South East England

The South East of England is one of the country's most prosperous regions, since it has the UK's second highest GVA per capita. In fact, the region's economy is only second to London, boasting a highly diversified industry base. This makes the South East a very desirable location for business owners and one of the country's prime destinations for those in search of office accommodation.

Key office locations in the South East

Milton Keynes

Milton Keynes has the region's highest business density and one of the country's highest start-up rates. The city's thriving economy prompted the development of vast amounts of office space, and currently has more than 630,000 square metres of office stock. The city mostly attracts companies in the financial, telecommunications, R&D, and business services sectors, such as KPMG, Santander, and BT.

However, demand for prime office space in the city continues to outstrip supply, and in May 2014, the city experienced record-breaking occupancy rates of 94 per cent. Total take-up rates for 2013 were in excess of 207,000 square feet. However, over the past year, only 135,000 square feet of new office space became available, pushing average rents to £21 per square foot for prime space and £13 per square foot for secondary space. Although recent developments like Magna park have helped meet the needs of local businesses, it is expected that demand for office space will continue to grow and that by 2016, a further 500 acres will be required.

Some of the largest business centres in the area include Cranfield University technology park, which offers serviced office space ranging from 280 to 30,000 square feet; the Midsummer Boulevard area; Caldecotte Lake business park, a 200,000-square feet office development; and The Pinnacle, a brand new city centre development.

Office space available in Milton Keynes

Oxford

A 2013 market watch report published by Savills pointed at Oxford's chronic short supply of prime office space. Take up rates were up by 23 per cent in 2013, when more than 131,000 square feet of office space were let. Newly built office developments, such as the Oxford Science Park, are operating at or near full capacity. In 2013, more than 144,000 square feet of office space were taken up in the area, and although availability has increased by 15 per cent, this mainly concerns second-hand office space, which constitutes 96 per cent of Oxford's total supply.

Due to the scarce availability of city centre offices, business owners are increasingly turning to office space in areas like Abingdon and Witney, where more than 50,000 square feet of office floorspace were let last year.

Office space available in Oxford

This situation has inevitably resulted in higher average rents, which currently stand at £24 per square foot for grade A space in out of town locations. In the city centre, average rents are in the region of £25 per square foot.

Reading

According to a report published in 2013 by the Centre for Cities, Reading is one of the UK's most important hubs of office-based employment. Some of the region's most important employers are headquartered here, including ING Direct, Microsoft, and Thames Water.

The office market in Reading is characterised by a shortage of large grade A office units, as most companies based in the area have requirements of 20,000 square feet and above. The vast majority of office accommodation is located out of town, a market that accounts for over 80 per cent of the total take-up rates in Reading. Currently, city centre rents average £27.50 per square foot, whereas out-of-town locations average £30 per square foot.

Office space available in Reading

Private developers seem to dominate speculative office developments. Europa Capital and Ediston Properties have recently completed a 52,000-square feet office building in Reading, whereas Hermes and Bell Hammer have just added the 77,000 square feet of office space to the city.

Basingstoke

Basingstoke's excellent location and low rental values have turned this Hampshire city into a strategic business location, mainly for companies in the IT, finance, business support, and communications industries. As of 2013, total office stock in Basingstoke was around the 150,000 square feet mark. Availability is good, with vacancy rates of 28 per cent.

Office space available in Basingstoke

The city's potential as a prime office location has attracted the attention of the local authorities, who have launched a 20-year economic development plan that will include the development of flexible office space and of business incubation spaces. Private developer Muse will deliver 650,000 square feet of new office space over the next decade. Muse is also behind the development of the 65-acre site at Basing View. The Viables business park is another important office development due to be completed soon.