Last year’s Oxfordshire commercial property market was dominated by the technology and science sector, with record take up figures and new high rental levels, writes Gill Oliver.

According to the newly published VSL & Partners annual commercial property market review, total take-up reached 488,999 sq ft – the highest on record and a 50 per cent increase on the 2016 level.

And 70 per cent, or 342,000 sq ft, of all office take up was to the technology sector.

A combination of factors are driving demand from the technology sector here, says the report.

It found a clear environment for entrepreneurship and innovation, radiating from the Universities and backed by newly available finance from Oxford Sciences Innovation plc and the emergence of flexible start-up space across the county.

A number of companies are emerging to dominate at the larger end of the market such as Immunocore and Apdaptimmune at Milton Park and Oxford Biomedica and Oxford Nanopore Technology in Oxford.

VSL recorded a total of 53 office transactions in 2017 with 31 or 58 per cent accounted for by the technology sector.

Likewise, the technology sector continues to drive demand in the industrial market, accounting for 28 per cent take-up which is similar to 2016 but up from just 5 per cent in 2015.

The industrial market saw the best year for take-up since 2003, with total take-up reaching around 1.1 million sq.ft and supply levels stable at 1,033,000 sq. ft.

Richard Venables, director at VSL & Partners said: “Rents in both the office and industrial market have continued to increase.

“Prime office rents in Oxford city centre have now reached £30 per sq ft which will give further encouragement to developers to consider speculative development throughout the market.’’

Co-director Tom Barton added: “Industrial buildings that are suitable for the technology markets have seen the focus on rental growth and rents at Oxford Industrial Park have now reached £12 per sq ft following a letting to Oxford Photovoltaics.

“It is likely that these properties will continue to be the focus of rental growth during 2018.”

He added: “Oxford is the focus of considerable attention from Whitehall and the announcement in the Autumn Budget Statement of £215m funding towards its infrastructure will further improve the prospects for this area.

“We are confident of the continued expansion of the technology sector and its positive impact on the commercial property market.”

The VSL report focused on the office and industrial market in central Oxford and the A34 Innovation Knowledge Corridor for offices from 3,000 sq ft and above and industrial from 5,000 sq ft and above.

To read the full report, see ?