The commercial property sector in Birmingham had little to cheer from the Budget apart from the possibility of an influx of civil servants to the city to fill some of its empty grade A space.
Ian Stringer, regional senior director at GVA Grimley, felt Birmingham was better placed than most to benefit from any moves to disperse the civil service from the South-east.
He said: “The city has been collectively working hard to improve its appeal which has come to fruition with a recent run of announcements; including being on the first line for the new High Speed Rail Link, the extension of The Metro and expansion of Birmingham International Airport.”
Philippa Pickavance, head of Midlands agency at Drivers Jonas Deloitte, was equally upbeat.
She said: “The announcement that a further 15,000 civil service jobs are recommended to be relocated to the regions could translate into approximately 2 million sq ft of additional office space being taken up.
“The announcement should be viewed with some caution too as clearly Government also has an obligation to look at trying to use some of their existing void estate first, but on the other hand much of this is lower grade and does not meet their sustainability requirements.”
Alan Pemberton, managing partner of building and property consultancy Tuffin Ferraby Taylor, felt the Chancellor could have done more to help the construction industry.
“I don’t think anyone expected any fireworks from this Budget,” he said. “There was an opportunity to make some groundbreaking changes, but it is far too close to the general election for that to ever have happened.
“I would loved to have seen a reduction in VAT to five per cent on all property repairs and maintenance, in line with RICS recommendations, as this has been predicted to create a £1.4 billion stimulus in activity, helping to get the construction industry rolling and creating around 24,000 new jobs in the sector.”
Bob Tattrie from Trebor Developments LLP was equally downbeat. He said: “Looking for signs of help for the commercial property industry from this budget has resulted in very little and, as no details about individual department cuts were provided, the effects on public bodies such as regional development agencies are not yet known.
“The only positive signs I could see are incentives to help small businesses, which could encourage small enterprises to take on new or larger accommodation.”
Simon Robinson, vice-chairman of the Investment Property Forum in Birmingham, said: “We are disappointed that the Chancellor has not made any announcement on changing his policy on empty rates which is effectively a tax on recession. However, it is good that the regional economy looks set to benefit with the announcement that 15,000 civil service jobs are to be relocated from London.”