A year in review: Hartnell Taylor Cook enjoys another successful Bristol bus tour



The past year has seen an influx of change within the Bristol commercial property market and we enjoyed welcoming over 50 clients based in London, the south west and from further afield on our recent tour to reflect on the past year of development; the magnitude of which is reassuring in the face of last year’s economic challenges.

Hartnell Taylor Cook Commercial Property Review bus tour 2024

The tour – by bus and by boat – included major development schemes, both existing and proposed; which provided evidence of the changes the city has undergone throughout the turbulent year as development activity continues to emerge throughout the city.

This year, we highlighted industrial and logistics activity in the Severnside and Avonmouth regions, before returning back to the city centre via some of Bristol’s iconic sites to look at the commercial sector in the Central Business District. We have provided a summary below of Bristol’s commercial property landscape and the key changes within the sectors, for anyone who was unable to make the bus tour this year.

Investment

The office investment market has faced a challenging year, with the total UK investment figures of £10.4 billion – 45% lower than that of 2022 and well below the £23.2 billion ten-year annual average. 

The uncertainty of the market, combined with a lack of liquidity due to investor sentiment, high borrowing costs, and an unwillingness by vendors to sell at reduced costs meant the biggest drop leaned towards the larger deals. This lack of liquidity is demonstrated by the £80m total value of offices that were completed in only 6 deals. Despite this, green shoots were already emerging at the end of 2023; and 2024 has started on an upward trajectory as confidence improves and pricing restabilises, with approximately £192m of office investment sales now completed. 

Industrial

On the whole, Bristol’s industrial and logistics market saw lower volumes of activity throughout 2023, however there was retained demand for units sub 20,000sq ft.

Supply currently sits at 2.5 million sq ft – with a strong pipeline of development nearing completion or finalised. The economic landscape – such as rising construction costs, and softening yields – has consequently meant less activity ongoing in the market. However, glimpses of a stabilising economy mean that the property cycle is likely to enter a new phase of increased appetite in 2024 and we remain optimistic.

Office

Following a stellar 2022, the office market cooled in 2023, reflective of the poor UK economic conditions. Despite this, the market showed resilience and 2024 has already shown an improved outlook with larger enquiries driving take up.

The occupier flight to quality has led to increasing competition for the best class floor space – aiding continued improvement in rents in the city centre, which has led to deals being agreed on new build Cat A space at new record rents for the city.

Retail

Bristol’s retail sector has faced challenges with Bristol City Council’s planning department being placed under special measures, combined with a lack of significant leasing deals in the city centre and surrounding areas. Despite this, the pipeline outlook is strong with important developments such as Haymarket Premier Inn, Debenhams Horsefair and Rupert Street NCP Car Park providing an optimistic indication of what may be bubbling under the surface.

Chris Grazier, Head of Hartnell Taylor Cook’s Bristol office commented:

The Bristol bus tour is a landmark in our annual calendar as it provides an opportunity to celebrate the resilience of Bristol’s commercial market and to look ahead at the pipeline of upcoming developments. This year’s tour, as ever, provided a great day for our clients to get together and see with their own eyes the exciting developments in Bristol’s commercial property market.

Many thanks to all those who attended – we look forward to welcoming you on board again next year

To find out more about office lettings in Bristol, get in touch with Chris Grazier via [email protected].

The past year has seen an influx of change within the Bristol commercial property market and we enjoyed welcoming over 50 clients based in London, the south west and from further afield on our recent tour to reflect on the past year of development; the magnitude of which is reassuring in the face of last year’s economic challenges.
Hartnell Taylor Cook commercial property review 2024
Hartnell Taylor Cook commercial property review 2024

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