Leeds office market thriving, new data show

Figures released by the Leeds Office Agents’ Forum (LOAF) show that occupier activity in Leeds city centre rebounded in the first quarter of 2021, while the out-of-town office market saw one of the highest levels of take-up ever recorded.

The Leeds out-of-town commercial property market saw a stellar performance in the first quarter of 2021, surpassing all expectations. Activity was buoyed by the pre-letting of 133,111 sq ft to Lowell at Thorpe Park, pictured.

Over the first three months of 2021, the city centre office market saw a 17 per cent increase in transactional activity compared with the same period of 2020, with 168,996 sq ft of take-up across 18 deals recorded. There were five deals over 10,000 sq ft, the largest being the 89,000 sq ft pre-let to law firm DLA Piper at City Square House.

LOAF’s data show that three different serviced office providers – INC Spaces, Instant Offices and 2 Work – signed up to over 50,000 sq ft of space in Leeds city centre, illustrating the relevance of this sector as businesses seek more flexible ways of working.

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Jeff Pearey, of LOAF member JLL, said: “The improvement in occupier activity in the first quarter is particularly notable especially when compared to the same period last year. Q1 2020 was largely unaffected by Covid-19 as the first lockdown came in the last few days of the quarter, when the full extent of the pandemic was not known.

“It is a considerable show of confidence by DLA making this commitment to Leeds with their pre-let at the much-awaited City Square House, which heralds the redevelopment of this key missing part of the City Square jigsaw.

“We are seeing a considerable uptick in enquiry levels across all market sectors as businesses begin to return to the market to investigate availability and the number and frequency of new office viewings across the city centre is encouraging.”

LOAF’s data showed that 209,512 sq ft of office space, across 21 deals, was transacted across the out-of-town market in Q1 2021. The level of activity recorded over the first three months of the year is higher than the total amount seen across 2020 (172,627 sq ft) and nearly a five-fold increase compared with take-up in Q1 2020.

Adam Cockroft, of Cushman & Wakefield, which is also a LOAF member, said: “The Leeds out-of-town market saw a stellar performance in Q1 surpassing all expectations.

Activity was buoyed by the pre-letting of 133,111 sq ft to Lowell at Thorpe Park. After many months of negotiations, Lowell has signed this significant deal and will relocate from Leeds Valley Park to Thorpe Park, when their new state of the art office building is completed.

“21 deals in the out-of-town market is a huge expression of confidence in business park locations and underlines the continued relevance of easily accessible out-of-town offices as we move in to the ‘new normal’ of working practices, as lockdown eases.”

The Leeds Office Agents’ Forum is made up of Avison Young, BNP Paribas, Bowcliffe, Carter Towler, Carter Jonas, CBRE, Colliers International, Cushman & Wakefield, Eddisons, Fox Lloyd Jones, JLL, Knight Frank, Lambert Smith Hampton, OBI, Ryden, Sanderson Weatherall, Savills and WSB.