Record low office take-up in Belfast during first half of 2020

Cloud insurance technology company Applied Systems took on 19,160 sq ft of Adelaide Exchange during H1.

BELFAST’S office market felt the impact of Covid-19 in the first six months of 2020, a report from Lambert Smith Hampton (LSH) has confirmed.

The 86,216 feet of office space occupied in the first half (H1) was the lowest on record for its six monthly office market report. The take-up was 53 per cent down on last year and 64 per cent below the five year H1 average.

Just 25,000 sq ft was taken up in the second quarter of 2020 as employers implemented home working during the lockdown.

The largest office deals in H1 involved tech firms Applied Systems at Adelaide Exchange (19,160 sq ft) and Imperva at Arnott House (17,397 sq ft).

LSH director Greg Henry, described the first half of 2020 as “unprecedented”.

“Covid-19 has caused significant economic shocks and the full consequences on the employment market are yet to be felt as the government’s furlough scheme is only just starting to be wound down.

“The sudden necessity to shift office employees from the office environment to working from home and its general success has the potential to create significant long-term change in the office occupier market,” he said.

“With government advice changing offices are gradually re-opening, occupiers are likely to be more amenable to flexible working practices and may be re-assessing the quantity or type of office space they really require.”

But the LSH director said Belfast is relatively well-placed to deal with the impact of Covid-19.

“Demand from occupiers remains, but with many delaying returning to their current premises until at least September momentum on new deals is slow,” he said.

“While it is expected that take-up in the second half of the year will remain subdued, the key city fundamentals of lower employer and occupancy costs, lower cost of living and highly skilled people, along with the forthcoming new developments, will continue to attract potential occupiers.”

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