Out of town offices to play ‘important’ role in economic recovery

A Yorkshire developer and investment firm believes the out-of-town office market will have an important role to play in the economic recovery as businesses adopt new flexible ways of working.

Helmsley Group's Arabesque House on the outskirts of York. Picture: Giles Rocholl
Helmsley Group's Arabesque House on the outskirts of York. Picture: Giles Rocholl

York-based Helmsley Group believes many companies will relocate out of town or introduce work from home policies as a cost-saving measure in the future.

Chairman John Reeves said: “The technology available today means it’s not essential for us to all work out of the same office, so many companies will see relocating out of town or introducing work from home policies as a way to reduce costs in uncertain economic times.

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“Ease of access and ability to drive into work will also be motivating factors for companies choosing to relocate out of town.”

The group recently refurbished Arabesque House at Monks Cross on the outskirts of York.

Existing tenants include the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency, Drivespeed Group, TCS John Huxley, Eurofins and Anytime Fitness.

Savills and Bowcliffe have been appointed as joint agents to market the remaining space.

Tom Sykes, asset manager at Helmsley, said: “Demand for out of town office space is undoubtedly set to increase as businesses adopt new and flexible ways of working in the aftermath of the coronavirus pandemic.

“Additionally, high quality, modern office space with adequate parking provision is scarce, particularly in York which boasts many historic buildings and has seen the majority of available accommodation being turned into much needed housing.”

The commercial property market has almost come to a standstill over the last few months and the post-covid office market is expected to look very different, with out of town locations that include parking expected to become more popular.

Sunny Bank, an out-of-town family-owned mill, has been extensively renovated to provide space for small and medium-sized businesses.

Altogether 70 companies are now on site, creating 350 new and sustainable jobs.

Adam Karnacz recently moved his photographic and video company, First Man Photography, into a studio at 10 Old Combing in the heart of the complex in Farsley, Leeds.

He said: “Lockdown has been extremely challenging.

“My usual commercial work, workshops, tours, talks and shoots have all be postponed or cancelled.

“Now, taking the space at Sunny Bank will allow me to create content in a dedicated space and to a higher quality.”

John Gaunt (pictured), joint managing director of Edwin Woodhouse, the owner of Sunny Bank Mills, said: “The Covid-19 pandemic has turned the whole world upside down, with the commercial property market almost grinding to a halt.”

He added: “We have been striving to make Sunny Bank an inspirational place to be for over ten years now and this is paying dividends, as people are now slowly thinking about returning to their workplace.”