A Derby law firm says it could be forced to move out of the city centre because of a lack of quality office buildings.
Smith Partnership is headquartered at Heritage Gate, off Friar Gate, but its lease comes to an end within the next 12 months.
With large parts of Heritage Gate being converted into apartments by owners MCR, bosses at Smith Partnership – which celebrates its 30th anniversary later this year – are on the hunt for a new home.
But in Derby city centre, a lack of office space of the highest quality, known as ‘Grade A’, means the search is difficult.
IN OTHER NEWS: Man charged over alleged incident in Derbyshire pub which left pensioner fighting for his life
Partner Russell Davies said: “Like any business, where we are located is an important decision for us. It reflects all sorts of things about our business, and it is always important to see these things through the eyes of your clients.
“Marketing Derby and the city council are very keen for us to remain in the city centre. We have looked at various locations but what we hadn’t expected was the dearth of good quality office space in the city centre.
“Over recent years, there seems to have been a headlong rush to city centre living, with many smaller office blocks, including those adjacent to our own, being converted to apartments.
“There are some new-build projects underway but, unfortunately, none of them are likely to become available before the end of our lease, despite the best efforts of the council.”
The lack of available office space for larger firms seeking a new home in the city centre was raised by commercial property specialists Innes England earlier this year.
IN OTHER NEWS: Former Debenhams building and Derby Cattle Market site go up for sale
Speaking at the company’s annual market report, director Nick Hosking said Derby’s office sector was being dominated by sub-10,000 sq ft transactions.
Mr Davies said finding a solution to the problem was not easy. He said: “There are others far more expert than me who may have some ideas, but I guess they can all agree that there is no simple solution.
“It is however something which the city needs to address, and quickly. A lack of usable, affordable city centre office space will simply drive firms such as ours out of the centre, to the detriment of the city.
“It would indeed be ironic if all the workers moved to city centre living, only to find there were no offices to employ them, resulting in them having to drive out of the city centre to find work.”
The issue was also raised at last week’s Derby Property Summit at Pride Park Stadium.
Addressing 350 delegates from the real estate sector, Derby City Council’s head of regeneration Greg Jennings admitted the authority “needs to do more” on the back of its Connect Derby scheme, which predominately provides workspace for small start-up firms.
“There isn’t the Grade A offer at the moment in the city centre,” he said. “There’s a lot we have done, like the Connect Derby project, but we need to do more in terms of where businesses move on from there.”
LOOKING FOR WORK? Check out Fish4Jobs for your next challenge
Source: Derby Telegraph