Firms urged to spend on office space
A group of commercial property experts is calling on businesses to spend their cash on speculative office developments to deal with a shortage of work spaces for companies.
The Kent Developers Group has said it is time for the county to invest in new office, warehousing and distribution projects in light of data released by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS).
Its UK Commercial Market Survey said the availability of commercial property has fallen at its fastest rate since 1999, with 34% more surveyors reporting shortages.
The report also outlined sharp declines in the availability of office and industrial space, down 49% and 42% respectively.
Kent Developers Group – a collection of commercial and residential developers from across the county – has said those figures could get worse following changes to planning laws making it easier for commercial sites to be converted to residential property.
The RICS survey found the south saw the highest rise in the number of commercial properties being sold with so-called permitted development rights.
The group’s fears are backed up by research from Locate in Kent, which says the county has seen a 10% reduction in supply of industrial property since July 2012, particularly in terms of small and large industrial units.
The number of units over 100,000 sq ft which are available have fallen by nearly 45%. Those ranging from 5,000 sq ft to 10,000 sq ft have fallen by 23% in the last two years.
In contrast, demand for units of 5,000 sq ft to 10,000 sq ft has risen by 175% over the same period.
Locate in Kent chief executive Paul Wookey said: “Small-sized town centre offices are an important part of Kent’s property mix and we continue to see a growing demand for serviced offices by overseas businesses as the first step to planning their larger long-term investment into Kent.”