The stratospheric success of the Oxford-Cambridge Arc knowledge economy has driven up prime office rents in the region by 11.9% in a year – compared to 2.2% growth in the UK average outside London. 

Bidwells is today forecasting Cambridge rents will reach £50 per sq ft over the next five years.

Prime office rents in Cambridge now stand at £45 per sq ft, with Oxford at £40 per sq ft. 

The university cities’ rents are ahead of any other regional office market in the UK and only slightly below the key London markets of Canary Wharf (£48.50 per sq ft) and Stratford (£48.00 per sq ft).

Dick Wise, Head of Business Space Agency at Bidwells, said:

“The Government’s Industrial Strategy has focused on developing the UK’s knowledge-based economy and the Oxford-Cambridge Arc is right at the centre of it. Our figures show that the Oxford-Cambridge Arc region now contains more than 20% of the UK’s entire Science & Technology park floor space.

“The Cambridge office market is on track for its busiest year since 2014, during one of the most uncertain economic periods in living memory, and now looks set to break the once unthought-of £50 per sq ft mark within five years.

“Oxford is a global hotspot for innovation and technology transfer, with a mature eco-system plus billions of pounds of public and private investment being made into fast-growing spin out companies, national research facilities and infrastructure. The recent announcement of a partnership between Legal and General and the University of Oxford in a recent example.”

Cambridge in focus

  • The first available rental figures of 2019 reveal that prime rental values are now at £45 per sq ft – a 28.6% rise since the end of 2015
  • Cambridge experienced the busiest six months of letting activity since 2016 in H1 2019
  • Prime office rents surged £3.50 per sq ft in the first half of 2019
  • Office & laboratory take up totals led 322,700 sq ft in the first half of 2019
  • The three biggest city deals of the period saw space taken by DisplayLink at 22 Cambridge Science Park (61,026 sq ft), AstraZeneca at Eastbrook House, Shaftesbury Road (51,100 sq ft) and WeWork at 50-60 Station Road (48,650 sq ft).

CGI of No 22 Cambridge Science Park Cambridge

Dick Wise, Head of Business Space Agency at Bidwells, said:

“These latest figures demonstrate that the sustained global competition for space means the Cambridge market is now entering a ‘new reality’ in which well-located buildings are pre-let and occupied as soon as they are available.” 

Oxford in focus 

  • Prime office rents in Oxford reached a new high of £40 per sq ft in the first half of 2019 - with supply falling to its lowest level in ten years
  • Rents have jumped up from £23 per sq ft at end of 2014, a staggering 73.6% rise from the end of 2014.
  • Registered demand for Oxford office and laboratory space just under 1m sq ft

Ox Jam Factory

David Williams, Partner Business Space Agency at Bidwells in Oxford, said:

“The demand, take-up and rental data is largely dictated by the availability of stock, so in a sense we have a ‘glass ceiling’ and the true latent demand will be visible when we break through this.

“In the short-term existing stock is being rapidly re-purposed, alongside 140,000 sq ft of refurbishment & construction currently under way returning higher rents, whilst in the medium term the main campuses and city centre regeneration projects will inject millions of sq ft over the next 10 years a lot of which can be accounted for.”

Over 80% of Bidwells’ work is concentrated in the ‘Golden Triangle’ of Oxford, Cambridge and London. 

To view Bidwells’ most recent business space research for Cambridge please click here

To view Bidwells’ most recent business space research for Oxford please click here

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