Published on 19 Apr 2022

London facing office space crisis as ageing buildings fail to meet carbon neutral targets


London is facing a huge shortfall in office space by 2030 because so many ageing buildings will be unable to meet carbon neutral targets, a shared workspace boss has warned.

Chris Davies, chief executive of Uncommon, which has five sites worth £350 million in London, said almost two thirds of commercial buildings were built or last refurbished before 2000 with many likely to be effectively obselete in eight years time.

He said: “Grade A properties will become more and more prized but below that level they will not be ready for the carbon neutral environment and they will become unlettable.

“Many businesses are likely to be landed with an occupation cost increase from their landlords who need to overhaul the building to make it useable.”

The company currently runs sites in Highbury, Fulham, Borough and Liverpool Street operating at 90 per cent occupancy. It will open a fifth location in Holborn next year.

Only around six per cent of the 250 million sq ft of office space in central London is currently in the form of shared workspace but this is forecast to double in the next two to three years and grow to 30 per cent in 10 years.

It bought the 140,000 sq ft Templar House, once London Underground’s headquarters, for £80 million in 2019. When it opens it will provide workspace for up to 2,000 people.

Mr Davies said he was seeing increasingly large businesses wanting to take space “with a high level of service and amenity”.

Mr Davies said employers were increasingly looking for “design-led” space for their staff light years from the traditional office environment with the Covid pandemic hugely accelerating the trend

He said clients increasingly looked for a “hotel level standard” of service. He said: “When you enter one of our spaces you are greeted by a friendly face who will give you a level of service that completely different to a security guard making you sign a piece of paper.”

Uncommon location include wellbeing studios, peloton bikes, meditation rooms and onsite cafes, bars and roof terraces and are filled with plants. Desk day passes start from £40 plus VAT while a dedicated desk starts from £399 plus VAT a month