In my role as Scaleup Enabler for the West of England, one of my pet topics has been office space availability, affordability and suitability for fast growth companies. When I first started exploring the barriers to growth in the region in June 2017, office space was the most mentioned challenge. Approximately 90% of the people that I spoke to – whether individual founders/business leaders or managers of co-working and grow on space would explain that the lack of space was negatively impacting growth, compounded no doubt by other barriers such as availability of suitable staff and of access to investment.
We were, according to the industry experts, at a 20 year low in terms of office space availability in 2016 (particularly in Bristol) and it was evident that incubators were full and therefore struggling to welcome new, smaller companies into their communities. Future Space, SETsquared Bristol and the Bristol and Bath Science Park were all reporting the same challenge.
Through my work between June 2017 and June 2018, I shared a number of blogs and ran events and roundtable discussions to encourage exploration and innovative responses to this challenge. Colleagues across the city tried to sub-let space but found restrictions in their leases that prohibited them, whilst others went on to found more creative solutions.
The most innovative response to this challenge that I’ve seen so far has been developed by the team at DNA Worldwide Group – Frome Business Park. As a growing company with a team of 80 people and significant aspirations for further growth, the team at DNA Worldwide Group identified a deserted warehouse of 23,000sqft and have converted it into a business park which is more than 80% let just a few weeks after opening. They have also taken the initiative to set up a café on site in collaboration with a barista – Tool and Gauge. The vision of a space that helps to support employee wellbeing, reduces absenteeism and enables productivity is particularly appealing and the space looks beautiful too!
You’ll find a map of all the spaces that I found in my initial search, here: https://scaleupgenerator.co.uk/?exc=10-11-12-13-14-15
But there is lots more movement in the market on the horizon and particularly planned for launch in the next 18 – 24 months so, with some help from my friends at Morton Property Consultants, I have put this quick list together to share an update. There’s a flurry of new office space currently on the market including:
- Desklodge House, Bristol 28,000sqft is open and inviting tenants
- Podville, Bradley Stoke, Bristol – 12 shipping containers available in Bradley Stoke for teams of 4-6 people
- SquareWorks, Central Bristol – recently opened and part of The Square
- Origin Workspace, Central Bristol is undergoing a significant, staged refurbishment with space already available
- Rural Enterprise Centre, Shepton Mallet – test kitchen, event and office space
And in terms of developments that are in the pipeline for the next few years, if you’re planning for growth you might want to look at:
- Fermentation buildings, Central Bristol – 16,000sq ft in Summer 2019. 3,200sqft of the second floor will go to Channel 4
- The Distillery, Central Bristol – 92,000sqft in April 2020
- Cargo Work, Central Bristol – up to 22,000sqft in Spring 2020 – 90 shipping containers over 5 levels near Wapping Wharf
- Foodworks, Weston Super Mare, J21 – March 2020 Eight 1000 sq/ft and four 1500 sq/ft purpose built food-grade business units and four product development rooms
- Assembly Bristol, Central Bristol – 191,000sqft in November 2020
- Halo, Central Bristol (formerly the Fire Station) 116,000sqft
- Generator building, Central Bristol – 30,611sqft for tech, media and creative – purchased by Castleforge Partners.
- Engine Shed 2, Central Bristol – 38,000sqft in 2021
- Newark Works, Bath – 45,000sqft creative workspace by TCN on South Quays in Bath in Spring 2021
- No1 Bath Quays, Bath – 54,000sqft grade A new-build office space on South Quays in Bath in Spring 2021
- Roseberry Place, Bath – 50,000sqft
- Temple Quarter Enterprise Campus, Bristol – the first building in the new University of Bristol campus will include some grow-on space – anticipated opening Autumn 2022
- Forward Space has a number of properties in differing stages of development:
- – Hamilton house refurbishment for creative industries 55,000sqft
- – 2021 Bedminster Brewyard 20,000sqft
- – Galleries development at TK Maxx – 30,000sqft development – end 2019 / 2020
- – Exeter – warehouse 16,000sqft
- – Taunton – Refurbishment of the Collar Factory
And there are a couple of spaces that are on the (even) longer list
- Mainline, Patchway Bristol – A 4-storey shipping container block has been proposed near Patchway station
- Soapworks, Bristol (Gardiner Haskins)
Our understanding is that there is currently 200,000sq ft of known unsatisfied demand in the region so these new spaces can’t come soon enough. This is also a strong indicator of the continued economic growth of Bristol and Bath as global trading posts and desired locations.
As a potential tenant, if you would like to know more, please get in touch with the associated commercial lettings agent – you will find more information about all these spaces available after a quick google!
Should you want to find out more, my previous insights into this topic can be found here: https://scaleupgenerator.co.uk/challenges/infrastructure
If you know about other office spaces that would be useful for everyone to know about and that I should have included, please get in touch!
If you are keen to learn more about the support available for scaling companies in the West of England, please check out scaleupgenerator.co.uk and get in touch with email@example.com as she is our regional Scale up Enabler. The Scaleup Enabler is a collaboration between Engine Shed and the West of England Growth Hub/LEP. This article was originally posted in the Engine Shed news.