According to figures from Manchester Office Agents Forum, 317,000 sq ft of office take-up was recorded in the city centre in the first quarter of 2015, alongside 214,000 sq ft in Salford Quays which exceeded the entirety of 2014 by 40%.
Peel's 120,000 sq ft pre-let deal with BUPA dominated Salford's figures, with work due to start on the development of a new-build office in 2016.
Notable deals in the city centre included EY which pre-committed to 41,628 sq ft at Mosley Street Ventures' 2 St Peter's Square, followed by PwC which agreed a 49,406 sq ft lease in Allied London's 1 Spinningfields. These buildings will be ready for occupation by mid-2017.
In the largest acquisition of an existing building, Rental Cars took 37,845 sq ft at the recently refurbished 35 Fountain Street.
There was 108,000 sq ft transacted in the first quarter in South Manchester. According to MOAF, there are a raft of large deals in the pipeline and the market is expected to continue with a strong performance. The 20,000 sq ft Colony is currently under construction, and is the first speculative development in South Manchester for many years, with others expected to follow.
Warrington achieved a take-up of 42,405 sq ft, with a large number of requirements expected to be met in the second quarter of the year.
Andrew Gardiner, director at TSG Property Consultants and spokesman for MOAF, said: "With the continued strong market, a reflection of the improving economic conditions, it is likely that we will see further pre let developments, and a possible return to speculative developments out of town. The balance of the market is clearly moving away from occupiers, and towards developers and landlords."
Meanwhile, in Liverpool take-up for the first quarter is expected to be around 20,000 sq ft. According to Neil Kirkham, associate director at CBRE, the slow start was due to a range of deals being agreed in the final quarter of 2014.
He said: "After a 23% increase on the previous year in 2014, we were expecting a busy start to the year. However, there are a variety of sizable requirements in the market which we are hopeful will be committed fairly shortly and will lead to a more back-ended 2015."
MOAF members include BE Group, CBRE, Canning O'Neill, Colliers International, Cushman & Wakefield, DTZ, Deloitte, Edwards & Co, GVA, JLL, Knight Frank, Lambert Smith Hampton, Matthews & Goodman, OBI Property, Savills, TSG Property Consultants and WHR Property Consultants.