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Office construction in Birmingham hits highest level for 13 years

Office construction in Birmingham has hit its highest level for more than 13 years, according to data from Deloitte’s Birmingham Crane Survey.

Last year saw six new office starts, the highest on record and the most ever recorded in Birmingham’s Crane Survey, according to the auditing firm.

The work equates to nearly 1m sq ft of office space under construction in the city.

The most active year previously was 2007, when three new office starts were recorded. Over the last five years combined only four offices were started across the city.

Major projects underway in the city include the renovation of the Grade II listed 55 Colmore Row, which will provide 160,000 sq ft of Grade A office space, while demolition is also underway at 103 Colmore Row, the former site of the city’s Natwest Tower.

Take up of office space has also seen a resurgence, hitting its highest level since 2008.

Hotel construction is also booming in the city, with 693 rooms currently under construction, three times the level of the city’s 10-year average. These will be completed during 2016 and 2017.

Across all sectors, however, nine new schemes started in 2015, below the long-term average of 11. This was largely due to a slowdown in the residential market, according to Deloitte. There was only one residential start during the year, with the 600 homes currently under construction well below the 10-year high of 1,983 homes recorded in 2008.

That figure for total homes under construction is also below the 10-year average of 630. Nevertheless, developments at Arena Central, which will add an additional 412 apartments, and the £100m mixed-use Great Charles Place development, which will include 320 residential apartments, will help to alleviate this shortfall.

There were also no education or retail starts during the year, although a number of high profile retail schemes were completed during 2015 including the Grand Central shopping centre, above the city’s newly redeveloped New Street station.

Commenting on the survey, Edwin Bray, lead partner of Deloitte Real Estate in the Midlands, commented: “This is an incredibly positive report in many ways, and reflects the sentiment towards Birmingham and the wider Midlands region that we are seeing across our firm and client-base, not just here in the UK, but globally.

“Increase in capital values coupled with genuine rental growth has been a feature of the last 12 months and yet, our market continues to offer excellent opportunities and great value for investors prepared to consider an alternative to London.”

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