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Manchester's 3m sq ft of empty office space

New report shows footfall down, hotels on the up and success at the airport

Written by . Published on July 19th 2011.

Manchester's 3m sq ft of empty office space

MANCHESTER city centre has more than three million sq ft of vacant office space according to a new report by think tank New Economy.

The report claims take-up for the year stands at just under 135,000 sq ft, with 3.2m sq ft still available.

Last year was a record year for office take up in Manchester, with deals done on around 1.3m sq ft, but the report notes ‘2011 is unlikely to see the same levels of activity.’

"Average house prices in Greater Manchester peaked in April 2008 at just over £130,000. Since then, prices have dropped by £23,000."

Prime office rents in Manchester showed a small increase between the final quarter of 2010 and the first quarter of 2011 – up from £28.50 per sq ft to £30 per sq ft.

In terms of footfall, figures from city centre management company CityCo show a drop for May, recording a negative annual change of - 11.6 per cent. Cityco claims this is due to the closure of the Cross Street bridge, however, which is recorded by one of the cameras that logs city centre footfall. Footfall figures for April also showed a year-on-year drop, of 15.5 per cent.

Hotel occupancy rates in the city centre have increased though, from 76.6 per cent in May 2010 to 78.1 per cent a year later. Average weekend occupancy rates in the city centre increased to 87 per cent compared to 85 per cent 12 months earlier. The weekday average in the city centre also grew over the year and stood at 75 per cent in May.

Businesses in Greater Manchester had to deal with a rise in winding up orders in the first quarter of 2011 – 213 compared to 166 in the final three months of 2010. The number of Bankruptcy petitions presented by creditors increased between the final quarter of 2010 and first quarter of 2011 as well, going up from 158 to 174.

Average house prices in Greater Manchester peaked in April 2008 at just over £130,000. Since then, prices have dropped by 18 per cent (£23,000).

The total number of sales has been falling, although the latest figures (March 2011) put sales at more than 1,900 – compared to around 1,500 in both January and February.

Passenger numbers at Manchester Airport stood at 1.4 million in April 2011, an increase of more than 352,000 passengers compared to April 2010. Passenger numbers at the Airport now stand at their highest level since October last year, when they were at 1.6 million. The report claims passenger numbers for May could break 1.7 million.

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Fish TankJuly 19th 2011.

Perhaps 'Think Tank' should ask some of the city's many office agents about the market, rather than releasing spurious figures.

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