Government proposal to relocate 10,000 civil servants out of central London and up to the West Midlands have the full backing of a leading property professional in Birmingham.
Ian Martin, associate director of Jones Lang LaSalle Birmingham, believes that the region's commercial property market is well placed to satisfy Government needs and, if the plans go ahead, they could provide renewed vigour to the pre-let market.
His belief is shared by Mike Loftus, of Locate in Birmingham, who says the property pluses are matched by an equally attractive of skilled and well-motivated workers.
Mr Martin says: "It may suit some to claim that the West Midlands does not have the capacity to accommodate large civil service requirements. However, if we look closely at the region's commercial property market, it is clear that this is not a valid argument.
"In fact, Birmingham and the West Midlands are currently in the best position in their history to accommodate large commercial requirements. For example, major office development sites such as Masshouse, Arena Central and Snow Hill are all close to being able to accommodate development starts, with the Masshouse site capable of providing 450,000 sq ft of accommodation by the end of 2005.
"Furthermore, the Government has already started to take up space in the region and in particular, is acquiring large amounts of grade A office accommodation."
He cites the example of the Lord Chancellors' department, which is understood to be acquiring 45,000 sq ft of grade A space from PwC in Birmingham, while CPS look set to take an additional 17,000 sq ft of additional space at Colmore Gate.
"Because of the falling property prices in London, there is a view that there is no need to relocate services to the regions," says Mr Martin.
"However, it is important to note that when running a business, the employment costs far outweigh commercial property considerations and the West Midlands offers a highly-skilled professional workforce who are prepared to accept lower salaries because the cost of living is less.
"You only have to look at the cost of an average house in the south-east to that of the West Midlands to understand this.
"Finally, if the cost of running the civil service can be reduced and if savings are invested into other areas of the public sector to benefit the general public, then surely this is something that everybody in the UK should get behind."
Mike Loftus, of Locate in Birmingham, says: "The case regarding our property offer needs to be robustly complemented by the equally compelling case that the labour pool and the skills and commitment of our work force generated.
"Birmingham has possibly the largest labour catchment of any city in the country, with a workforce of over 480,000 people within a 30-minute drive time of the city centre. When we examine the skills and experience of these people the argument becomes even more compelling.
"Over 70 per cent of these people actually work in the service sector and so have the essential attributes which civil service employers are likely to be seeking.
"In addition 21.2 per cent of these employed people are in professional or semi-professional occupations with almost 50,000 qualified professionals living in the city centres travel-to-work area.
"We are actively supplementing this data with further investigations of the key characteristics of the labour force."
Sir Michael stressed when he spoke in Birmingham recently that the responsibility for presenting a case for relocation rested with local areas and that the message must be directed at the civil servants who will be evaluating location options.
Mr Loftus concludes: "We will continue to work with colleagues in the property world to deliver this comprehensive message of opportunity to the government relocation process."