London has 20.2 million square feet of unused office space, 3.3 million more than 2020.
Lasting effects of the pandemic, the increasing popularity of the hybrid working approach, combined with sky 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 visualize the sheer size of unused office space in the capital, not-for-profit social enterprise, The Utilize Project, have 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 Pauls Cathedrals.
The West End falls not far behind, with 5.85 million square feet of available office space, equivalent to 75 Buckingham Palaces.
This comes as no surprise as the priciest area in London for commercial rent is the West End, with office spaces going at a rate of 117.50 GPB 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 shocking statistics, many businesses are still reluctant to invest in office space since the pandemic. But the usage of meanwhile spaces is quickly becoming a beneficial strategy for combatting 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 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.”, adds Shahnawaz.
More than 22,500 commercial units have been empty for at least 6 months, according to Centre for London, and The Utilize Project insist that meanwhile space schemes can provide invaluable benefit for all landlords, developers and local communities.
Given the current trajectory and uncapped rising commercial costs, the social enterprise predicts even more office spaces will become available throughout 2022, making the concept of meanwhile spaces even more important for keeping London communities alive.