The South East office market enjoyed a much-needed uptick in take-up during the final quarter of 2020. 

Data from Avison Young reveals that take-up reached 398,340 sq ft in Q4, marking a 23.5% rise on Q3 2020 and outperforming Q4 2019 by 10.2%.  

Q4 was the second strongest quarter of the year behind Q1.  

However, only Watford and Oxford outperformed their 2019 full year take up levels with Cambridge also proving resilient. The rest of the 10 South East markets suffered the effects of the global pandemic, with total take up for the year down 49.5% on the 5-year annual average.  

Key office occupational transactions in Q4 included Mathworks taking a 10-year straight lease for a 93,000 sq ft pre-let at Cambridge Science park; Native Antigen Company 45,000 sq ft on a 15-year lease at Oxford Technology Park; and CGI’s deal of 44,850 sq ft at 350 Brook Drive in Reading on a nine-year lease.

While Q4 2020 represented the second most active quarter of 2020 in terms of volume, this is in part due to Cadillac Fairview’s acquisition of the Broadcast Centre in White City, which accounted for approximately 35% of the quarter’s volume. 

Overall, Q4 volumes were down on the five-year annual average by approximately 33% and 49% down on Q4 2019.

Piers Leigh, principal, South East offices at Avison Young, said: “Oxford was the out-performer of 2020 setting a new headline rent and outperforming 2019’s take up. The Investment market in Q4 saw an unprecedented amount of stock coming to the market but not all led to transactions, as investors became more selective in their approach. Overall, 2020 was a year to forget for the office market with take up 50% below the 5-year average and investment volumes down 27.5%.”