Nottingham’s A-Grade Office Space Shortage Set to Impact on City Growth
22nd June 2017
Nottingham city centre as a base for growing and established businesses is at risk. We’re not being sensationalist here – we’re looking at the facts following a continual decline in Nottingham’s A-Grade office space
Week after week, month after month, prime office stock being turned into residential accommodation – usually for students. Whilst we appreciate the value and vibrancy that students bring to Nottingham – they very rarely stick around after graduation.
Could it have something to do with the dearth of “big-ticket” jobs on offer in Nottingham? The last big inward investment in Nottingham was nearly 25 years ago, when the then Inland Revenue moved to city, creating thousands of jobs. We have to ask ourselves the question: where would you move your business to in Nottingham in 2017?
We’ve been speaking lately to several big employers in the city centre – some of whom have wanted to move offices (but not leave Nottingham) for years. They simply have nowhere to go, and they feel abandoned by the Council’s inward investment team who are seemingly only interested in luring investors and companies up from London. These occupiers don’t want to leave Nottingham city centre, but they will follow others onto out-of-town business parks if their voices aren’t heard.
The value of professional services to Nottingham city centre has been estimated at £396m. To lose this would be catastrophic for Nottingham.
Each year the great and good of the inward investment and commercial property sectors head off to Cannes to fight the good fight at MIPIM and we see social media posts of “packed rooms” while a keynote speaker repeats the same mantra… mainly to people from Nottingham and the wider East Midlands.
Talk is great if only it’s backed up with actions. Look at Manchester to see the effect that Howard Bernstein had on the city. He set out a vision, and he empowered others to realise it. Nottingham desperately needs someone to do the same – and quick. In the absence of a Howard Bernstein figure, then the City Council need to act.
That doesn’t just mean building hundreds of thousands of square feet of glass-fronted buildings (although those would be nice!), but also encouraging landlords to invest in their office stock, rather than give up on it and turn towards the short-termism of residential. Be creative; introduce grants, loans and business rates holidays for landlords who are willing to put their money where their mouth is and invest in office stock.
With growing confidence and activity, developers would have the confidence to start building the new offices Nottingham so desperately needs. We have no Grade A stock to offer major companies and its shameful.
And to complete the circle, once the city can provide more office space, then those larger businesses (often in the professional services sector) who want new – or different – office stock will stay in the city, securing jobs and wealth for Nottingham.
The choice is stark: either focus on regenerating the city core and increase the amount of A-Grade office space or abandon it completely and focus on becoming the UK’s premier student city!!