Crane survey shows surge in new London offices

By Niamh Marriott15 December 2021

The number of new office starts in central London surged in the five months to September, according to Deloitte’s latest London Office Crane Survey, taking the total amount of development coming through to 3.4 million square feet.

Deloitte's crane survey results

This is a significant increase on the long-term five-month average of 2.4 million square feet.

“[The surge in office starts] is down to a number of factors including confidence of developers for the need for grade A space, improved leasing and potentially some schemes needing to be implemented to preserve planning [permissions],” said Mike Cracknell, a director in the real estate team at Deloitte, adding that the average scheme size increased by 28 per cent during the period.

The West End saw the largest number of new starts, accounting for 44.4 % of the total, followed by the City (33.3 %), Midtown (11.1 %), King’s Cross (7.4 %) and Docklands (3.8 %) – there were no new starts in Southbank and Paddington.

“There were a couple of specific schemes starting outside of the predominant areas for office development, for example in King’s Cross and Docklands, which is a little surprising,” said Cracknell.

In addition to the number of new builds increasing for the third consecutive crane survey, the number of refurbishments also grew, accounting for 54 % of all new starts during the period, compared with 44 % in Deloitte’s 2018 survey.

Refurb preferred

“The survey shows refurbishments are preferred over new builds,” said Cracknell.

“This is likely to be driven by the fact they are quicker to build and potentially cheaper, as demolishing and rebuilding the frame is not required.”

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