Bracknell’s office market is outperforming nearby towns, delegates heard at this year’s annual Invest in Bracknell conference

The event, put on by Bracknell BID and UK Property Forums at the Maxis development, heard from Vail Williams partner Guy Parkes in a session introduced by BID manager Sean Griffin and chaired by Berkshire LEP chief executive Alison Webster.

Mr Parkes said that while demand had been slow as occupiers ponder the way forward and assess the amount of space they need, Bracknell has seen take-up of 104,000 sq ft so far this year against a 10-year average of 150,000 sq ft.

He said: “You can see it’s performing better than all the other (Berkshire) towns – although in Reading there’s about 160,000 sq ft still in solicitors’ hands which could land this month.”

That deal, he said, would bring Reading up to around 230-240,000 sq ft this year, barely half of its 10-year average of 475,000 sq ft.

Maidenhead, he reported, has had an ‘incredibly poor year’ but the expected letting of Legal & General’s Tempo building opposite the railway station, to Stanley Black & Decker and Abri, would likely change its fortunes for 2023.

And Mr Parkes noted one of the county’s key towns currently has particular difficulty attracting occupiers.

He said: “Slough, accessibility-wise, it’s a perfect location, but the amenities have been stripped out of the town.

“The Queensmere Shopping Centre, which was to be developed by British Land, just hasn’t happened so this is a really good example where activated space and amenities in a town grab people’s attention. We think not many people are going there at the moment until the high street’s restored.”

Increasingly, Mr Parkes said, employees are coming back to the office and occupiers are seeking fitted space and all-in-one inclusive costs, rather than rent and other costs such as energy, being separate.

That ‘activated’ space attracts up to £10 per sq ft more, he said.

He named the town’s key attributes as accessibility, good value housing and value in the office market where costs are around £5,200 per person per year compared to £7,000 in Reading.

In a subsequent panel debate, Nigel Wild, head of national accounts for Maxis occupier Morgan Lovell noted employees desire for social interaction as one of the drivers of the return to the office, a point made in Mr Parkes’ presentation.

Mr Wild said: “Social interaction isn’t just going in and talking about what you saw on Netflix last night. People work better as teams than individuals and want space where they can do that effectively.”

A demand for a mix of space including quiet areas, which employees could enjoy at home, was driving demand to top quality offices, he said.

“That’s pushing employers and subsequently that’s pushing landlords to that drive for a better class.”

See also ‘We need to market Bracknell better’

Image shows Guy Parkes during his presentation.

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