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LONDON-Central London had 12.8 million sf of empty office space at the end of October 2001, according to brokers DTZ Debenham Tie Leung. This represents a vacancy ratio of 6.4%, which is low by the standards of the early 1990s. But significantly, vacancies rose by 25% during the month of October alone.

The surge was caused primarily by the release of second hand space on to the market, as development completions remained under control. DTZ calculates that only 1.5 million sf of newly built or refurbished space is currently available across London.

Vacancies grew in all sub-markets, but the growth was strongest in Docklands and the City. In the City availability increased by 38%, to just over 4 million sf or 5.4% of stock. In Docklands the release of 200,000 sf by Citigroup pushed vacancies to nearly 900,000 sf or 7.5% of stock. And outside Canary Wharf nearly 20% of the office stock in Docklands is now on the market.

Based on October’s take-up of 1.4 million sf, DTZ is forecasting total take up for the year of around 18 million sf, putting 2001 on a par with 1998 and 1999 but significantly down on the record levels seen in 2000.

John Forrester, Head of Business Space at DTZ said: ‘This leap in availability is not a surprise, as a substantial part relates to space released following the heavy activity in pre-leasing in 1999 and 2000. Much of the space being placed onto the market was acquired for perceived future growth, and the recent economic environment has resulted in this space now being off-loaded.’

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