North West England

Despite its long-standing reputation as a manufacturing centre, the North West of England has adapted itself to the changing global economy, developing new and thriving industry sectors and becoming a very attractive business location. According to business lobbying organisation CBI, there are more than 250,000 businesses established in this region, and this figure keeps growing year after year.

Key office locations in North West England

Manchester

Manchester is one of the UK's prime office locations and the country's second largest office property market. The office accommodation market is reaching the point of under-supply, especially when it comes to Grade A office space, whose availability has been declining since 2009. At the end of 2012, there were only 83,000 square feet of Grade A space available, whereas active demand exceeded 100,000 square feet. Total office stock in the city is in the region of 19 million square feet and the current vacancy rate is just over 9 per cent for Grade B space and 2.7 per cent for Grade A accommodation.

In 2013, total take-up amounted to 859,809 square feet, which represents a 12 per cent increase over the previous year. Most deals involved offices of 2,500 square feet and under, and the majority of transactions involved companies in the professional services, TMT, and finance sectors. Headline rents (currently averaging £29.50 per square foot) are expected to remain stable during 2014.

Office space available in Manchester

There are five areas that have been earmarked for future development, including St Peter's Square (over 200,000 square feet), NoMa, Spinningfields, Piccadilly, and Core. Together, they will add more than 400,000 square feet to the city's current office stock.

Liverpool

Liverpool is often listed as one of the UK's top-ten best cities for businesses looking to relocate. The city's office market is split into three main areas: the central business district (CBD), the city fringe, and out-of-town accommodation. During 2013, total take-up rates amounted to 534,100 square feet, 59 per cent of which involved offices in the CBD. Office space in Liverpool is highly sought-after by companies in the creative, digital, and media sector, which have clustered in city fringe locations like the Baltic Triangle. Approximately 21 per cent of last year's deals were closed by companies in these sectors, which mostly seek small offices of 1,000 square feet and under.

Office space available in Liverpool

As the availability of Grade A accommodation continues to dwindle, occupiers have been turning to refurbished Grade B office space. In 2013, there were more than 586,000 square feet of secondary office stock in the city. 2013 saw total take-up rates of 316,000 square feet in the central business district, nearly 60,000 square feet in the city fringe, and 157,000 square feet in out-of-town locations. As for rental values, they have remained mostly unchanged since 2011. Headline rents average £21 per square feet for new office space and £17 per square feet for secondary space.

The Liverpool Waters project is one of the most important office developments to be completed in the near future. This is a 60-hectare development which will include a large Enterprise Zone. Businesses moving into this development can expect to benefit from governmental incentives like 100 per cent business rate discounts.

Warrington

The third largest city in the North West of England has come a long way in terms of diversifying its economic base. Today, Warrington has the country's seventh largest private sector and is an important hub for businesses in the energy and nuclear sectors. Approximately 9 per cent of the North West's Top 500 companies are headquartered in Warrington.

The local council has developed an ambitious regeneration plan in order to suit the needs of businesses moving into the city. It is expected that this plan will add a further 1,300 acres of redeveloped office and business space by 2030. Similarly, the Warrington Means Business strategy has designated other areas for business growth, including the Daresbury Science park and Enterprise zone, Parkside, Woolston Grange, the Winwick Road corridor, Gemini, and Lingley Mere.

In the meantime, the amount of office space available keeps growing. During 2012, more than 85,500 square feet were made available, mostly in the form of refurbished space. The following year, 134,000 square feet of office space were developed at the Omega site, a project that has also been backed up by the local council, which recently granted a £7.5 million loan to continue developing the site.

Office space available in Warrington

In 2013, 20,000 square feet of office space were taken up in Warrington. The average size for each deal was 556 square metres. The majority of the transactions involved offices in Birchwood business park and in Centre Park. Average rents were down to £161,50 per square metre.