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London office space ‘is incredibly popular’

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The London office space market is proving to be “incredibly popular”, despite the ongoing downturn, it has been suggested.

Mat Oakley, commercial research director for Savills, said that around £12-13 billion will be invested in the market over the coming year.

He predicted that London office developments will continue to attract tenants, with businesses eager to be at the heart of one of the world’s leading trade centres.

“London has consistently been the most popular destination for cross-border investment in pretty much every one of the last seven years,” Mr Oakley noted.

He said this is because the city is seen as being “a very safe haven” for investors – property values only tend to head in one direction.

“In the eurozone, confusion is going to continue for quite a number of years,” Mr Oakley predicted. “Certainly we expect 2013 to see a similarly high level of cross-border investor interest in London.”

He noted that the vast majority of investors in London commercial property in recent times have been from overseas.

“In the London office market, 60 per cent of investment in the West End and 80 per cent of investment in the City has been by non-domestic investors,” Mr Oakley said.

“If you look at the retail market it is a similar story. Non-domestic investors like London. As long as volatility continues in the rest of the world, London will be popular.”

In his view, businesses will continue to look for office space in high-rise developments.

Mr Oakley said that, in general, these have achieved the highest rents in the market over the last two decades.

“If you go over 20 storeys you can generally expect to achieve top grants in that market. They are not that common, so people are prepared to pay,” the expert said.

“There is certainly a crop of them being delivered at the moment.”