Birmingham office market research — Quarter 2 2023

In Q2, the Birmingham office market secured 36 transactions, double that of the previous quarter, with a notable flurry of lettings in Edgbaston.

So far, the city is performing close to its long-term average, with 177,665 sq ft this quarter.

The Q2 figures bring the Birmingham office market’s total for H1 to 331,215 sq ft. Once again, the education sector has had a strong presence at the top of the market, delivering two of the largest lettings of the quarter and adding to an impressive string of transactions to educational institutions over the past year or so.

Q2 2023 stats

1 7 7 , 6 6 5

total take-up (sq ft)

3 6 , 3 4 3

largest transaction (sq ft)

3 6

total transactions

Birmingham office market 2023 at a glance

  • Key transactions – top 5 transactions were all over 10,000 sq ft
  • Flight to quality quietens – fewer new grade A lettings this quarter
  • Looking into the size brackets – activity growth centres around sub 5,000 sq ft
  • Full house as serviced offices top the market – Louisa Ryland welcomes Re-Defined
  • Education continues letting streak – yet more lettings to the education sector
  • Edgbaston returns to the headlines – fringe area springs into life, led by 54 Hagley Road
  • Assay Studios secures eight – a flurry of small lettings land in Jewellery Quarter
  • Thirst for Cat A+ – landlords fit out their space to attract occupiers out of serviced space
  • Outlook – trends to continue and new office refurbishments underway

Key Birmingham office market transactions

Office buildingSize (sq ft)OccupierBusiness sector
Louisa Ryland House36,343Re-DefinedServiced offices
Crossway House22,924Arden UniversityEducation
54 Hagley Road21,500UK Curriculum and Accreditation Body (UKCAB)Education
One Centenary Way13,815JLLCommercial property
Two Chamberlain Square12,459CuboServiced offices
Total107,04160% of take-up5 transactions

The Birmingham office market’s top five deals this quarter were all over 10,000 sq ft and together they totalled 107,041 sq ft, with serviced offices and education sectors representing four of the five transactions. The majority of larger deals in the quarter signified expansions, demonstrating the confidence prominent occupiers have in Birmingham city centre.

Global commercial property agents, JLL – which took 13,815 sq ft at One Centenary Way – was the only relocation over 10,000 sq ft. One Centenary Way offers some of the best new offices in the Birmingham office market.  As such, the move from 45 Church Street represents an upgrade in quality of space as the agent pursues greater ESG credentials.

One Centenary Way, Paradise, Birmingham city centre

Flight to quality quietens

Whilst previous quarters have been dominated by deals for the very highest quality space, this quarter saw singular, relatively modest transactions at One Centenary Way, 103 Colmore Row and Two Chamberlain Square.

A flight to quality has been a major trend within the Birmingham office market, with ESG (Environmental, Social and Governance) becoming a key driver for occupiers in their decision-making, as they look to retain and attract the talent their business needs. Q2, however, seems to show this trend slowing.

The reasons behind this could be various, although it is worth highlighting that the strong activity in this area of the market has eroded a significant amount of the readily available new and refurbished space. Consequently, there could, once again be an uptick, as stock that meets the ESG aspirations of occupiers comes on stream.

CGI of Three Chamberlain Square, Paradise, Birmingham city centre

There are a variety of projects at various stages of development including:

  • Colmore Gate – 171,834 sq ft – currently being refurbished to offer high quality, sustainable low/zero carbon office space.
  • Drum – 200,000 sq ft – the former site of John Lewis in Grand Central is being refurbished to offer high quality offices with unparalleled transport links.
  • Ariel – 330,000 sq ft – proposed office development as part of Phase One of a redevelopment of the Smithfield site between New Street and Digbeth.
  • Three Chamberlain Square – 189,000 sq ft – the next development on the Paradise masterplan has begun construction and is due to complete in 2025.

Looking into the size brackets

There was a dramatic increase in the number of deals compared with the previous quarter, doubling in fact – achieving 36 deals compared with last quarter’s 18. This increase was centred around lettings below 5,000 sq ft as the market for smaller occupiers perked up and took space. In fact, for deals 3,000 sq ft and below, Q2 represents one of the most active quarters on record for the Birmingham office market.

Perhaps the most notable of the lettings in this sub 5,000 sq ft bracket was Handelsbanken’s securing of a quarter of a floor at 103 Colmore Row, totalling 3,855 sq ft. This is the smallest transaction to take place at the property so far. However, the pedigree of the occupier is an excellent addition for 103 and the deal is rumoured to have achieved a record rent for Birmingham city centre.

103 Colmore Row, Birmingham city centre

At the same time, we also see areas of the Birmingham office market that are notably quiet, particularly the 5,000-10,000 sq ft size bracket, which has secured fewer lettings across Q2 and recent preceding quarters.

Full house as serviced offices top the market

This quarter saw the largest letting taken by serviced office operator, Re-Defined, which took 36,343 sq ft at Louisa Ryland House. The building was the scene of last quarter’s largest letting when educational organisation, QA Higher Education (QAHE) took the lion’s share of the building – 45,180 sq ft. The letting this quarter to Re-Defined represents all of the remaining space at the property.

Louisa Ryland House’s 80,000 sq ft of offices have been comprehensively refurbished to an incredibly high standard. This means Re-Defined’s serviced offices, available up to 8,000 sq ft or 80 desks, will provide businesses with excellent quality space.

Louisa Ryland House, Birmingham city centre

Re-Defined wasn’t the only serviced office operator taking space this quarter. Cubo, which last year secured the entire 24,000 sq ft fourth floor of Two Chamberlain Square, took a further 12,459 sq ft at the building. This indicates Cubo’s serviced office offer at the building has been popular in the past 12 months and may even be full. It has also proved popular with other occupiers within the building who have used it to extend their space.

Education continues letting streak

In Q1, lettings to educational institutions accounted for nearly 50% of the quarter’s take-up – with the top two transactions going to the sector. In a similar fashion, Q2 saw education occupiers take the second and third largest lettings with the sector accounting for two other deals in the quarter.

Office buildingSize (sq ft)OccupierLocation
156 Great Charles Street22,924Arden UniversityBirmingham city centre
54 Hagley Road21,500UK Curriculum and Accreditation Body (UKCAB)Edgbaston
Quayside Tower6,784Waltham International College (WIC Property)Birmingham city centre
Assay Studios1,721Ormiston Academies Trust (OAT)Birmingham Jewellery Quarter
Total52,92930% of take-up4 transactions

Taking a closer look at these education sector lettings:

  • In the second largest letting of the quarter, Arden University – the fastest growing university in the UK – fulfilled a need to expand, by securing 22,924 sq ft spread over three floors at Crossways on Great Charles Street. The online education provider’s expansion is the latest proof in the city of the online education boom, galvanised by the pandemic.
  • In a very close third place, the government organisation, UK Curriculum and Accreditation Body (UKCAB) took 21,500 sq ft at 54 Hagley Road.
  • Waltham International College took 6,784 sq ft at Quayside Tower to establish a location in collaboration with Leeds Trinity University.

Edgbaston returns to the headlines

After a pronounced silence from offices in the city’s fringe areas, Q2 saw seven lettings in Edgbaston. Leading the way on these transactions was 54 Hagley Road, which secured three transactions totalling 29,600 sq ft.

Office buildingSize (sq ft)OccupierBusiness sector
54 Hagley Road21,500UK Curriculum and Accreditation Body (UKCAB)Education
54 Hagley Road6,270Greater Birmingham Chambers of CommerceBusiness support services
Lyndon House2,768ModalityCare
Lyndon House2,146Sabz SolicitorsLegal
54 Hagley Road1,830FCN GroupRecruitment
10-11 Greenfield Crescent1,657VeincentreHealthcare
Lyndon House1,488Involve RecruitmentRecruitment

In addition to securing the third largest letting of the quarter to UKCAB, 54 Hagley Road will also now become the new home of the Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce. At 6,270 sq ft, the size of the letting itself seems to indicate that the team will operate a flexible working model.

54 Hagley Road, Edgbaston

Though this may not be the largest deal, it is a very important one. The Chamber plays such a significant role within the region’s business community, it is a big vote of confidence in the building and this fringe area to house such a relocation. It will be fascinating to see whether this relocation will have any wider impact on Edgbaston in the medium and long-term.

Fringe areas of Birmingham city centre, such as Edgbaston, Digbeth and the Jewellery Quarter, have grown increasingly quiet over recent years for a variety of reasons. Firstly, activity from landlords and investors to bring new and refurbished office space to market has been focused, overwhelmingly, on the city’s core. At the same time, the aforementioned fringe locations have seen their office stock diminish, primarily due to the conversion of buildings to residential.

Whilst it is great to see Edgbaston feature strongly in the Q2 figures, lack of availability in the area means that such activity cannot continue. Prominent Edgbaston office buildings with available space are now few in number – 54 Hagley Road, Tricorn House and Lyndon House.

Assay Studios secures eight

Assay Studios delivered a strong performance in Q2, enjoying a flurry of activity that comprised 8 deals. Although the majority are under 1,000 sq ft, to see this many occupiers take space within the building is an impressive achievement providing that whilst supply is low, demand for high quality Jewellery Quarter office space remains high.

OccupierSize (sq ft)Business sector
Ormiston Academies Trust (OAT)1,721Education
Core Five1,323Construction consultancy
Sandy Brown689Acoustic engineering
Maber Architects602Architects
Trinity House Group512Recruitment
Bespoke Commercial Finance374Professional services
Girl Grind UK339Charity

In these lettings, Assay offered smaller occupiers an excellent opportunity to take space in a prominent and exciting office building situated between the calmness of the Jewellery Quarter and the busy city centre with its broad range of amenities.

Assay Studios, Jewellery Quarter, Birmingham

Thirst for Cat A+

As serviced offices rise in popularity and drive up the expectations of occupiers, landlords have increasingly looked to offer greater flexibility and evolve the proposition of their traditionally leased office space. Consequently, more office space is being finished to a Cat A+ standard, with fit out, meeting rooms, desks and other furniture included.

By providing this enhanced office space offer, landlords are making it easier for occupiers to move in with speed and reduce their upfront costs. It also means that when the occupier comes to leave the property, there is potentially less hassle for them and furniture can stay in situ.

A floor of offices at 10 Temple Street has received this level of fit out – showcasing the opportunities landlords have to differentiate their investments from direct competition. Importantly, this is also an excellent demonstration of the traditional office space now available to serviced office occupiers. 10 Temple Street offers maturing smaller businesses a more suitable office solution.

Cat A+ fit out at 10 Temple Street, Birmingham city centre

Outlook for Birmingham office market

It’s been greatly encouraging to see the increased number of smaller deals taking place in the Birmingham office market this quarter. Activity at the lower end of the market tends to be a reliable indicator of business confidence and the prosperity of the city. From these transactions, we can see the Birmingham office market is holding up nicely and is progressing following the challenges of preceding quarters.

We haven’t ever seen as many education occupiers in Birmingham city centre as we do now. It appears landlords and agents have identified a gap in the market to assist the growth in demand for remote learning and we would expect this to continue into the coming quarters.

As for much-needed, high quality stock, major office refurbishment projects have been announced:

  • 19 Cornwall Street, which offers 139,000 sq ft across seven floors, will be refurbished to become a smart-enabled, net zero carbon building.
  • Arca, formerly St Phillips Point, which offers 65,000 sq ft, is undergoing a major £5.5m facelift. The building is owned by Oval Real Estate which has decided to transform the building into a ‘modern office development’ with a large roof terrace, cycle storage, shower and changing facilities, and secure lockers.
19 Cornwall Street, Birmingham city centre

See full details of the transactions featured in our Birmingham office market research, comprising office space in Birmingham city centre and Edgbaston.

For more information on the Birmingham office market, please contact Malcolm Jones on 0121 233 2330 or email

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