On Location

    Liell Francklin, Director Office Agency reveals where to find the perfect London HQ.

    Q. What are major corporations looking for in a London headquarters?
    A. Big companies need affordable and efficient space to accommodate all their staff under one roof. If it’s an iconic architectural statement, like the Swiss Re building, then all the better for a traditional City occupier. Large blocks in core London locations are actually getting hard to find. This is partly due to planning restraints, but also because companies occupying the best sites are staying put and refurbishing their premises when leases come up for renewal, rather than moving as they tended to do in the past.

    Q. Which locations currently attract the most interest from global corporations?
    A. The City and Canary Wharf remain the locations of choice for financial headquarters, especially the ones that make a statement and wave the flag for the company. UBS, for example, is building a new European headquarters in Broadgate, in a landmark building designed by architect Ken Shuttleworth.

    Q. How easy is it to get permission to create large new office buildings in London?
    A. Conservation policies can restrict opportunities in the core business districts of the West End and the City. Although the Broadgate centre is less than 30 years old, moves were made to list it as of premier architectural or historical interest. This would have set a precedent and had a major impact on the City’s ability to renew its stock of office space, a restraint that competitors from New York to Shanghai do not have. Happily, the Government showed a refreshingly robust attitude when culture secretary Jeremy Hunt refused to list the complex, a decision that paved the way for the demolition of one block and investment in a new building for UBS.


    Q.The City is fairly crowded. What other areas are suitable for locating large offices?
    A. To the east of the City there are still opportunities in Canary Wharf and the Docklands, but proximity to the Jubilee line is key. To the north west, King’s Cross is a remarkable regeneration scheme which will ultimately provide eight million sq ft of mixed-use space. French bank BNP Paribas has committed to 350,000 sq ft for delivery in 2015. Paddington still has sites at both Paddington Central and Merchant Square. In Victoria, Land Securities will be delivering 1.2 million sq ft of new Grade A offices from 2013 to 2018.


    Q. Are there other areas that investors and corporations should keep an eye on?
    A. To the south of the river, I have always favoured Waterloo as a potentially dynamic location, although so far it has failed to deliver. But the redevelopment of the Shell Centre should rectify that. The jury remains out on Battersea, although the arrival of the new US Embassy is bound to have a positive impact on the area. Finally, Battersea Power Station may ultimately provide a new London business quarter, but that will depend on the Northern Line extension being completed.


    Key contacts

    Liell Francklin

    Liell Francklin

    Office Agency

    Savills Margaret Street

    +44 (0) 20 7409 8712

    +44 (0) 20 7409 8712