MEPC Birchwood Centre

Birchwood outperforms other regional parks

The North West is the only region outside the South East with notable business park development ongoing this year, mainly in Birchwood, according to research from GVA.

GVA said there was marginal improvement in construction activity in the North West and South East in the first half of 2012.

The agent's Business Parks report stated: "While take-up in the North West has been subdued, Your Housing Group are close to completing on 40,000 sq ft at Birchwood Park and there is sustained demand for large requirements such as Costain and Sony, who are considering design-and-build options of 60,000 sq ft for HQ or regional consolidation."

UK business park take-up in the first six months of 2012 totalled 2.47m sq ft, an increase of 8% on the previous six months, against a five-year six-monthly average of 1.95m sq ft.

Chris Cheap, GVA's North West head of offices, said: "Most growth has come from high-tech, automotive engineering and aerospace industries, which tend to focus their requirements on business parks because of the varied benefits they offer. It is these sectors experiencing growth that will ensure the survival of well-located business parks with the facilities to match.

"Evidence of this has been seen in the North West with amongst others the likes of Costain and MWH Global launching significant searches for decentralised space within the last six months. With most parks moving into a pre-let only cycle it is clear that these are long-term business decisions rather than occupiers seeking to take advantage of shorter term downward rental pressures on existing stock."

The amount of office space under construction in UK business parks however remains at its lowest level for many years. The report indicated the space under construction currently stands at 657,000 sq ft, 75% of which is pre-let space. A total of 17.7m sq ft of floor space is immediately available for occupation, a 5% increase on the previous six months. Availability remained stable in Scotland, the North East and North West, while South East and South West availability increased by 5%.

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