GPA’s 130,000 sq ft lease at First Street was Manchester's largest transaction in 2022. Credit: via planning documents

Manchester office investment dominates ‘Big Six’ in 2022

A JLL report shows that the city’s deals accounted for 26% of the 142 completed nationally last year, against the volatility of the government’s mini-budget, rising living costs, and debt.

The average vacancy rate across Manchester, Bristol, Birmingham, Edinburgh, Leeds, and Glasgow dropped from 6.2% in 2021 to 5.5% in 2022, with the number of leases increasing by 19% to 2.4m sq ft.

Although these figures show an overall increase in activity across the six cities, the numbers are below the ten-year averages.

Meanwhile, national investment activity shows a 17% reduction on the 10-year average and a 9% decrease from 2021, totalling £1.6bn.

Elaine Rossall, head of UK offices research at JLL, said: “An overall pick up in activity across our six markets is heartening to see but to be trending below five and 10-year averages suggests confidence hasn’t picked up to the extent we would have liked just yet.

“What’s needed now is economic stability and a clear plan for growth for the regions, which in turn will spur investors into longer-term spending on our cities.”


Manchester’s office investment market was the most active of the Big Six, recording £421m of sales volumes in 2022 compared to Leeds’ £174m.

However, these figures are a 40% decrease from 2021’s £707m.

La Francaise Real Estate’s £47.5m purchase of Barbirolli Square was the largest deal of last year’s final quarter, according to JLL.

Otherwise, JLL notes that most of the city’s activity was ‘Value Add’ space, whereby assets are repositioned to deliver appropriate working space.


A total of 1.2m sq ft of office space was transacted in Manchester in 2022, in comparison to 618,000 sq ft in Leeds.

JLL’s figures agree with the Manchester Office Agents Forum’s report in January, which also noted that the 1.2m sq ft of deals in 2022 was 15% higher than in 2021.

The largest transaction last year was GPA’s 130,000 sq ft lease at First Street, according to JLL.

Supply fell at the end of 2022, with total office vacancies falling from 6.9% in Q1 to 5.4%.

Positively, JLL recorded a total of 890,000 sq ft of workspace under construction at the end of the year, with 545,000 sq ft due to complete this year.

Of the total 890,000 sq ft under construction, 640,000 sq ft is new build.

Manchester’s average rent price increased over the year by around 4%, reaching £40 per sq ft. This increase reflects the demand for higher-quality offices in the city.

Stephen Hogg, head of the North West at JLL, said: “As occupiers continue to prioritise Grade A credentials, we expect to see the pressure pile on an already well-populated prime office space market, pushing rents up even further.”

Find the whole report at

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Your Comments

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Rankings were expected I suppose but some way to go before any of the Big 6 get back to the all time high. Still, pretty impressive for Manchester and Leeds given the circumstances.

By Charles

Wow, 26% of all deals completed? That’s really impressive by any standards.

By Anonymous

I wonder is there a similar report for the next tranche of cities say Sheffield, Nottingham, Liverpool, Newcastle etc. It would be useful to see how they are performing too.

By Anonymous

Rumours of the death of the office seems to be greatly exaggerated. It’s going to get tougher probably in the coming years but Manchester in particular seems to have its own gravity now when it comes to attracting jobs and tenants.

By Dan smate

But Dan far fewer people are coming in to work, Mondays and Fridays are very quiet, offices are being used sporadically


Developers need to look to future and stop living in the past as offices are going the way of the cotton mills.Technology is making offices redundant and with it the expensive commute or over priced city centre apartments.Sorry if that means end to easy and lazy thinking of some developers but the world has changed and they need to stop living in the past.

By John Bolton

Living in the past ! . oh dear and this on a development site! So many people still going to offices, thats the reality and reality is written in figures and reports not fantasy and hyperbole. Sure it will evolve but no amount of wishful thinking will kill the office or the city for that matter.

By Caltoo

Strange how the naysayers go on about their version of ‘ohh…the world has changed, offices not needed…blah blah blah….Manchester begs to differ!

By Anonymous

I assume everybody working in these offices live within a 15 minute bike ride


30 minute tram ride 4 days a week actually, and that’s fine. It’s good to get back in.

By Tomasz

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