2020 Business Predictions: Eamon Fox, partner and head of office agency at the Leeds office of Knight Frank

It’s that time of year, when Business Link Magazine invites the region’s business leaders to offer up their predictions for the year ahead. It has become something of a tradition, given that we’ve been doing this now for over 30 years.

While none of us possess a crystal ball, it is uncanny how accurate some of these forecasts have been over the years.

Here we talk with Eamon Fox, partner and head of office agency at the Leeds office of Knight Frank.

There is no doubt that 2020 is going to be an exciting and productive year for the office market in Leeds.

The headline rent of £30 per sq ft was reconfirmed in a number of lettings in 2019. Knight Frank have a number of significant lettings in legals at £32 psf, which will be publicised in the first quarter of the year. We expect £34 psf to be achieved by the end of 2020.

There are a number of developments to watch. Globe Square and Kings Court, the offices recently vacated by law firm Walker Morris, will be two schemes in the news. Kings Court will change hands soon, with the new owners planning a redevelopment of scale and   quality.

Award-winning CEG are likely to take forward the first building in Temple, which will see offices delivered in 2021. Meanwhile 34 Boar Lane, the prime mixed-use building transformed by developers Kinrise, will see a number of high-profile lettings this year.

Channel 4’s move to Rushbond’s flagship Grade II listed office building Majestic in City Square has really put it on the map. There are still three floors of the six-storey building to let, and, not surprisingly, there is serious interest in these.

Despite the ongoing Brexit talks, we are still seeing many businesses pressing ahead with expansion or relocation plans. This is against a backdrop of a severe lack of options and an office development pipeline that continues to be raided by early movers, which is why we are forecasting continued rent rises over the next three years.

It is also relevant to note that Prime Minister Boris Johnson is planning a big shift of civil servants out of London this year as part of his aim of “levelling up” opportunity and spreading wealth across the country. This could have major consequences for Leeds.