This past year has been a pivotal year for property and development interests in Cambridge.
If 2013 could be characterised by the phrase ‘that was the pre-let year that was’ – and, boy, was it – 2014 has been the year in which commercial property interests were pre-occupied with what and who is coming next, more than the more obvious of what is being built now.
Considerations of the ‘where’ and the ‘when’ are what will be worrying agents in Cambridge and its sub-region as we face 2015.
In the middle of 2012, agents were flagging-up a list of concerns about supply/demand tensions, the paucity of Grade A accommodation, the development pipeline and its draw- down rate which painted a very interesting picture of what mid-2015 might look like.
Concern about that scenario remains. If anything, an increased flurry, since 2012, of blue-chip corporates’ interest in having a Cambridge base has tightened the screw.
Odd to think that the prospect of big fees should furrow agents’ brows – but it does because it means our job is more difficult.
We can be a perverse bunch, us property people. Our approach to mindfulness concentrates on the future as much as the here and now – if not more - when it comes to land supply and the planning timeline when the necessary process of application, consultation and approval can lag somewhat far behind commercial pressures to deliver.
So many cranes in the city centre, the new Cambridge Biomedical Campus and the extension of the established Science Park can be cold comfort for property future-gazers.
While a testament to development and planning success in years past, we can only hope they are also indicative of future successes too upon securing identified land.
As the year ends, property ‘twitchers’ aren’t looking at the cranes but towards the policy and practical debates surrounding the progression of the Local Plans of Cambridge City Council and South Cambridgeshire District Council.
These parallel plans, in which sites and numbers for development to last on a rolling, 20-year programme in these two hothouse areas of the country, are scheduled for adoption in autumn next year.
The official adoption of these plans is keenly anticipated by the city’s commercial property agents as, by the middle of 2015, opportunities to actively pre-let from the planned and being built new stock will be more, or less, exhausted.
For those Cambridge occupiers in-situ who still hold on to the belief that when they need to move to new premises in the city, there will be property just waiting for them, 2015 and 2016 holds a surprise in store.
Once again, we repeat our call for property to be higher up the operational business agenda in the way it is for investors who continue to look at the stellar performance of Cambridge when it comes to returns on the best property investments.
It’s not necessarily a new year message. It’s a message for all seasons and one which agents never tire of repeating.