Impact on real estate
A rapidly expanding employment base is underpinning a new wave of expansion in London’s office markets. New records were set in the leasing markets in 2014, with 8.2m sq ft leased in the City of London. Reaffirming London’s status as one of the most important global centres for the creative, media, entertainment and tech industries, the capital has seen a general shift in occupier demand from west to east.
This in turn has been reflected in fast-rising office rents. The proportion of office take-up by creative and technology companies in the City of London was 17% in the year to June 2015, the same as the proportion taken by insurance and financial service companies.
However, it is worth noting that the banking sector has started to recover this year, and this means banking and finance companies currently account for 38% of current requirements across central London. A buoyant occupier market underpins record investment – London is the number one destination for cross-border investment into offices globally.
Rapid employment growth puts further pressure on London’s housing market. New housing supply has failed to meet the need and the pressure on living costs has continued to build. House prices in London have risen by 43%, and private sector rents by 19% over the last five years according to the ONS. Investment in transport improvements is essential to open up new parts of the city for housing development. Crossrail, an upgrade to Thameslink services and an extension to the Northern Line, is unlocking new development in the near term.
The focus of London government at present is ensuring that sufficient and affordable accommodation is provided to house London’s growing population. There is concern that a combination of high land prices, low industry capacity and a historic undersupply backlog will continue to thwart these intentions.
In this case, it seems likely that London’s travel to work area will expand as the population seeks accommodation further afield.
Under these circumstances, pressure will mount on transport systems. If not acted on, this may mean a decanting of talent to other UK towns and cities, or to overseas competitors, especially of the most footloose citizens.