Expert View: New office availability ‘will show strength of demand’ in St Albans

Matthew Bowen, Aitchison Raffety

Matthew Bowen, Aitchison Raffety - Credit: Archant

Matthew Bowen of Aitchison Raffety considers how the market is likely to develop over the next year.

Over 2017 and the first part of 2018 it was widely reported that permitted development - which allowed offices to be converted into residential with very little the council could do to stop it - was causing a severe shortage of offices in St Albans and Harpenden.

The consequence was a sharp increase in rents as supply outstripped demand. It was almost a ‘perfect storm’ as companies displaced by permitted development were now also looking for offices as well as the usual demand.

Office take up in St Albans city centre dropped in 2017 due to the lack of supply, however, in the last month we have or are in the process of taking on five city centre offices all between 3,000 – 5,000 sq ft. This was the busiest part of the market but with permitted development no longer adding to demand (due to a reduction in buildings converting) it will be interesting to see if there is the latent demand to maintain historically high rents.

That being said, two of the offices we already have offers on without them even being widely on the market so it isn’t exactly quiet! Nonetheless it will be interesting to see how the market develops in the next 12 months.

For more information, contact Matthew at Aitchison Raffety on 01727 843232