quite fit the bill in terms of today’s usual office requirements, but on the other hand it is not immediately obvious where companies heading to Bath hotspot will look instead.”

The centre of Bath has seen no significant office development for more than two decades and is constrained by planning policy, and simple geography, and the resultant lack of Grade A space has resulted in a number of Bath companies being forced to consider relocating to Bristol and beyond in order to secure suitable office premises as they grow their business.

Paul Williams concluded: “Put simply, office accommodation – whether it’s good bad or ugly – is in increasing short supply in Bath.”