Companies are flocking to Manchester city centre with take-up almost double the quarterly average as the UK continues to make its economic recovery.
Manchester accounted for 38% of all city centre regional office take-up, claims the Big Nine report from commercial agents GVA, in a clear sign that industries are beginning to prosper once again after years of difficult conditions.
With 0.8% growth in the second quarter of 2014, the UK has finally returned to its pre-downturn peak – six years on from the credit crunch crash that plunged the country into recession.
“We are seeing some significant growth in certain cities as sector specific growth in the UK’s economy has begun to feed into the need for companies to increase their office space,” said GVA’s National Head of Offices Carl Potter.
“This report underlines the growing strength of occupier demand that underpins this confidence.”
City centre office take-up soared to 484,000 square foot in the second quarter – rising from 250,000 sq ft in the first quarter.
Total Manchester take-up was 15% above the five-year quarterly average, at 2.85million sq ft. Out-of-town take-up was 19% above the quarterly average at 819,500 sq ft.
Nationally, city centre office space was being snapped up at 61% of the total of 1,265,500sq ft – 13% above the five-year quarterly average – with Manchester accounted for 38%.
The central Manchester market has seen a ‘stellar performance’ after making a strong start to the year with more than 800,000 sq ft changing hands up to the half year point, and the likes of Barclays Bank making moves in the city centre.
The news comes as the UK’s gross domestic product (GDP) rose to 0.2% ahead of its level at the start of 2008, according to figures released by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) today.
It marks the end of a period when GDP slumped to 7.2% below its pre-recession levels by the middle of 2009.
And it was only last year when growth began to accelerate in earnest. But Britain is now predicted to be the fastest growing major world economy in 2014.
Yesterday, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) raised its GDP forecast for the fourth time in a row to 3.2%.
Senior politicians have praised the latest figures, hailing them as an indication that the Coalition Government’s long-term recovery plan is beginning to bear fruit.
Chancellor George Osborne paid tribute to workers and said: “Thanks to the hard work of the British people, today we reach a major milestone in our long term economic plan.
“Now we owe it to hardworking taxpayers not to repeat the mistakes of the past and instead to continue with the plan that is delivering economic security and a brighter future for all.”
Today’s figures showed that GDP was 3.1% higher in the second quarter compared with the same period a year ago – the highest such year-on-year increase since just before the crisis in the last quarter of 2007.
The Prime Minister, David Cameron, said: “It’s encouraging news that the economy is larger than pre-crash levels. Our long term economic plan is working and this is a major milestone.
“There is still a long way to go – the Great Recession was one of the deepest of any major economy and cost Britain six years.”
Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said: “Today is a big day for Britain – the rescue has worked: our economy is now larger than it was before the crash.
“For the Liberal Democrats, this shows we were right to step up to the plate and form a coalition Government in the first place.
“Our first duty was to pull the economy back from the brink. The rescue has succeeded because of us.”
However, Labour have warned that ‘complacency’ could see the UK economy slip backwards once again.
Shadow chancellor Ed Balls said: “At long last our economy is back to the size it was before the global banking crisis – three years after the US reached the same point.
“But with GDP per head not set to recover for three more years and most people still seeing their living standards squeezed, this is no time for complacent claims that the economy is fixed.”
But Manchester business leaders have welcomed the news and re-iterated that the country needs to press on to complete the journey from bust to boom.
Mike Blackburn, BT’s Regional Director for the North West and Chair of Greater Manchester’s Local Enterprise Partnership, said: “It’s encouraging to see that the economy is back on track and we’re especially pleased that UK GDP has now surpassed its pre-recession peak.
“The challenge for the country as a whole will be to ensure that this momentum continues.
“At a regional level there are still some major challenges to address, not least around skills and employment.
“We need to ensure that Greater Manchester continues to get investment for new jobs from national projects and funds that are designed to boost the UK economy, such as the Local Growth Fund and HS2.”
Image courtesy of Mikey, with thanks.