Reading

The Thames Valley M4 market as a whole had a year to forget in terms of take up and the fortunes of Reading the self-styled capital of the Thames Valley reflected this. We had to wait for Q4 for the first transaction outside a regear to breach the 5,000 sq ft mark in the town centre. This happened with Cellnex acquiring 10,239 sq ft of the former Northgate space at R+ on assignment of the lease running until November 2027. Out of town transaction sizes were also small by historic comparison with only 5 transactions all year above 10,000 sq ft and not a single transaction above 50,000 sq ft. Take up this quarter has been slower than expected, the only deal of note being Commvault’s relocation to 1330 Arlington Business Park in July, advised by Avison Young, where they have taken the top floor comprising 12,900 sq ft and committing to a ten-year lease without breaks. Shoosmiths decided to re-gear their lease at Apex Plaza for a further ten years with a break in the fifth; following the cautious approach of Osbourne Clarke, Kyocera and Jacobs, who all chose to re-gear their leases last quarter rather than relocate. There are a healthy number of deals which are currently under offer that we anticipate will complete next quarter.

Overall take up for 2020 was just short of 240,000 sq ft which is the lowest level of take up since 2009 and not even the half the five-year annual average. Unlike a number of towns in this report Reading has not suffered from a lack of supply with the overall vacancy rate the highest of our SE 10 submarkets.

We expect take up to bounce back in 2021 as it has done previously after a poor year but with restrictions on office use set to be in place for most of the first half of 2021 in some form or another, it looks to be another challenging year for the town and the Thames Valley market as a whole. We expect incentives to remain generous but overall headline rents on prime properties to hold up with secondary accommodation likely to see significant further downward pressure on rents. For occupiers confident of their future occupational needs H1 2021 should offer some exceptional bargains in a market with good levels of supply.

Q4 TAKE-UP

Town Centre

25,760 sq ft

Out of Town

60,110 sq ft

Grade A: 81,840 sq ft

Grade B: 4,030 sq ft

ANNUAL TAKE-UP

READING VACANCY RATES Q4 2020

9.2% 15.4%

HEADLINE RENT

Town Centre

£38.00 per sq ft

Out of Town

£36.75 per sq ft

KEY SECTOR ACTIVITY

Computing & Software

44,860 sq ft (52.2%)

Telecommunications

25,490 sq ft (29.7%)

Insurance, Pensions & Asset Management

4,800 sq ft (5.6%)

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