Uncategorised 6 December 2019

Grade A office supply is key to unlocking Liverpool’s business growth

By Downing

By John Clegg, head of property management at Downing

Liverpool is a city on the rise – having recently been ranked as one of the UK’s best cities for economic growth potential. According to the Office for National Statistics, the city region is also the fastest-growing Combined Authority area in England.

This impressive growth has acted as a catalyst for new investment, triggering an all-time high employment rate that has been boosted by some of the UK’s biggest brands choosing to relocate their HQs to the city, the most recent being national retailer Park Group.

The latest Liverpool City Region commercial market office review, published by Professional Liverpool, revealed that the office take-up in Liverpool increased by 96% in 2018 compared with 2013, with overall office take-up in the city centre hitting more than 700,000 sq ft.

While this demand is good news, it also highlights the city’s chronic shortage grade A office space.

At the start of 2019, only 336,000 sq ft of office space was available for immediate occupation – and none of this was grade A. This squeeze on high-quality, accessible workspace has been a major obstacle for the city’s growth in recent years and remains key to unlocking the region’s true economic potential.

Liverpool City Council recently announced plans for a Spatial Regeneration Framework (SRF) which aims to boost the city’s supply of grade A workspace. The SRF plans to deliver up to two million sq ft of new commercial space over the next 15 years through the identification of 12 key sites as areas for potential expansion.

Other initiatives, such as the Commercial District BID, through their 2016-21 business plan, are investing large amounts of money and resources in an effort to improve the working environment in the commercial heart of the city.

As part of a drive to supply this growing demand, Downing has recently transformed the upper ground floor of our landmark No.1 Old Hall Street building into a brand new 5,100 sq ft grade A office suite. Situated directly opposite Moorfields station, the internal and external refurbishment features full height glazing overlooking Old Hall Street and creates a statement entrance directly accessed from the newly refurbished reception space and the building’s new feature entrance arch portal.

The reception upgrades include a new communal open meeting space, concierge lobby,  male, female and accessible WCs and is completed with new shower facilities.

Wholesale façade works will commence in the New Year, as will an upgrade to the building’s power supply.

The refurbishment forms part of a wider programme of upgrades to the building’s grade A offering.  The next phase of work will see a new suite of 10,100 sq ft created by spring 2020, immediately followed by further units of 6,600 sq ft and 4,200 sq ft delivered in phases, creating a combined total of 26,000 sq ft of new grade A workspace in the heart of Liverpool’s commercial district.

The new suites will be complemented by our existing flexi-suite offering in the building, as well as a secure 24-hour access car park along with an on-site management team that offer a number of streamlined, business-friendly letting options for tenants.

While this is only a drop in the ocean compared to the two million sq ft that the council hopes to eventually supply, it’s a start of the solution to providing Liverpool professionals with a first-class environment to excel in.

According to data from both Companies House and ONS, there have been 11,451 new enterprises set up in Liverpool in the last year alone and this growth is showing no signs of slowing down.

By creating better places to work, we can help to facilitate business growth and drive inward investment and job creation across the city. This step-change in Liverpool’s office economy will deliver a vibrant urban environment with improved connections and a sustainable supply of workspace to enable economic prosperity.

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