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LONDON-Prime West End rents fell 6% from £82.50 ($120) to £77.50 ($113) per sf over the third quarter of 2001, according to new research from Insignia Richard Ellis. The change reflects a fall in take-up to 770,000 sf in the quarter, down from one million sf in the previous quarter.

IRE suggests that the West End market is returning to normal levels of activity after last year’s TMT-led ‘spike’. The West End saw supply increase from 3.2 million sf to 4.3m sf over the quarter, most of which was newly built or recently refurbished stock which has been returned to the market. This has taken the West End vacancy rate to 4%.

Other sub-markets fared better during the quarter, however, with top City rents holding steady at £63.00 ($92) per sf. Take-up in the City rose to 1.56 million sf in the third quarter compared to 1.42 million sf in the second, leaving 4.4 million sf available. In Midtown, IRE calculates that top rents are still £55 ($80) per sf after take-up of 220,000 sf, leaving 1.1 million sf available.

Stewart Smith, Head of the West End Agency at IRE said: ‘Given the current political and economic uncertainties we are not surprised to see a reduction in business activity in the West End.’ But he did forecast that some significant deals would be struck before the end of the year.

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