Robert Noel – Managing Director, London Portfolio
Despite continued anxiety around the financial and economic environment, London reasserted itself as a centre for property investment in the year.
As expected, rents have been slower to respond to the growing confidence as we continued to see a softening of rental values.
But as we moved into the second half, a pricing difference did appear between prime and average buildings as continued occupational demand, combined with a reduced construction pipeline, started to limit availability of prime office buildings. This has left tenants with less choice, and means rental growth is returning for prime offices.
With vacancy rates peaking at lower levels than in 2003 and a very limited supply of new developments coming on stream, we expect a supply constrained market to continue peaking between 2013 and 2015.
This offers us a real opportunity to capitalise on our development programme. We have a large portfolio with development opportunities and we intend to deliver much of it earlier in the cycle. That way we gain competitive pricing, deliver into rising rental values and take advantage of a liquid market in which to make sales, as and when appropriate.
It is this strategy that saw us start three major developments in the West End and why we will pursue other opportunities within our portfolio. We are clear on how we can deliver value, and confident in our ability to deliver.