Capital gains: will London’s office market sink or swim?
A slow return to the office in the City of London reflects many world capitals. But how can we reconcile this with record levels of development? An exclusive report looks at the contradictions
Is the London office market suffering from an existential crisis in which workers never return in sufficient numbers? Or are the underlying strengths of the capital showing themselves in development numbers that offer reasons to feel positive about London’s future?
‘Is London suffering an existential crisis or showing its strengths?’
Research suggests that office numbers have dropped from around 60 per cent capacity before the pandemic to around 30 per cent after it. However, we have also seen the largest real-estate deal in London since 2017 (the £1.2 billion sale of 5 Broadgate) and there continues to be high rates of development in the city centre – with around 20 million sq ft of new development since spring 2022.
So what, precisely, is going on? On one level, there remains general uncertainty around the future of the office and its role in the new order. On another level, a concentration of digital firms, life science activity and creative industries gives London a sense of post-pandemic momentum.
Rob Harris describes the London office market as a ‘curate’s egg’ with an uncanny ability to reinvent itself. Read his exclusive report here.