Winchester Bucking Office Space Trends?


Posted by Kevin Gover

Posted in News

About Winchester Today

Walking around Winchester, you may find it hard to believe that the city is ‘sold out’ of office space. Many buildings – including one in the High Street – have seemed to have had the same ‘To Let’ sign outside them for as much as 2 years.

But analysis by the south coast agency team of the national commercial property consultancy Lambert Smith Hampton shows Winchester’s office market is outperforming its competition within the region.

Andrew Hodgkinson is Associate Director in the office agency team and explains why:

“The city has proven to be a location of choice for businesses. The location has also attracted high profile restaurateurs, including chefs Raymond Blanc, Jamie Oliver and soon to include Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, who is in negotiations to sign a lease of the old Abbey Mill.

“Winchester’s proximity to London, excellent communications, accessibility to an educated labour pool and a constrained office supply means that businesses are prepared to pay a premium for such benefits.”

Andrew says these factors have helped to maintain headline rents at around £20 per sq ft – significantly above centres such as Southampton (£18.50 per sq ft), Portsmouth (£17 per sq ft) and Bournemouth/Poole (£16 per sq ft).

He also cites success in recent office lettings – including those at Royal Court to Pegasus New Build (7,095 sq ft) and Orca Exploration (3,500 sq ft) on 10 year leases, as well as at Venta Court in Jewry Street – which boasts Brasserie Blanc as a ground floor occupier – to Executives Online. These transactions have all achieved headline rents equating to £20 per sq ft. Athenia House, another of Winchester’s better quality office buildings, has also this year let its third floor on a 10 year lease at a headline rent of £19.50 per sq ft, and reportedly there is strong interest in the remaining floors.

He also says that buildings no longer considered suitable for the modern day office occupiers are also being let for alternative uses: “An example of this is Friary House (5,800 sq ft) in the centre of the city, which has now been snapped up by a new boutique fitness club.”

He also welcomes proposed new developments: “The Silver Hill scheme has finally received the go-ahead, which will bring forward 18,500 sq ft of much needed ‘grade A’ office space to the city centre.

“Chilcomb Park, on the outskirts of the city, is a proposed office scheme offering an alternative for occupiers wanting brand new, ‘grade A’ space, by delivering bespoke premises built specifically for them.

“The land surrounding Winchester train station is another area being looked at for potential redevelopment which we believe is an obvious opportunity for the city. Train station development has proven successful at other South East locations, such as Reading, and we believe such a project would prove attractive to businesses looking to relocate to Winchester. It would also tick many of the green credential boxes, making the most of direct access to public transport infrastructure.”