West End sees office take-up double

Take-up of office space in the West End was at its highest in four years last quarter, boosted by the Metropolitan Police signing up at Empress State Building SW6. Take-up, in the period June to September, was 1.15m sq ft, compared with 576,000 sq ft the previous quarter and 1.95m sq ft for the whole of 2003, according to CWHB statistics. Another 1.15m sq ft is under offer, which could push 2004 take-up, – now at 2.25m sq ft – over the 3m sq ft mark.

Supply dropped slightly, to 7.7m sq ft, and the vacancy rate fell from 8.5% to 8.2%.

Four deals broke the 50,000 sq ft mark, led by the letting, signed last month, of 417,000 sq ft at Empress State Building, SW6, to the Metropolitan Police and Transport for London.

This rise in activity reflects the general improvement in the West End office letting market, which is expected to gather pace during 2005. But despite year-to-date take-up across London being up 60% on the same period last year, it fell in the City by nearly 16%, from the second-quarter figure of aim sq ft, according to CWHB.

City vacancy rates dropped from 13.8% last quarter to 12.7%, helping to lower the rate across London from 11.6% to 11.2%.

Demand across London remained strong, at 14.4m sq ft. Total third-quarter take-up for London was 2.3m sq ft – the first time that the 2m sq ft threshold has been surpassed since the third quarter in 2002.