Northern Ireland corporation tax delay is 'putting off' big investors
Demand for office space in Belfast dropped slightly in the first half of the year, research by agents CBRE has found.
There had been lettings to PwC, Rapid 7 and Aviva, as well as media companies Finepoint Films and Big Mouth Media, but all were relatively small in scale and the pace was slower than the six months before.
CBRE managing director Brian Lavery said there would not be a substantial pick-up in lettings until there was more certainty over devolution of corporation tax.
"Offices are top of the sector list for local, national and foreign investors who are attracted by the high yields and affordable rents in Belfast," he said.
"However, prolonged Stormont Executive issues to allow a corporation tax cut are turning investors off the idea of Northern Ireland.
"Going by Dublin's success, a cut would be a massive boost to the Belfast office sector so it is extremely disappointing that the earliest this could happen in now 2018."
Overall, 87,487 sq ft had been signed for in just 22 transactions between January and June. PwC had extended its space at Lanyon Quay, where Aviva was another new arrival, while cybersecurity firm Rapid 7 had taken space at Arnott House in Bridge Street.
Finepoint Films, a Northern Ireland production company, was now at James Street South, while agency Big Mouth Media had taken space at Talbot Street.
Recruitment agency Brook Street is now at Law Society House while Chain Reaction Cycles has taken office space at Avenue House on Rosemary Street.
There remained 905,000 sq ft of available space - but CBRE said the amount of 'grade A' space was shrinking. And it was spread between multiple sites, meaning a single investor needing a large amount of space could not be accommodated.
However, CBRE said it expected a much stronger take-up in the second half of the year.