Shortage of Grade A city centre offices

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Sheffield could be missing out on opportunities to attract major office occupiers, according to what is being hailed as the most detailed analysis ever undertaken of city centre business space.

Property consultants Knight Frank and Sheffield City Council’s economic development agency, Creative Sheffield have joined forces to create the Sheffield Office Stock Study.

The survey shows that just under 28 per cent of the 5,511,000 sq ft of space in 237 office buildings in the city centre is Grade A space.

A fifth of the space, spread over a total of 85 buildings, is not occupied.

Researchers divided the city up into 11 districts and found that letting activity was highest in what they defined as the Heart of the City with average annual take-up of 32,288 sq ft, followed by Cathedral Quarter - 26,264 sq ft a year - and Sheaf Valley - 22,202 sq ft.

Knight Frank partner Tim Bottrill said: “Vacancy rates have never been looked at in such detail. What it does show is that we have a significant amount of poor quality vacant office space, in locations that are no longer desirable for modern office users.

“The research also shows the city still needs to develop high quality Grade A product in the core city centre, where the demand is unmet and we are working with Creative Sheffield to provide innovative solutions to bring forward key sites in these difficult economic times.

“This availability rate will drop over the course of time, with unsuitable buildings potentially being redeveloped for alternative uses or to reflect the needs of city centre occupiers. Meanwhile, diminishing stock levels at the top end of the market could create positive pressure on rents and capital values.”

Ann Allen, head of investment and sector growth at Creative Sheffield said: “We are aware of demand for high quality Grade A office space in the core city centre for both inward investors looking at locating in the city, plus companies already here who would like to grow and relocate to better premises.”

Researchers photographed every office building in the city centre and added key information, including building size, quality, occupiers and space available, to a database. The database has been linked to web-based mapping software, providing planners and policymakers with a visual tool.