Elizabeth Delivers!

February 12, 2024
News & Insights
It’s now just over a year since The Elizabeth Line arrived in Reading, connecting the town to the centre of London, reducing commuting times. With The Blade just over 5 minutes’ walk to the station, the Crossrail connection, as it was originally named, meant that our occupiers could go from their desks to the West End in an hour and all the way to Canary Wharf in less than an hour-and-a-half.

The Reading connection to the line had always been heralded as a major coup for the town and even before the new lined opened, demand for commercial space was peaking, despite post-covid changes to the requirements for office space. Reading, and other locations along the route, continued to buck the trend – in anticipation of faster connection times. But like many big infrastructure projects, we’re promised a lot, but rarely do we get chance to cycle back round and see if the reality lives up to the expectation.

Well, property experts Knight Frank have done just that, and the headline is Elizabeth delivers! From the first day that the Crossrail project was announced, house prices rose along the route and there was a renewed interest in commercial property around the key hubs that would make up the Berkshire connections.  This interest drove something of a revolution with commercial property owners upgrading their spaces in order to appeal to the best occupiers whilst alongside, residential developers and the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors all began investing too.

The result has been a renaissance for places like Reading and the research by Knight Frank bears this out. In their report they make clear that the nine locations along the Elizabeth Line that fall within the South East commercial property market have accounted for 25% of total office take-up. That equates to 11.8 million square feet!

But even within those figures, it looks as though Reading is coming out on top, accounting for 45% of that space. In respect of what that space looks like, it is those high-end options, like The Blade, that have been the focus for occupiers. The research picks out that 95% of the most recent lettings (late 2022 to late 2023) were for prime new office buildings, or ones comprehensively refurbished to meet modern standards – either in their entirety, or, like The Blade, offering highly flexible shared spaces/floors.

Everything in the report from Knight Frank, seems to echo our own experience of the Elizabeth Line impact on Reading’s fortunes. We’ve not only seen an uptick in the number of enquiries since the connection opened, but importantly, speaking to existing and prospective occupiers they are citing connectivity as a key reason for choosing Reading because of what it can offer now and well into the future. Like us, they clearly expect Reading to continue to go from strength to strength.

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