Ian Manson: Breaking the chronic office space conundrum

Police Scotland is among the organisations to have relocated to Clyde Gateway. Picture: John Devlin
Police Scotland is among the organisations to have relocated to Clyde Gateway. Picture: John Devlin
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My own experience, based on 30 years’ involvement in planning and regeneration, is that there has always been a conundrum around the supply and demand of Grade A office accommodation across our city centres.

The pattern always seems to be either a glut or a shortage, and two recent reports, from Savills and Knight Frank, have indicated we will again shortly be facing a shortage. This will be the consequence of a current pressing need that will lead, particularly in Glasgow, to all remaining Grade A offices being snapped up in 2017 at a time when no new builds will be available for at least two more years, with speculative commercial building pipelines being frozen or closed.

Satellite business districts regenerate an area and offer inward investment opportunities

Any combination of increasing demand and decreasing stock is likely to lead to rises in rental fees, with businesses unable to expand or move due to lack of availability. This will add costs to SMEs and at the same time potentially force larger investors to look at other regions to base new workforces.

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There is, however, a viable alternative. Satellite business districts, such as those we can provide at Clyde Gateway, not only regenerate an area but offer immediate opportunities to attract inward investment while also helping to enhance growth within the city region. Clyde Gateway was established to carry out the regeneration of some 840 hectares across the east end of Glasgow and South Lanarkshire.

We work in partnership with Glasgow City Council, South Lanarkshire Council, Scottish Enterprise and the Scottish Government and we are driving forward £1.5 billion of private sector investment to establish this area as a hub of business activity.

Neighbouring Glasgow’s city centre, we have a dynamic, mobile and skilled workforce on our doorstep. To date, we have developed 300,000 square feet of Grade A office and industrial space, suitable for small, medium, large companies. Already, over 90 per cent of this space has been let or sold. We’re seeing a real appetite from businesses wanting to move to our satellite business location, attracted by the quality of business space, set in a prime location with excellent transport links and cost savings of 30 per cent in comparison to typical city centre offerings across the UK.

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In addition, all Clyde Gateway properties have superfast broadband and offer up to a Gigabit of bandwidth with all the features of digital connectivity that matter most – speed, reliability and wifi infrastructure. The buildings also provide environmentally sustainable BREEAM ratings.

The accommodation offered across Clyde Gateway ranges from smaller multi-let spaces such as Red Tree Rutherglen to larger industrial spaces at Clyde Gateway East, adjacent to Junction 2a of the M74. For SMEs that want to bring in bigger teams, larger space options are available at Rutherglen Links Business Park and The Albus and Olympia buildings in Bridgeton. Our newest flagship development is Magenta at Clyde Gateway. Together with our development partner, Highbridge Properties, Magenta will bring 1.2 million square feet over 27 acres. This vast regeneration project will become one of the UK’s largest office parks and is expected to bring around 12,000 jobs to the area.

The site will be able to accommodate large modern floorplates which can be tailored to meet a company’s exact needs, together with premium, well-connected road and rail links.

Large employers like Police Scotland have reaped big benefits from locating more than 1,000 administrative, finance, and IT staff here. Other dynamic and creative businesses, including SPIE UK, Glacier Energy, MadeBrave, Peebles Media, BT and MEPC have invested in Clyde Gateway since our regeneration activities got underway.

Our successes in recent years are evidence that satellite business districts work, and provide a sustainable way to deliver high-quality business stock across any of our city-regions. Perhaps we can bring an end to that conundrum.

• Ian Manson is chief executive of Clyde Gateway

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