One to Watch 2014: Leeds
With a City Region economy worth ┬ú55billion*, Leeds has long been a force to reckon with among the UKΓÇÖs major cities. As the economy continues to strengthen, we take a look at why itΓÇÖs one of our ones to watch for 2014.
Leeds: Building on a Strong 2013
2013 was a year of big developments for Leeds. The opening of the Trinity Leeds Shopping Centre reinforced its position as the luxury shopping capital of the North, while the redevelopment of ┬áMerrion House scored the biggest office pre-let in the city for twenty years, as the City Council agreed to take 170,000 sq ft of space.
The year ahead will see yet more new developments including the creation of another new shopping centre and further additions to the Arena Quarter, as well as the commencement and completion of several office developments which will seek to address the shortage of Grade A space within the city.
HS2 will also be a factor. Although the route is not due for completion until 2033, like Birmingham and Manchester, Leeds is already looking at plans to make the most of the economic opportunities which the high-speed route will bring. Once up and running, it will reduce journey times to London from 132 minutes to 82 minutes, and to Birmingham from 118 minutes to 57 minutes, making the Leeds more accessible to the rest of the UK than ever before.
Leeds Businesses: On the Hunt for High-Grade Space
According to the Leeds Office AgentsΓÇÖ Forum (LOAF), office take up levels in the city in 2013 were the highest for fifteen years. However, the forum also pointed out that this high level of activity has depleted stock of Grade A office space considerably.
This demand for high-grade space has been mirrored in the serviced office industry. Data from officebroker has revealed that by the end of 2013 the average price per desk per month had increased by ┬ú50 on the previous year; driven by more businesses moving into higher grade space. This trend is likely to continue in 2014 and suggests more established businesses moving into or within the city centre.
Meanwhile, officebrokerΓÇÖs Alastair Maloney has pointed out that as with Birmingham, ΓÇ£there is likely to be an increased need for serviced office space for projects relating to the new transport link,ΓÇ¥ as the city prepares for the arrival of HS2.
On the map:
- Financial Quarter: This area of the city, which is home to a range of Blue Chip companies including RSM Tenon, Sky, and PwC, underwent important changes in 2013 and is to be the site of several Grade A office developments in 2014. The council approved two new office buildings on Wellington Place towards the end of 2013. Together, these will bring seven storeys of new Grade A space to the city centre. Meanwhile, 10 Wellington Place ΓÇô the first new-build office development in the city for five years at the time building work commenced ΓÇô is due to reach completion in May this year. Another new office building on Queen Street will create a further 70,000 sq ft of space within the Financial Quarter.
- Holbeck Urban Village: On the creative front, Holbeck Urban Village is still a key location for design and media companies. A further 100,000 sq ft of Grade A office space is to be created on the site this year, if plans by developer Oakapple are approved.
- New Dock: On the fringes of the Cultural Quarter, the renamed and rebranded Clarence Dock area of the city is to become a hub for the tech and digital sector, as developer Allied London pushes ahead with its plans for the 1.2m sq ft scheme.
*ONS Data 2012, via Centre for Cities Outlook 2014
Do you run a business in Leeds? How do you rate the cityΓÇÖs prospects for 2014 and beyond?
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