If there is one part of the UK that needs to be nervous about the impact of Brexit then itmust surely be the City with its unparalleled network of international connections and trading.
Given its wide range of expertise there is, naturally, a considerable amount of analysis of what the changed relationship with the European Union will mean.
In suggesting that the commercial property market’s current positive cycle will slow over the next 18 months, John Ostroumoff, of City property advisors, Ostroumoff, counsels caution about the impact of Brexit given the vast range of the strength and skills of the markets in the City, quoting the current strength of the insurance market.
“But I believe it would be useful if the City had a committee or group of top executives that was solely devoted to the impact of Brexit and would be able to protect the position of the Square Mile”.
An obvious choice to provide a fulcrum for such an organisation would be the City of London Corporation with its wide ranging administrative strength.
Above all it is in the interests of the Corporation that the City remains the world’s leading financial centre. It could be argued that it is also in the interests of the European Union that this continues, rather than shifting to Shanghai or New York.
One group that is concerned about the impact of Brexit is the educational sector. The UK universities, boarding schools and other educational establishments attract huge numbers of foreign students. Apart from accommodation for such groups as language schools, it is also important for the residential market.
Michael Boardman of MB&A is a specialist in property for educational and office establishments, notably in Bloomsbury where there are clusters of educational groups operating, either universities or language schools.
“To illustrate how important this is for Bloomsbury and London in general”, said Boardman, “our research shows that 51% of the occupiers in Bedford Square are devoted to education. This has increased over the past few years”.
At the moment he has a number of foreign institutions seeking teaching and administrative space in the area with requirements of over 2,787 sq.metres (30,000 sq.ft.).
So far the Brexit vote has not deterred them from wanting to locate in London, Boardman said, but this is early days in the leaving process. Decisions may be helped by the decline in the value of sterling against foreign currencies, making it cheaper to take space in London.
An example of the deals highlighted by Boardman is the recent letting of 1,068 sq.metres (11,500 sq.ft.) at 46/47 Russell Square, WC1 to US overseas education services provider, CIEE.
The company has taken a new 15 year lease (at a mid £50s per sq.ft. rent) from the Bedford Estates, the leading landowner of Bloomsbury. Furthermore, the latest addition to Bedford Square, French school, L’Ecole Jeannine Manuel, is currently looking to expand its operation in the area and seeking new premises to teach from