Following a regular quarterly office agency catch up I recently became aware of a local issue in Bristol which could have significant implications for office occupiers.
The issue in question, which could shape the Bristol office market in 2014 will be the Residents’ Parking Zone initiative aimed at banning commuter parking around the centre of Bristol. Mayor Ferguson has already introduced it to three Wards (Cotham, Kingsdown and Redland), with plans to roll it out to include 20 others over the course of this year. The scheme limits parking between 9.00am and 5.00pm to permit holders only, with 30 minutes’ free parking.
The number of permits available to office occupiers is extremely limited and even residents have to pay to park outside their homes. The lack of consultation has attracted criticism and the details of the scheme are now being publicly debated so we do not know for certain what will happen long term. But if it does go ahead as proposed, it could have a dramatic effect on the out-of-town office market, strengthening demand. In the meantime there is an air of uncertainty for occupiers. As a minimum the uncertainty will affect city centre lettings but in the longer term, if the current proposals proceed, fringe of centre buildings with poor access to public transport, stations and public car parks will be dramatically affected. It could mean that occupiers will seriously consider either very central locations or a move out of town.
This is definitely one to monitor for anyone with an interest in the Bristol office market in 2014.