Dec 1, 2022
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Huge amount of Oxford Street retail space to become offices - report

Dec 1, 2022

Oxford Street’s status as one of London’s (and Britain’s, and Europe’s) key shopping attractions could be at risk as the profile of the street’s tenants changes.

The future of M&S's flagship Marble Arch store is in doubt - Image: Nigel Taylor

The 1.2 mile-long street at the heart of the capital is set to see a massive 1 million sq ft of former retail space converted to offices in the next five years, with West End experts believing the high street is on the brink of a “generational change”, reported Property Week.

Around 1.32 million sq ft of new office schemes are proposed for delivery before 2028, according to a report by Savills. Its analysis also reveals that 960,000 sq ft, or 72% of this new space, will come from former retail space being converted to offices.

A major victim of a rapidly changing post-pandemic retail landscape, Oxford Street has lost two major department stores (Debenhams and House of Fraser), while John Lewis is swapping some of its retail space for offices and the future of M&S’s Marble Arch flagship store is in the balance, if the retailer fails to secure approval for a new store on the space.

Meanwhile, the growing appeal of the street as an expanding office location “was led by a strong amenity and cultural offering”, says Andrew Wedderspoon, director in the West End office agency team at Savills, boosted by the arrival of the Bond Street Crossrail station.

This comes amid strong occupier demand in the West End sub-markets surrounding the street, which have seen a 1.4% decrease in the vacancy rate since the end of 2021, now standing at 5.1%, he added.

The New West End Company’s chief executive Dee Corsi doesn’t seem too worried about the shifting balance, saying that while the central London area was “undergoing much-needed major transformation, with significant investment in the pipeline… the world-class retail that Oxford Street is famed for will remain.”

She added: “We fundamentally believe that the high street will need to diversify if it is to thrive, welcoming not only more businesses to take up office space, but also cultural and experiential brands.”

Wedderspoon also said: “While the area has been hard to imagine as a genuine office sub-market until now, the sheer volume of space available for conversion is a once in a generation moment to transform the street and attract those larger occupiers who may otherwise be pushed out of the West End due to a lack of opportunity.”

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