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LONDON-Prime West End rents fell from £85 ($120) to £83.50 ($118) per sf over the third quarter of 2001, according to new research from King Sturge. The agent says a fall in take-up and a rise in availability is responsible for the weakness.

During the quarter West End availability rose 26% to 3.1 million sf. The vacancy rate is now 151% higher than it was this time last year. And take-up fell 33% over the quarter, although 575,000 sf of floorspace was still leased or sold and 550,000 sf was under offer at the end of the quarter.

Construction starts in the West End actually increased despite the weakening market, with 777,000 sf of construction beginning. The biggest start was the 520,000-sf 2 Marsham Street in Victoria, which has been pre-let to the Home Office. Overall, King Sturge calculates that 35% of the total construction pipeline is either pre-let or pre-sold.

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