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CN Briefing: Offices; London; SMEs; Royal Albert Dock; Sadiq Khan

According to the most basic understanding of supply and demand, the record-breaking results in this morning’s crane survey from Deloitte look like a boon for business.

In 20 years of the biannual health check for London’s commercial market, never before have there been so many new office starts. In fact, the 51 new developments that have cropped up between October 2015 and March 2016 is getting on for double the previous record.

But if a two-speed London is a fact of life in the housing market, it could be becoming the same when it comes to offices.

The bulk of the pre-let space - 2.3m sq ft in fact - has been snapped up by financial firms, which isn’t that much of a surprise when considering that just over half the new office schemes are based in the City.

As in housing, supply in and of itself is less of a problem than affordable supply.

Simply because there is more space to put water coolers and break-out couches, it doesn’t mean businesses can necessarily afford to set up shop there.

Richard Garner, head of commercial at property consultant Daniel Watney, says the Deloitte figures “only tell half the story”.

He adds: “There’s still a very real supply crunch across the capital with firms unable to access space they can afford.”

SMEs, Mr Garner explains, cannot find appropriate spaces at appropriate prices, irrespective of how many gleaming glass towers fill the sky.

While new mayor Sadiq Khan has a well-documented battle on his hands to create the best housing mix for the city he will govern for the next four years, it might be equally important for him to tackle inequality in the business world too.

Mr Garner cites Soho as an area where redevelopment has priced out creative industries that once thrived. But that could be applied to vast swathes of east London.

A warning, perhaps, to Chinese developer ABP, which is close to appointing a new contractor for its £1.7bn Royal Albert Dock scheme.

It would be a shame to price out the kind of business which could help convert this once run-down corner of London into a desirable destination.

The quick take

As one gets older, so the saying goes, policemen seem to get younger. The same goes for people in CGIs, as these ones of Crossrail’s brand spanking new station designs show.

It’s all change at Laing O’Rourke. Following a strategic review, the group has split its European business in three, each with a new leadership team.

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