Matthew Neville

London has equivalent to 17 Houses of Parliaments in unused office space, according to new report

London has 20.2 million square feet of unused office space, 3.3 million more than 2020, suggests a new report from The Utilize Project.

Lasting effects of the pandemic, the increasing popularity of the hybrid working approach, combined with high commercial rent has made office working “less appealing” for businesses and their staff.

As of the end of 2021, commercial rent in London was officially the highest in Europe, according to Statista, making the future likelihood of office take up even less likely.

To help visualise the size of unused office space in the capital, not-for-profit social enterprise, The Utilize Project, has compared the quantity of empty office spaces to famous London landmarks.

The data showed that London as a whole has a “staggering” 20.2 million square feet of unused space, the equivalent of almost 17 Houses of Parliaments.

The area of London with the largest amount of available office space is the City of London. Whilst the area is home to an estimated 27,365 businesses, inclusive of the UK’s leading financial and insurance companies, it currently has 5.91 million square feet of available space. This can be compared to an “enormous” 98 St Paul’s Cathedrals.

The West End falls not far behind, with 5.85 million square feet of available office space, equivalent to 75 Buckingham Palaces. This is the priciest area in London for commercial rent, with office spaces going at a rate of £117.50 per square metre as late as last year.

In the Docklands, there is space equivalent to 91 Westminster Abbey’s and in Southbank available office space equates to 84 Royal Albert Halls. Despite these statistics, many businesses are still reluctant to invest in office space since the pandemic.

However, the usage of meanwhile spaces is reportedly becoming a “beneficial strategy” for combating empty commercial units. Mahmud Shahnawaz, founder and director of The Utilize Project, explains: “Empty commercial property brings with it a realm of issues for the community, from increased crime rates to poor local economies.”

“Meanwhile spaces can build a community, grow the local economy, create jobs, reduce crime and inject life back into high-streets. They also give opportunity to SMEs, who can’t compete with current commercial rental prices, to have their start.”

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