Northern towns and cities have shot up the list of the UK’s hottest office locations in the latest ranking compiled exclusively for Property Week by CACI.

Hot offices index 2019

Five of the top 10 locations were northern, with Stockport and the Wirral registering double-digit rises, and Scottish cities taking two spots.

“In our 2019 ranking, the South East is still the top region, but it is less dominant than it was this time last year, with many areas of the north moving up the ranking,” says John Platt, director at CACI.

“There has been a rise in other parts of the UK including the West Midlands and Scotland. This shows that there is a growing opportunity for office development beyond London and the South East.”

To compile the ranking, CACI assessed more than 400 UK locations, taking into account a number of different variables including: workforce demographics, accessibility and the quality of the retail and catering offer (see methodology box). London was excluded from the main ranking but is considered separately.

Hot offices index 2019
Rank2018 rankTownRegionTotal workersWorker density (per sq mile)Total top 2 Acorn categories % top 2 Acorn categoriesPublic transport accessDrive-time accessibilityCatering provisionAccess to public transportWifi connectivityTotal
1 1 Brighton and Hove South East A A A A A C A A C 116
2 4 Trafford North West A B A A B A A A C 115
3 2 Edinburgh, City of Scotland B D A A A B A A A 114
4 8 Bristol, City of South West A A A C A B A A B 112
5 15 Stockport North West A A A B B A A A C 111
6 20 Wirral North West A A A B A B B A D 111
7 7 Glasgow City Scotland A D A B A A A A A 110
8 12 Leeds Yorkshire and The Humber A B A C A A A A B 110
9 40 South Gloucestershire South West A A A B C B A A B 110
10 9 Manchester North West A B A C A A A A C 109
11 3 Cardiff Wales A C A B A B A A D 109
12 17 Sefton North West A A A B A A B A E 109
13 10 Reading South East B A A A B C A B D 108
14 31 Milton Keynes South East A A A B C C A A D 108
15 22 Cheshire West and Chester North West A B A B C B A A D 107
16 16 Liverpool North West A B A D A A A A B 106
17 29 Sheffield Yorkshire and The Humber A A A D A B A A D 106
18 33 Derby East Midlands A A A C A B A A B 105
19 27 Warrington North West A A A B B A B A A 105
20 19 Bournemouth South West B B B B A C A A A 105
21 36 Swindon South West A A A B B D A A C 104
22 14 York Yorkshire and The Humber B C A B B D A A C 104
23 23 Birmingham West Midlands A B A D A A A A A 104
24 18 Newcastle upon Tyne North East A C A C A B A A C 103
25 70 Wiltshire South West A A A B D E A A D 102
26 11 Solihull West Midlands A D A B B A A A B 102
27 46 Cheshire East North West A B A A D C A A D 102
28 25 Nottingham East Midlands A B A D A B A A A 100
29 13 Aberdeen City Scotland C E C B A D A A E 99
30 71 Basingstoke and Deane South East B A A A C C B B D 98
31 58 Poole South West B A B B B C B B A 98
32 35 Coventry West Midlands A C A D A B A A A 97
33 55 Salford North West A C A C B A B A B 96
34 45 Leicester East Midlands A B B E A B A A A 96
35 48 Bradford Yorkshire and The Humber A B A D B B A A B 96
36 51 Northampton East Midlands A C A C B C A A C 95
37 62 Stockton-on-Tees North East B A B B B B C B A 95
37 39 Chelmsford East of England B E A A C B A B C 95
37 6 Oxford South East B D B A A C A C C 95
40 30 Cheltenham South West B A B A B C A C A 94
41 69 Wigan North West A B A D B A B A A 94
42 61 Gateshead North East B A B D A A A B C 93
43 110 Charnwood East Midlands B B B C B B C A A 92
43 102 Walsall West Midlands A A B D A A B A A 92
45 145 Wokingham South East B A A A E B B B D 92
45 97 Swansea Wales A C A D B C A A B 92
47 67 Plymouth South West A B B E A D A A A 92
48 42 Wycombe South East B E A A C C A B D 92
48 82 Colchester East of England B C B C B D B A D 92
50 53 Dudley West Midlands A C A D B A B A A 92

For the third consecutive year, Brighton and Hove occupied the top spot in the list of hot office locations, with businesses attracted to the city by its “dynamic and lively business environment alongside good transport links to both London and Portsmouth,” according to Platt.

Trafford in the North West leapfrogged Edinburgh to secure second place in the top 50, thanks to an increase in its affluent worker population.

“Other notable shifts include Stockport [moving up 10 places], Glasgow city centre [up 14] and South Gloucestershire [up 23],” says Platt.

In terms of the biggest fallers, Cardiff and Reading both dropped out of the top 10 and Platt thinks things could get worse over the coming months for the latter location.

“The rising price of [Reading] office rents due to Crossrail, coupled with uncertainty over when the line will open, may make potential businesses reconsider locating here in the short term,” he says.

Surprise locations

In the capital, Bromley topped CACI’s list of the top 20 office locations, followed by Croydon, Barnet and Lambeth, which all registered the same score.

“It may come as a surprise that some of the more traditional central London worker locations miss out on our London ranking,” says Platt. “Relative lack of amenities relative to worker population means that the City of London suffers.”

For the first time ever, CACI also assessed the hottest locations for co-working providers, reflecting the rapid recent growth of this sector of the office market.

Croydon topped this list thanks in large part to the fact that it offers companies a cheaper alternative to central London locations such as Shoreditch, says Platt.

“Relative lack of amenities relative to worker population means that the City of London suffers”

John Platt, CACI

“Croydon is an emerging destination undergoing huge amounts of change, with the new Westfield/Hammerson development being built alongside office and residential space, making it a good choice for businesses that need office space with good transport links to London but without the high price tag,” he adds.

Brighton notched up second place in the list of hot co-working locations thanks to its “reputation as a centre of creativity and entrepreneurship” and the fact that “31% of the workforce fall into the ‘rising prosperity’ group – the young and urban population who tend to occupy these spaces,” says Platt.

It will be interesting to see how the tables change over the next 12 months.

Top 20 London office locations
RankCity/boroughTotal workersWorker density (per sq mile)Rising prosperity Acorn category% rising prosperity categoryAverage PTAL scoreDrivetime accessibilityRF catering scoreRF retailer scoreWifi connectivityTotal
1 Bromley A B A A A A A A A 171
2 Croydon A B A B A A A A A 169
3 Barnet A B A A A E A A E 169
4 Lambeth A C A A A A A B D 169
5 Camden A B A A A A A B E 167
6 Brent A A A B A A A A C 166
7 Wandsworth A D A A A A A B D 166
8 Enfield A B A B A A A A A 165
9 Southwark A D A A A A A B E 165
10 Hillingdon A B A B A A A A C 165
11 Hounslow A E A B A A A A B 164
12 Westminster A B A A A A A C E 164
13 Hammersmith & Fulham FFulhFulham A D A A A A A C D 163
14 Sutton B E A A A A B A A 163
15 Tower Hamlets A C A A A A A C C 163
16 Ealing A B A B A A A C C 162
17 Merton B E A A A A A B B 162
18 Lewisham A D A B A A B B C 162
19 Islington A C A A A A A D D 161
20 Waltham Forest B A B B A A B B A 160
Top 30 co-working locations
RankCity/boroughRegionTotal workersWorker density (per sq mile)Rising prosperity Acorn category% rising prosperity categoryAverage PTAL scoreDrivetime accessibilityRF catering scoreRF retailer scoreWifi connectivityTotal
1 Croydon London A B A A A A A A A 171
2 Brighton and Hove South East A A A A A C A A C 169
3 Brent London A A A A A A A A C 169
4 Bristol, City of South West A A A A A B A A B 169
5 Edinburgh, City of Scotland B D A A A B A A A 167
6 Newham London A D A A A A A A C 166
7 Enfield London A B A A A A A A A 166
8 Bromley London A B A A A A A A A 165
9 Barnet London A B A A A E A A E 165
10 Lambeth London A C A A A A A B D 165
11 Glasgow City Scotland A D A A A A A A A 164
12 Manchester North West A B A B A A A A C 164
13 Camden London A B A A A A A B E 163
14 Hounslow London A E A A A A A A B 163
15 Wandsworth London A D A A A A A B D 163
16 Southwark London A D A A A A A B E 162
17 Greenwich London A C A A A A A B B 162
18 Hillingdon London A B A A A A A A C 162
19 Waltham Forest London B A A A A A B B A 161
20 Ealing London A B A A A A A C C 160
21 Lewisham London A D A A A A B B C 159
22 Milton Keynes South East A A A A C C A A D 159
23 Cardiff Wales A C A B A B A A D 158
24 Sutton London B E A A A A B A A 158
25 Westminster London A B A A A A A C E 157
26 Tower Hamlets London A C A A A A A C C 157
27 Leeds Yorks & Humber Humber A B A B A A A A B 157
28 Hammersmith and Fulham London A D A A A A A C D 157
29 Merton London B E A A A A A B B 156
30 South Gloucestershire South West A A A B C B A A B 156

Methodology

The ranking assessed 406 UK locations, taking into account: workforce volume/ demographics, accessibility, quality of retail and catering offer, and wifi connectivity. Each location is ranked on each metric and assigned a grade from A (most favourable) to E. The higher the grade, the higher the score. The variables are:

Employee population

  • The total number of workers in each location.
  • Worker density per square mile.

Employee demographics

  • The proportion of the two most desirable Acorn groups: ‘wealthy achievers’ and ‘rising prosperity’.
  • The co-working ranking looks at the demographic of the younger workforce likely to work in industries that use co-working space.

Transport connectivity

  • How well-connected the location is via public transport. Each location is assigned a score which is a measure of its accessibility.
  • The population that can be reached within a 30-minute drivetime, used to measure the quality of a location’s road network.

Retail experience

  • Access to good-quality retail and food and beverage outlets.

Wifi connectivity

  • Average wifi download speed.