Liverpool is holding up well despite the gloomy state of the market
The prospects for the office market in general do not look rosy. Liverpool, however, could be the exception to this rule. Last year set a record for take-up, with about 44,130 sq m (475,000 sq ft) – around double the normal Liverpool city average. Can this be repeated?

Based on figures produced by Merseyside Property Forum, take-up in the first half of 2001 is around 24,750 sq m (250,000 sq ft) with 9,290 sq m (100,000 sq ft) in two lettings that are due to be be completed this year.

Enquiries remain strong with more than 46,500 sq m (500,000 sq ft) of active requirements.

As with many provincial cities, there is now a shortage of grade A space and, while new office developments are planned at City Square (by Teesland), 101 Old Hall Street (Beetham Organization), Richmond House (Rumford Developments) and Temple Square (Villagate Properties), as yet few developers appear brave enough to build speculatively without at least a partial prelet.

Again, there is the odd exception. Princes Dock Development Company will commence phase three of its Waterside office building of 9,290 sq m (100,000 sq ft) by the end of this year and Beetham Organization will have completed 10 Duke Street, which will comprise a 2,975 sq m (32,000 sq ft) new-build office.

Neptune Developments has now obtained planning permission for 16,250 sq m (175,000 sq ft) of offices at the site of the Roman Catholic cathedral with the focus being a technology campus.

Refurbishment of existing stock continues as landlords are encouraged by the lack of new-build competition and rising rents. Moorfield Group will soon have completed a £5m refurbishment of Cavern Court in Mathew Street offering 4,180 sq m (45,000 sq ft).

Outside of the city, new space is available at Wavertree Technology Park and it is understood that Speke Garston Development Company will soon start work on a 4,180 sq m (45,000 sq ft) speculative new build at the Estuary.

I predict ...
More new-build offices will be needed to create the critical mass to ensure that Liverpool remains high on the shopping list for future enquiries. Refurbished accommodation in the prime core will achieve £129/sq m (£12/sq ft).

Yields for prime refurbished buildings will remain around 8% while new build should achieve 7%-8%.