At a West London focussed seminar session at the London Real Estate Forum a panel discussed the sub-region, and identified a trend for companies moving from East London to the west to take advantage of better connectivity, livability, and the business ecosystem.
Clive Pane, a Partner at Deloitte, said the key West London assets form an investment point of view were its industrious population; the great road, rail and underground connections; and the restrained supply of land and development. He said it was a better investment bet than East London, where land supply is not as constrained.
He also reflected that the delay to Crossrail makes little difference to the investment proposition.
There was a discussion about flexible workspace, for which the supply is growing, but may not be keeping pace with demand.
James Saunders, Chief Operating Officer of Quintain, described the flexible space they have built in Wembley. He commented that a large proportion of the older office buildings in the area have been converted to homes under permitted development, pushing the demand for smaller office units up. Quintain plan to take some of the older buildings at Wembley park and find new uses. He said they want to work with good operators who can run accelerators, and incubators. They have themselves, working with Second Floor, opened 40 artist studios. All are now occupied, and there is a waiting list of 500. “That shows there is significant demand”, said Saunders.
Paul Prichard, Development Director Homes West Thames, at Berkeley Group said they are aiming to increase the quantum of employment space on their 88 acre Southall Waterside development. They have recently submitted plans for an additional 30,000 sq ft of flexible office space. “We’ve seen this shift from East to West too, so we are responding”, he said.
He also talked about a how Berkeley are using the project to help address a looming skills crisis in construction. Their West London Construction Academy, run with West London College, takes cohorts of 120 students, mainly on apprenticeships, through a course preparing them for a career in construction.
Adina David, VP Investment at the Collective, which is a co-living, co-working redevelopment of an office building in Park Royal, close to Old Oak, described how the 550 apartment development was changing the area. It’s public amenity – a convenience store, a gym, and a food & beverage offer, is changing the feel of the area, but also, crucially, opening access to the canal has inspired residents to mount their own clean up operation, and the canal is now an improving asset.
Their Collective Foundation was the first accelerator at Old Oak, and has supported 29 social ventures.
Capital West London and West London Business have published a report on incubators and accelerators in the West London sub-region. Download a copy here.