The London Office Crane Survey
Navigating through uncertainty
Despite ongoing uncertainties surrounding Brexit, the last couple of years demonstrated that demand for office space in London has been strong. However, transaction volumes in Q1 2019, when the UK was expected to be leaving the EU, were unsurprisingly subdued, with businesses delaying leasing and investment decisions.
Since the date to leave the EU has now been delayed, will the slowdown in demand continue, and will this also start to impact office construction levels?
- Key findings from our latest survey
- Explore our data
- Discover our infographics
- About the report
- Previous editions
- Office construction volumes are up by 12% on our previous survey driven by more new starts
- 37 new schemes broke ground, adding 3.5m sq ft into the development pipeline
- New-build starts represented 64% of all new starts in 16 schemes
- 55% of space under construction is already let
- Financial Services are pre-letting more space. Technology, media and telecoms (TMT) also further increased its share, from 29% to 35%
- Completions fall by 50%, to 2.1m sq ft
- 2019 office completions are set to match 2018 total
Explore our data
Number of new
Total amount under
Amount of space under
Key business sectors
Office development pipeline
Number of schemes
million sq ft
% new build vs
Central London office space under construction and number of new starts
Occupier leasing activity on space under construction
Total sq ft:
Construction activity is up, driven by more new starts
Following a dip in construction activity in our previous survey, total office space under construction between October 2018 and March 2019 amounted to 13.2 million sq ft, 12% up compared to the previous survey and above the long-term half-yearly average of 10.5 million sq ft.
Encouragingly, the volume of new starts is also the highest since our Q1 2016 survey, during the lead-up to the EU referendum. With 3.5 million sq ft of new office construction activity across 37 new schemes, the volume is 38% higher than in the previous survey.
The up-tick in construction activity in the run-up to the originally scheduled EU departure date of March 2019 is remarkable, given the magnitude of political and economic uncertainty. It demonstrates that developers have not delayed their construction plans and have confidence in the London leasing market over the long term.
Financial services pre-lets increase
Pre-letting is reaching new heights in London. Of all the space currently under construction, 55% has already been committed to, which represents a gradual uplift over the past few years. We found in this survey that leasing prior to completion was especially prominent for size ranges above 100,000 sq ft, where 78% has already been committed to.
Following subdued pre-letting activity from Financial Services occupiers in our previous two surveys, the latest figures show a rise in leased space under construction by 50% to 2.1m sq ft. Financial Services increased its share from 24% to 29% survey on survey, suggesting that the sector remains committed to London. TMT has also further increased its proportion of acquired space under construction, from 29% to 35%.
Long term pipeline is diminishing
Even though there was an up-tick in office construction levels, the overall pipeline under construction and proposed schemes declined by 23% over the past two years. What does it mean to the London office market? And is the tide about to turn for second-hand office space?
About the London Office Crane Survey report
Established more than 20 years ago, the London Office Crane Survey monitors the supply of new office developments in the main central London markets and emerging submarkets. The report:
- Is the most authoritative guide to current and future construction levels
- Provides findings that are of importance to investors, developers and occupiers alike
- Is regarded as a key indicator of London’s economic health.
View previous editions of the London Office Crane Survey to see how office development in London has changed over time: