Birmingham city centre office market 2023 review

The Birmingham office market 2023 demonstrated continued resilience. With a bumper Q4 delivering the highest quarter of the year, annual take-up totalled 702,993 sq ft across 109 deals.

Mills & Reeve topped the quarter with 32,088 sq ft at One Centenary Way in Paradise Birmingham [above image courtesy of ©Greg Holmes on behalf of Howells]. This spotlights the ‘flight to quality’ trend as organisations look to enhance their presence in thriving city-centre locations. By expanding into modern office space that blends excellent working environments with lifestyle features like gyms and restaurants, occupiers can remain competitive in a bid to attract and retain top talent.

Reception within One Centenary Way, Paradise Birmingham - featured in KWB's Birmingham office market 2023 review
One Centenary Way, Paradise, Birmingham city centre - [image courtesy of ©Greg Holmes on behalf of Howells]

Birmingham office market annual take-up (sq ft)

Graph depicting Birmingham office market annual take-up (sq ft) over the last 10 years in KWB's Q4 Birmingham office market research

7 0 2 , 9 9 3

total take-up (sq ft)

5 9 , 8 9 6

largest transaction (sq ft)

1 0 9

total transactions

7 4 9 , 1 1 1

10-year average (sq ft)

Q4 2023 saw three deals over 20,000 sq ft, totalling 89,060 sq ft.

This represents over a third (37%) of the quarter’s final overall take-up of 240,274 sq ft.

We can compare this to an average of 46% of deals over 20,000 sq ft in the whole of 2023.

Q4 2023 at a glance

One and Two Chamberlain Square, Paradise, Birmingham city centre - Dains secured the last available space at Two Chamberlain Square in the Birmingham office market 2023 Q4 figures

Key Birmingham office transactions

37 deals make Q4 strongest quarter of 2023

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One Centenary Way, Paradise, Birmingham city centre secured the largest deal of Q4 in the Birmingham office market 2023

Mills & Reeve signs largest deal of Q4

Legal experts secure 32,088 sq ft at One Centenary Way

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6 Brindleyplace, Birmingham city centre where Lloyd's Bank’s temporary move to almost 60,000 sq ft was the largest letting for both Q3 and the entire year for the Birmingham office market 2023

Lloyds Bank lands 2023’s largest deal

Biggest flexible office deal outside of London at almost 60,000 sq ft

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Norfolk House where Global Banking School took more than 29,000 sq ft in Q4 in an upward trend for the education sector in the Birmingham office market 2023

Global Banking School continues upward trajectory of growth

Deal sees Norfolk House secure full occupancy

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9 Colmore Row offices Birmingham city centre, where the Crown Prosecution Service took 27,589 ft across three floors in Q4 of the Birmingham office market 2023

Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) relocates within the city’s business district

Government occupier takes three floors in 9 Colmore Row

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103 Colmore Row, Birmingham city centre where No5 Barristers’ Chambers took 18,816 sq ft of space on part of the fourth floor and the seventh floor of the 230,084 sq ft landmark office building during Q4

No5 Chambers take-up of Birmingham’s tallest building

‘Flight to quality’ continues with move to 103 Colmore Row

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Victoria Square House, Victoria Square, Birmingham city centre where the Office of the Public Guardian signed an agreement for more office space

Government cements its presence with city expansion

More space secured at Victoria Square House

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Waterloo House, Colmore Business District, Birmingham city centre where four companies leased a total of 6,890 sq ft in Q4

Waterloo House closes Q4 with four lettings

mfg, eCapital, CarneySweeny and Fox Cooper snap up space.

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Two Chamberlain Square, Paradise, Birmingham city centre where accountancy firm, Dains, took the last space in Q4

Final spots secured at Two Chamberlain Square

Building secures deal with Dains totalling 12,147 sq ft

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Colmore Gate, Colmore Business District, Birmingham city centre

Outlook for Birmingham office market 2024

Advice for occupiers and landlords

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Key Birmingham office transactions

After a slower Q3, Birmingham’s office market reemerged with 37 transactions in Q4 – making it the most successful quarter of 2023.

This final push in deals saw Birmingham surpass a total of 700,000 sq ft in annual take-up for the first time since 2019, when take-up topped 780,095 sq ft. The city has remained resilient post-pandemic and annual take-up has continued to climb by 10,293 sq ft from 2022 to 2023.

20,000-50,000 sq ft accounts for almost 40% of total take-up

A significant part of the Birmingham office market’s success in 2023 can once again be attributed to the 20,000-50,000 sq ft size bracket, which accounted for 264,722 sq ft, 38% of take-up, up from 25% in 2022.

Graph showing Birmingham office market take-up by size band over the last 5 years

Top three sectors deliver 71%

These included professional services; education, recruitment and training; and financial. Legal and civil engineering were prominent sub-sectors within the professional services category.

The largest deal in the city and the biggest flexible office letting outside London in 2023 saw Lloyds Bank take 59,896 sq ft of office space at 6 Brindleyplace. The bank’s 2,260 staff were relocated to the managed office space within the building, while it refurbishes its existing Birmingham headquarters at 125 Colmore Row.

The second largest deal saw QA Higher Education take 45,180 sq ft at Louisa Ryland House on Newhall Street. This represents a strong year for the education sector, which delivered 21 transactions totalling 261,656 sq ft – the majority in Q2.

Graph showing Birmingham office market take-up by business sector over the last 5 years

Growing sectors to watch out for over the next 12 months include:

  • Medtech – Birmingham’s life sciences sector continues to grow and in Q1 2023, Adthera Bio expanded with a new lease agreement for 4,262 sq ft on the 12th floor at Lyndon House on Hagley Road. The company already had an established presence in Edgbaston and has relocated from Birmingham Research Park on the University of Birmingham Campus. Others who moved to Edgbaston were Veincentre in Q2 and Perinatal Institute in Q4 – both taking offices on Greenfield Crescent in Edgbaston Village.

 

  • Civil engineering – in 2023, there were the same number of office transactions for civil engineering (9) as there were in 2022. This is a sector that performs consistently and, with the amount of regeneration and infrastructure work throughout the city, we can only expect this to continue to grow.

 

One and Two Chamberlain Square, Paradise, Birmingham city centre - Dains secured the last available space at Two Chamberlain Square in the Birmingham office market 2023 Q4 figures
One and Two Chamberlain Square, Paradise, Birmingham city centre

Key Birmingham office market 2023 transactions

QuarterOffice buildingSize (sq ft)OccupierSector
Q36 Brindleyplace59,896Lloyds BankFinancial
Q1Louisa Ryland House45,180QA Higher EducationEducation
Q2Louisa Ryland House36,343Re-DefinedServiced offices
Q4One Centenary Way32,088Mills & ReeveLegal
Q4Norfolk House29,383Global Banking School (GBS)Education
Q49 Colmore Row27,589Crown Prosecution Service (CPS)Government
Q1The Citadel27,006Aston UniversityEducation
Q2156 Great Charles Street22,924Arden UniversityEducation
Q1The Colmore Building22,709AONInsurance
Q254 Hagley Road21,500UK Curriculum and Accreditation Body (UKCAB)Insurance
Total324,61846% of take-up, 10 transactions

Mills & Reeve signs largest deal of Q4

In the Birmingham office market’s largest letting of Q4 2023, legal expert, Mills & Reeve, took 32,088 sq ft at One Centenary Way in Paradise Birmingham.

Mills & Reeve provides a full legal service, including corporate, banking, commercial, employment, private wealth, real estate and family. After 18 years at Colmore Row, the firm will occupy the fourth and fifth floors of the 280,000 sq office building from Q1 2024.

This follows expansion to more than 300 employees in Mills & Reeve’s Birmingham team, who will share the building with other professional services occupiers including Goldman Sachs, JLL and Arup. Designed by Arup in partnership with Glenn Howells Architects, One Centenary Way is the Arup’s second largest UK base of operations and one of its five largest globally. The employee-owned, built environment consultancy moved from its former Solihull base at Blythe Valley Park to its new ‘city campus’ of 68,000 sq ft set across three floors of the 13-storey building.

One Centenary Way is an innovative new landmark for Birmingham that defines the next generation of sustainable working. The building is low carbon, all electric and features highly efficient floorplates that will allow Mills & Reeve to take more space going forward. It also has on-site facilities to promote staff wellbeing, including a cycle hub, storage, changing rooms and sauna.

Mills & Reeve’s move signals the ‘flight to quality’ trend and the uptick in organisations looking to enhance their presence in Birmingham. This will be a key driver as occupiers look to attract and retain the talent their business needs.

One Centenary Way, Paradise, Birmingham city centre secured the largest deal of Q4 in the Birmingham office market 2023
One Centenary Way, Paradise, Birmingham city centre

Jane Hussey, Partner and Head of the Birmingham office at Mills & Reeve, said: “Our decision to move to One Centenary Way reflects our commitment to minimising our impact on the environment and recognising our responsibility for guardianship of the environment. It’s one of the city’s most sustainable and SMART buildings providing cutting-edge technology, services and amenities, which reflect our corporate values and will support our future growth and ambitions.”

Lloyds Bank lands 2023’s largest deal

Lloyds Bank’s temporary move to almost 60,000 sq ft of 6 Brindleyplace was Birmingham’s largest letting for both Q3 and the entire year.

In August 2023, the bank signed a two-year agreement for the x+why’s serviced office space called Foundry within 6 Brindleyplace. Lloyds relocated its 2,260 staff to the development as the office refurbishment began on the group’s headquarters, 125 Colmore Row.

At 60,000 sq ft, the Lloyds Bank deal represented almost 50% of take-up for Q3, with 18 transactions totalling 131,504 sq ft. While the move is temporary, the bank is keen to encourage hybrid and hot-desk working options, and was provided with 800 desks to support this.

Located in the heart of Colmore Business District, Lloyds Bank occupies the entire 150,000 sq ft of 125 Colmore Row. The extensive refurbishment programme comes in a bid to drive 2030 sustainability targets, as well as provide better facilities for staff.

On Lloyds Bank’s temporary home at 6 Brindleyplace, Rupert Dean, Chief Executive and Co-founder of x+why, said: “It is a great story about how we can work within existing buildings to support larger requirements with a bespoke, low carbon, flexible space.” 

6 Brindleyplace is located in Birmingham’s Westside, which offers excellent transport links – including a dedicated tram stop. The district is fast-becoming one of the city’s main bases for the banking, professional and financial services community, and Lloyds Bank will join the likes of HSBC and The Unity Bank.

Matt Long, Head of Tenant Engagement & Placemaking at Brindleyplace, added: “Brindleyplace is uniquely placed to accommodate all sizes of business, from SMEs looking for a short-term lease to large corporates looking for larger regional or HQ function.”

6 Brindleyplace, Birmingham city centre where Lloyd's Bank’s temporary move to almost 60,000 sq ft was the largest letting for both Q3 and the entire year for the Birmingham office market 2023
6 Brindleyplace, Birmingham city centre

Global Banking School continues upward trajectory of growth

Following a move to Norfolk House in 2023, Global Banking School (GBS) took the remaining Grade A office space in Q4 2024 – seeing the building secure full occupancy.

Global Banking School took more than 29,000 sq ft on the fourth and fifth floors of the building. The private higher education provider already occupied the ground, first and third floors totalling 44,245 sq ft, with leading global professional services company, Accenture, taking the second floor.

Norfolk House comprises 92,431 sq ft of Grade A office space, which underwent substantial internal refurbishment between 2017 and 2018. It is one of the largest value assets in the REIT portfolio.

The deal represents a year of significant growth for Birmingham’s education sector, which saw 20 deals throughout 2023 – equating to 25% of the region’s office market (sq ft), compared with 17% in 2022 and 7% in 2021.

QuaterOffice buildingSize (sq ft)Occupier
Q1Louisa Ryland House45,180QA Higher Education
Q4Norfolk House29,383Global Banking School (GBS)
Q1The Citadel27,006Aston University
Q2156 Great Charles Street22,924Arden University
Q254 Hagley Road21,500UK Curriculum and Accreditation Body (UKCAB)
Q2Quayside Tower6,784Waltham International College (WIC Property)
Q2Assay Studios1,721Ormiston Academies Trust (OAT)
Q3Innovation Birmingham534GBS
Q4Innovation Studies157Midlands College of Commerce
Total155,18922% of take-up, 9 transactions
Norfolk House where Global Banking School took more than 29,000 sq ft in Q4 in an upward trend for the education sector in the Birmingham office market 2023
Norfolk House, Birmingham city centre

Stephen Inglis, CEO of London & Scottish Property Investment Management and Asset Manager for Norfolk House, said: “GBS was attracted to the high-standard refurbished property due to its ideal location, adjacent to Birmingham New Street railway station, and it being one of the few properties in Birmingham offering flexible floor plates in excess of 10,000 sq ft”.

Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) relocates within the city’s business district

In Q4, the Crown Prosecution Service took 27,589 ft across three floors of office space at 9 Colmore Row.

The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) now occupies the third, fourth and fifth floors of 9 Colmore Row, a striking 10-storey office building within Birmingham’s sought-after Colmore Business District.

The CPS sits alongside a range of well-respected occupiers across professional services and blue-chip organisations, including Turley, Capital Dynamics, Clearwater Corporate Finance and Smith & Williamson.

Across the West Midlands metropolitan area, the CPS employs 489 members of staff consisting of lawyers, paralegals and administrators. The majority of these are based at the regional headquarters in Birmingham.

The CPS moved from 2 Colmore Row, having previously occupied Colmore Gate, a prominent office block that is set to be partially demolished, renovated and expanded into a new complex reaching 26 storeys. In Q3 2024, plans were submitted to the city council for the Colmore Gate scheme, which could create thousands of new jobs and generate over £200 million in economic output annually.

9 Colmore Row offices Birmingham city centre, where the Crown Prosecution Service took 27,589 ft across three floors in Q4 of the Birmingham office market 2023
9 Colmore Row, Birmingham city centre

No5 Chambers take-up of Birmingham’s tallest building

As further testament to the commercial property market’s ‘flight to quality’, one of the UK’s best-known chambers is set to move into 103 Colmore Row by the end of Q1 2024.

During Q4 2023, No5 Barristers’ Chambers took 18,816 sq ft of space on part of the fourth floor and the seventh floor of the 230,084 sq ft landmark office building. It joins a well-respected roster of professional services and blue-chip occupiers, including EFG Harris Allday, Arcadis and Browne Jacobson.

103 Colmore Row’s on-site amenities include Orelle, the double-height restaurant on the 24th floor and ground floor bar and café, operated by D&D London, and a members’ business club, Eighteen, on the 18th floor. This is in addition to three floors of flexible office space, managed by x+why.

No5 Chambers has been in Birmingham city centre for a century and KWB Workplace, KWB’s independent design, office refurbishment and move management consultancy, is currently designing and fitting out their new office space at 103 Colmore Row, which is due for completion at the end of Q1 2024.

Prior to this, No5 Chambers had been based at its Fountain Court head office in Steelhouse Lane since the 1960s. In early 2020 before the UK went into lockdown, these offices were also transformed in a refurbishment by KWB Workplace.

103 Colmore Row, Birmingham city centre where No5 Barristers’ Chambers took 18,816 sq ft of space on part of the fourth floor and the seventh floor of the 230,084 sq ft landmark office building during Q4
103 Colmore Row, Birmingham city centre

Occupier lettings at 103 Colmore Row

QuarterYearSize (sq ft)OccupierSector
Q4202318,816No5 ChambersLegal
Q420232,815LGT Wealth ManagementProfessional services
Q3202312,162EFG Harris AlldayFinancial
Q220233,855HandlesbankenFinancial
Q1202312,158WeightmansLegal
Q3202212,178Facepunch StudiosGaming / TMT
Q320229,215ColliersCommercial property agents
Q2202212,132ArcadisCivil engineering
Q2202212,132RSMAccountants
Q1202212,132Browne JacobsonLegal
Q1202212,132GallagherInsurance
Q4202132,900ShoosmithsLegal
Q4202112,146Grant ThorntonAccountants
Q420214,300Knight FrankCommercial property agents
Q3202134,500X+WhyServiced offices
Q3202112,146Tilney Smith WilliamsonFinancial planning
Total215,719

Government cements its presence with city expansion

For a third year running, the Office of the Public Guardian has signed an agreement for more office space in Victoria Square House.

The government body will now occupy the majority of the building’s ground floor at 14,031 sq ft, in addition to the 37,293 sq ft acquired across 2022 and 2021, totalling 51,324 sq ft in the building.

Victoria Square House overlooks the civic heart of Birmingham and is adjacent to bustling Grand Central and New Street station. It has Metro and bus links right outside the door, as well as ample basement car parking with 500 spaces.

Victoria Square House, Victoria Square, Birmingham city centre where the Office of the Public Guardian signed an agreement for more office space
Victoria Square House, Chamberlain Square, Birmingham city centre

Waterloo House closes Q4 with four lettings

The final quarter of 2024 brought positive leasing activity for Waterloo House in the Colmore Business District, with four companies leasing a total of 6,890 sq ft.
Following an unprecedented year of growth and several new appointments, law firm mfg Solicitors snapped up the largest space within the building at 2,667 sq ft.

Joining mfg Solicitors at Waterloo House were three other businesses:

  • Alternative financing solutions provider, eCapital – 2,176 sq ft
  • Independent town planning consultancy, CarneySweeney – 1,270 sq ft
  • Civil engineers, Fox Cooper – 777 sq ft

This represents an integral quarter for Birmingham’s legal sector, which saw four transactions over Q4, after no activity in Q3.

Waterloo House, Colmore Business District, Birmingham city centre where four companies leased a total of 6,890 sq ft in Q4
Waterloo House, Colmore Business District, Birmingham city centre

Transactions in Waterloo House by year

QuarterYearSize (sq ft)OccupierSector
Q420232,667mfg SolicitorsLegal
Q420232,176EcapitalFinancial
Q420231,270Carney SweeneyProfessional services
Q42023777Fox CooperCivil engineering
Q220191,425Hawarth GroupProperty developer
Q320181,482Jung ShimHealth
Q320181,270Milner BrowneSoftware / TMT
Q220172,839Richborough EstatesProfessional services

Final spots secured at Two Chamberlain Square

In Q4, accountancy firm, Dains, took the last space at Paradise’s Two Chamberlain Square.

The accountancy firm took the remaining 12,147 sq ft of space on the third floor of the 183,000 sq ft building after trebling in size over the last two years.

Dains sits alongside a diverse mix of occupiers at Two Chamberlain Square, including DLA Piper, Atkins Realis, Mazars, Cazenove Capital and Knights. The building is also home to co-working and flexible office provider, Cubo, which took 12,459 sq ft of space across part of the third floor in Q2 2023.

As part of the Paradise redevelopment, Two Chamberlain has been built to a high standard along with One Chamberlain Square, which is wholly occupied by PWC.

Scheduled to open in 2025, construction work started on Three Chamberlain Square – “a building centred around the three principles of sustainability, wellbeing and place,” according to Alina White, Partner at architects Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios (FCBStudios).

Two Chamberlain Square, Paradise, Birmingham city centre where accountancy firm, Dains, took the last space in Q4
Two Chamberlain Square, Birmingham city centre [image courtesy of ©Hufton + Crow]

Ross Fittall, of Paradise development and asset manager MEPC, also commented: “Three Chamberlain Square has a prominent city centre location adjacent to the Town Hall. It will pay homage to the past while setting new standards of modern design, to create a place that will be transformative in its ability to bring opportunities and jobs to Birmingham.”

Outlook for Birmingham office market 2024

Buildings and developments on the horizon

  • Three Chamberlain Square – Phase Two construction of Three Chamberlain Square is now well underway. The building is set to add a further 189,000 sq ft to the Paradise estate and is due for completion in 2025.
  • One Ratcliffe Square Hotel – planning approval is also in place for a new 17-storey, 152-bedroom hotel on the corner of Paradise Street, as well as a new public square and a number of new pedestrianised streets.
  • Phase Three of the Paradise development – construction is due to start later this year on a range of commercial and mixed-use buildings across the northern part of the site.
  • Colmore Gate – plans were submitted in Q3 2023 to Birmingham City Council for the partial demolition, refurbishment and extension of Colmore Gate – a prominent office block in the Colmore Business District. The proposals would see the development of a new 26-storey tower and 10-storey shoulder building, which, according to the developer, Ashtrom Properties, could create thousands of new jobs and generate over £200 million in economic output annually.
  • Beorma Tower – construction started in Q3 2023 on the 30-storey tower, providing new-build office space, available from 7,000 – 153,000 sq ft, across 12 floors. This building differs from those in the city core in that it also includes 17 upper floors of residential space.

ESG is coming of age in 2024 and beyond

  • Biodiversity net gain – will come into effect on a phased basis in 2024, starting with larger schemes on 12 February and smaller schemes from April 2024.
  • Increased focus on emissions – as the UK heads towards the 2030 target of reducing carbon emissions by 68%, Birmingham’s commercial property world can expect a focus on both the use of sustainable construction materials and the environmental impact of the construction phase. The latter can include the transport of materials, the type of machinery used and the potential for materials to be reused to avoid wastage.
  • The Better Buildings Partnership – its toolkit on green leases was first published in 2013 and is due to be refreshed in early 2024. This could ignite discussions between landlords and tenants as to how environmental provisions can be included in their leases.

Advice for occupiers

As occupiers invest in Birmingham and strive to create the ideal environment for their teams, there is a universal focus on a property’s central location, connectivity and sustainability.

There is a need to retain and attract skilled staff, as employee expectations of the workplace have greatly increased since the pandemic.

From Colmore Business District to Chamberlain Square and Brindleyplace, occupiers are prioritising buildings with excellent transport links in and out of Birmingham, as well as easy access to retail and other local amenities. As more businesses embrace flexible working, occupiers are adapting accordingly to make hot-desking and hybrid working a reality.

With employees prioritising health and lifestyle as we continue to emerge from the global pandemic, more office buildings are integrating on-site gym facilities, cycle hubs and showers into their spaces.

We recommend occupiers look early for their next property as options will be limited in 2024. It’s also worth considering – can your current property be refurbished to better suit a flexible workplace?

If you’re a landlord considering refurbishment of your existing property, you’ll want to do this to the best possible standard to attract the best tenants.

However, whether a business is well established or fast-growing, value for money will continue to be their main driver as they navigate the cost-of-living crisis and how they incentivise employees to return to the office.

There is a notable upward trend in smaller occupiers taking up space below 3,000 sq ft across the city, with 62 transactions across 98,674 sq ft equating to 14% of annual take-up.

A property, such as Waterloo House with several lettings in 2023, is an excellent example of a building demonstrating the strong market for high-quality refurbishments that offer great value for money in the sub-£20 per sq ft rental market for smaller occupiers.

Colmore Gate, Colmore Business District, Birmingham city centre
Colmore Gate, Colmore Business District, Birmingham city centre
Internal office space at Foundry, Brindleyplace, where Lloyds Bank took 59,896 sq ft in the Birmingham office market

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2023 transactions

Stay tuned for Q1 2024!

View Q3 2023