Simon Jackson, Head of Commercial Property at Shulmans LLP writes: The commercial property sector in Yorkshire has had another successful year, with the development of pioneering projects, both in its cities and surrounding towns. In the heart of Leeds city centre, the Victoria Gate complex has transformed a dilapidated area of the city into a stunning retail complex and is home to John Lewis’ flagship Northern store. This new destination has businesses flocking to it, including Leeds’ only Michelin star restaurant, The Man Behind the Curtain.
There has been similar regeneration in other areas of Leeds at Regent Street, where a garage has been developed into a mixed-use retail and leisure site housing an Aldi, PureGym and Poundland. Investment continues in other towns across the region too. A significant leisure development in Harrogate, where we advised 4Urban, has brought the spa town a five screen Everyman cinema and several new restaurants.
The demand for offices in Yorkshire’s cities continues to increase. However, lease terms and tenant requirements vary by sector, driven by the competing economic needs of the landlord and the occupier. At one end of the spectrum, there’s a growing demand for flexibility on lease length and terms. Driven by start-ups, especially in the FinTech sector, the entrepreneurial spirit of Yorkshire means new business owners are seeking cost-effective offices capable of expanding with their business, or which will allow them to move easily. This drives demand for short term leases, serviced offices and temporary facilities.
In contrast, manufacturing, industrial and large professional services firms are looking for long leases with permanency as they take potentially prohibitive moving costs into account. Although the ability to grow and proximity to essentials such as transport links are still key, a sense of community in workplaces and added value are becoming more important. Shulmans’ office, developed by MEPC at Wellington Place, is an example of this, offering the business community additional activities such as a workplace choir, food and craft markets, sports facilities and even a knitting club!
Overall, general confidence in the commercial property sector across Yorkshire has continued to rise. Although there are challenges ahead, particularly with the uncertainty that Brexit brings, we at Shulmans are confident that the Yorkshire region will continue to flourish as an investment hub. It is a hub for the legal sector and is attracting work from London and other commercial centres, enabling clients to access high quality advice and affordable pricing structures.
Key to the success of all of this is for law firms and other professionals to continue to engage with clients in a way that focusses on their objectives and challenges; to think creatively in terms of the solutions and strategies that are available; and to deliver good commercial advice that adds value and gets deals and transactions over the line.