Industrial building driving UK construction growth, latest RICS survey shows

Taylor Scott International News

Industrial building is driving construction growth in the UK and the country’s office and industrial sector rents are expected to rise as their fastest rate since 1998 in the last quarter of 2014. Indeed, the UK has seen a sixth consecutive quarterly fall in office space availability nationwide with the decline at its fastest pace since the late 1990s according to the latest Commercial Market Survey from the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS). It also shows that the rise in transactions of commercial properties being sold with Permitted Development Rights (PDR) appears to be compounding the lack of availability, with two thirds of respondents to the survey suggesting that if PDR exemptions are not extended then availability of commercial properties will be impacted further. In London, 20% of respondents said PDR transactions had led to more than 10% of available commercial properties being earmarked for conversion into residential use and a net balance of 51% of surveyors reported a rise in demand for office, industrial and retail space. Across the whole of the UK, 32% more surveyors said availability across office, retail and industrial properties had fallen, while demand had risen to a net balance of 44%. RICS says it is significant that demand for industrial property grew on the previous quarter from a net balance of 49% in the second quarter to 56% in the third quarter and surveyors in London also saw a large rise in prospective overseas investors in the industrial sector of 73%. The picture across the UK appears increasingly upbeat, with the firmer tone spreading beyond the capital as the economic expansion gains greater traction. This is being reflected in rental expectations which are now in positive territory in all parts of the country in the office and industrial sectors. Retail remains something of a laggard with a flatter rental trend away from the more dynamic parts of the market. For the next 12 months a net balance of 71% surveyors are forecasting an increase in rent levels in London across all segments of the market, compared to 36% in the North of England. ‘The third quarter results provide further evidence that the economic expansion is becoming more broadly based with tenant demand for space picking up in all parts of the country and the need for landlords to provide inducements diminishing,’ said Simon Rubinsohn, RICS chief economist . ‘There are also now clear signs that investors are casting their nets wider in a bid to find better value in the market following the steep drop in yields on prime property in the capital,’ he added. He also pointed out that while permitted development rights is helping in a small way to boost much needed housing supply, the latest survey suggests that it is also having the unintended consequence of contributing towards a shortfall of office space in some parts of the country. ‘Feedback from members suggests that this is particularly marked in London and adding to the upward pressure on rents. Moreover, there is… Continue reading →

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