‘Exceptional’ deals last year boosted the volume of office lettings in Birmingham last year to the highest level since 2002, but 2009 will be tougher, according to Jones Lang LaSalle’s latest report.

A total of 929,320 sq ft of office space was let during 2008, a 40% increase on 2007, the JLL Birmingham offices fourth quarter research report said.

Jonathan Fear, director of office agency in JLL’s Birmingham office, said: ‘Although Birmingham saw high levels of take-up in 2008, this was largely due to a couple of exceptional deals and we do not expect this to be the case for 2009.

‘However, whilst there’s a right to be cautious about the outlook for the city’s office market this year, the prospect, whilst tough, may not be as gloomy as some are predicting.’

Last year 45% of deals in the city centre were for below 10,000 sq ft, and JLL expects this to continue this year, predicting take-up this year to be around 450,000-500,000 sq ft in 2009.

Deals such as the Highways Agency letting at the Cube and Orega’s deal to take 30,000 sq ft at Colmore Plaza are also due to complete which will boost take-up.

‘Demand will also be trigged from the 750,000 sq ft of office lease breaks or expiries due to take place over the next 24 months, which could help stimulate activity as occupiers decide to take advantage of the opportunity to upgrade their accommodation whilst benefiting from the highly competitive terms on offer from landlords,’ said Fear.

600,000 sq ft of new space is due to complete speculatively in the city centre in 2009, the report found.