- By Region
The UK’s fast-growing towns, such as Reading and Aldershot, are suffering from a shortage of office space that could stunt the country’s future growth, a report has warned.
At the same time, weaker economies such as Bolton and Blackburn have seen the most growth in floorspace despite having feebler demand.
The Centre for Cities, backed by the British Council for Offices, said there was a “striking mismatch” between where offices were needed and where they were being built.
They found that eight of 10 fast-growing medium-sized towns and cities had seen below-average growth in office space over the past decade, including Cambridge, Oxford, Peterborough, Northampton, Cardiff and Milton Keynes. Only York and Crawley had seen above-average growth.
Across these towns and cities it costs on average 50 per cent per square metre more than the national average to lease an office for a year, but supply has not responded to demand.
The report says the shortfall has been caused partly by lack of land supply and planning approval, and partly because developers see big cities, with a larger pool of existing occupiers, as less risky than smaller fast-growth centres.
It urges towns and cities to work more closely with neighbouring authorities to maximise choice for developers and businesses, raise their profile with national property agents and work with existing businesses to assess future needs.
“Local government and the property industry must work together to address this issue as a priority,” said Andrew Carter, director of policy at the Centre for Cities.