Rush to country offices pushes up rents

By Olivia Cooper

RURAL office rents have risen by an average of 35% in the last three years, as companies look to escape from urban pressures, according to a survey by land agents Strutt & Parker.

“There has been a sharp rise in demand as an increasing number of businesses look to alternative locations,” says Leo Hickish, partner in the companys land management department.

Parking problems, congestion and poor-quality housing have led to many businesses looking for a better quality of life in the countryside.

“The result was not only dramatically improved rents, increasingly at or above the local urban equivalents, but very satisfactory rates of returns of between 12% and 20%.”

Mr Hickish says top-quality, well-designed offices, separated if possible from the farming area, and with their own access and parking, will attract the best rates.

According to the survey, most people actually spend less time travelling to work after relocation, and employees tend to move into villages closer to work.

“This can only be good news,” says Oliver Harwood, the CLAs head of rural economy.

“Rural businesses generate jobs for local people, although there is still a great need for more affordable housing in these areas,” he adds.

But the growth is not nationwide; remote, less accessible areas have to settle for lower rents and alternative uses, perhaps light industrial or storage lettings, says Mr Hickish.

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