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Bristol Office Market Defies Lockdown for Strong Finish

The city of Bristol has ‘bucked the national trend’, maintaining rents and enjoying a good level of take-up according to comments made by the Bristol Office Agents Society.

Giving a promising outlook for the year ahead, Bristol’s City Centre market saw a much better than predicted, 24 deals complete in the final quarter of 2020 (take-up of 175,106 sq ft). While this figure falls behind the 5-year average for the period, given the outlook earlier in the year in light of the pandemic, the results are surprising.

Simon Price, Partner and Head of Agency at Alder King commented: “Against the backdrop of Covid and the resulting lockdowns the Bristol office market delivered a very creditable performance during 2020 boosted by strong Q4 take-up. Unlike other regional cities Bristol remains very short on supply which has helped to maintain headline rents at pre-covid levels. The outlook for the first half of 2021 also looks encouraging with a number of significant transactions already under negotiation”.

Bristol Office Society has revealed that the total annual take-up reached 506,293sq ft, which is not far behind the city’s 10-year annual average.

Throughout the year, headline rents for the city centre have remained stable, although it’s important to consider that COVID has resulted in slightly more favourable incentives for tenants, such as longer rent-free periods.

In addition to strong take-up, Bristol has also seen a good level of commitment to new development in the city centre. Schemes such as CEG’s (Commercial Estates Group) ‘EQ’ and Nord’s ‘One Portwall Square‘ have started on site this year and will provide 220,000sq ft between them.

Commenting on the numbers, Avison Young’s director in Office Agency, Paul Williams added: “As the figures demonstrate, despite the increase in working from home, the office market in Bristol remains robust, underlined by CEG’s decision to press the button on EQ, which will be one of the largest speculative schemes to have been undertaken in the city and is a vote of confidence in both Bristol and the future of the office. Coupled with the growth of the flex sector one of the interesting trends of 2021 will be Bristol’s status as an attractive relocation destination, with its now only 68-minute commute to London potentially emphasising its attractiveness compared to more northern cities’.

While Bristol’s city centre enjoyed resilient to impressive results, the out of town market experienced a quieter finish to the year with Q4 take-up reaching 53,806sq ft (258,200 sq ft annual).

Featured Image: Commercial Estates Group’s ‘EQ’ building in Bristol

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