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LONDON- Office take-up in the UK’s regional cities soared 63% in the six months to March 2004, according to DTZ’s UK Regional Offices Research. Nine of the 10 regional cities saw rising levels of take-up with Birmingham, Edinburgh, Belfast and Newcastle performing particularly well. Take-up in Leeds and Manchester remained relatively static with only a 1% increase in each city.

Occupier demand is being driven by the public sector, which accounted for a third of total take-up, but demand from the corporate sector fell by 18%. The surge in demand barely affected prime rents with the exceptions of Belfast (up 3.7%); Cardiff (2.8%); and Manchester (9%).

“The difficulties the office occupational market has experienced over the past 18 months appear to be receding with further signs of improvement in the UK’s major regional office markets,” says Peter Leyburn, director at DTZ. “Anecdotal evidence suggests that in the past few months there has been a cautious return in business confidence, which is now beginning to have a positive impact on the property market. Keeping this in mind, we are relatively optimistic about the outlook for the UK office market and expect to see further growth, albeit it slowly, in the coming six months.”The investment market also saw an 18% increase over the previous period to euro 1.1 billion ($1.3 billion), excluding portfolios. Most of the investment activity was in Birmingham, Cardiff and Manchester, which accounted for more than half of all regional investment activity in the regional centers.

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