Ken Bishop, senior director and head of the office agency team in DTZ Manchester, offers his review of 2013 and forecast for next year.
"The office market is looking far more positive than was the case 12 months ago. Improvement in the national economy has created greater confidence amongst businesses and an increase in activity after the summer holidays has been particularly in evidence.
"Total take-up for 2013 will be the highest for three years and it is even possible that it will achieve the long-term average of 950,000 sq ft, even without the long running saga that is Project Tomorrow, a requirement where terms have been agreed for at least two years on approximately 200,000 sq ft for a number of buildings across the city.
"The year has seen a number of large requirements for existing buildings which has been the case for many years. Barclays Bank is committed to 80,000 sq ft at 4 Piccadilly Gardens; Trader Media Group agreed to take 40,000 sq ft at One First Street and at the beginning of the year Traveljigsaw signed a lease on 62,280 sq ft at Sunlight House. In addition, Australian lawyer, Slater & Gordon, is currently seeking 100,000 sq ft in the city centre.
"The four occupiers at Barbirolli Square, PwC; Addleshaw Latham; Ernst Young and DLA, are considering their position given their lease expiry in the middle of 2017. Whilst all four occupiers may not relocate it would be surprising if none of them did. As a result the first half of 2014 may see one or more sign a pre-letting.
"Developers are responding to the demand and improved market conditions. Mosley Street Ventures have announced their intention to commence the speculative construction of 162,000 sq ft at 2 St Peter's Square and Allied London have made noises about starting The Cotton Building and One Spinningfields. With other developers gearing up to commence work it is likely that there will be three, if not four, new schemes under construction by the end of 2014."