The One Station Hill building will help address a supply crunch coming to Reading town centre, delegates heard at the first UK Prop Social event of 2022.
Charlie Benn, associate director at Hatch RE which is marketing space in the 275,000 sq ft building – the town centre’s biggest office – answered questions from UK Property Forums managing director Matthew Battle about whether there would be sufficient demand after the effects of Covid.
Mr Benn, told the Thursday, January 28 meeting: “When Covid first started everybody paused for breath at that particular moment but the demand is still there.
“Reading town centre has between roughly 300,000 and 400,000 sq ft of availability and, if you look at take up figures, despite Covid, we are only really about two or three years away from having a real supply crunch in the town centre.
“Out of town, as in the business parks of Reading, you have three times the amount of supply that the town centre does so the demand is absolutely there and, given that the rest of the pipeline in Reading is still further away, I think Station Hill is going to time it very well.”
Occupiers have already been attracted to Reading from other towns such as Bayer from Newbury, Thalis from Basingstoke and Sanofi from Guildford, helped by the connectivity Reading offers into London. But Mr Benn pointed to the much-discussed ambition of attracting London occupiers to the town.
He said: “We still have not seen the big London occupier move out to Reading yet. It will be really interesting if Covid forces that trend to happen.
“So far we haven’t seen it but the statistics point towards a flight to quality – 90 per cent of last year’s take up was for Grade A space. Even though rents are what they are, people want to acquire a destination workspace in order to either fit with their brand or to make the workplace exciting – or to lure people back in.
“There’s just a lot of markers that indicate that Reading is ready for Station Hill.”
One Station Hill will have co-working space on the ground, first and second floors which will be highly visible from the outside.
Space in the building will be delivered on a ‘shell and floor’ basis so that the M&E at the ceiling level will not need to be dismantled during occupiers’ fit outs. The concept is designed to avoid installations being made which are subsequently removed by an occupier. Instead, a capital contribution will be made to the tenant. Mr Benn said the floor to ceiling height of 3.62 metres is notably higher than most.
There will be roof terraces on the eighth and 15th floors, the latter will have a lounge (which has a working title of Cloud One). It will face the station and may be available to non-occupiers for events. An app provided by Smartspaces will be used for services and for using amenities. Practical completion of One Station Hill is due in January 2024.
The meeting was held at the Dog House co-working space in Friar Street. Robert Hoadley, managing director of TCN UK the co-working provider which owns the Dog House, the former offices of Sergeant & Sheppard solicitors, told delegates the 5,500 sq ft space had been acquired at auction after 17 years unoccupied.
He said: “We wanted our head office in Reading because we love Reading. This is an old solicitors’ office, it had rotten roof, rotten floors and had planning consent for residential.
“We said ‘no, we’re not going to do that, we are going to make it fantastic new office premises with a bit of our style and flair’.”
He said TCN sits between a serviced office provider and traditional landlord and focusses on flexible arrangements. Small creative businesses are the typical members.
Mr Hoadley said the Dog House is one of six venues currently operated by TCN. During the pandemic, occupancy dropped from 92 per cent to 78 per cent with a loss of 10 member firms out of 325. The current rate across all sites is now 92 per cent.
Top image (l-r): Charlie Benn, Matthew Battle and Robert Hoadley.
See gallery below for more general views.
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