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Northern Ireland's booming market puts us streets ahead of our UK rivals

By Margaret Canning

Published 27/10/2015

Lisburn Square
Lisburn Square
An artist's impression of Stargime's plan for offices in Queen's Square, Belfast

Northern Ireland’s commercial property market currently has major competitive advantages compared to the rest of the UK  - and investor interest is set to continue, CBRE has said.

Brian Lavery, head of CBRE in Belfast, told an investment conference in London that the location’s advantages were encouraging institutional and private equity firms to look for opportunities in the region.

New investors include Marcol, Rockspring, Stargime and New River Retail.

And CBRE said news that golf tournament The Open will be held in Portrush in 2019 will only further whet appetites for commercial property here.

Marcol bought retail development Lisburn Square in Lisburn, which was on the market for £2.25m, while Rockspring has bought the Fairhill Shopping Centre in Ballymena.

French firm Stargime, meanwhile, has bought a former First Trust premises in Queen’s Square, Belfast and has plans to develop Grade A offices.

And New River Retail bought the Abbey Shopping Centre in Newtownabbey.

Mr Lavery said: “Belfast offers a compelling value proposition compared to regional UK cities and this is being recognised by occupiers and investors alike.”

And he said CBRE was forseeing an uplift in rental values in all sectors in the next year — but that the office market would see the biggest increase. 

However, he added: “The most attractive element for investors at present is the notable gap between the yields on offer in Northern Ireland and those prevailing in other competing regional cities in the UK.”

And Mr Lavery said CBRE remained confident that a lower rate of corporation tax would have a transformative effect on the commercial property market.

“We believe there is every reason to remain confident regarding the introduction of a reduced rate of corporation tax in Northern Ireland and as CBRE has always stated, this will be the real game changer in relation to the property market as well as the economy generally,” he said.

And Robert Ditty, director of the investment team at CBRE, said: “With so little Grade A office space available and demand continuing to increase apace, there are significant requirements for new build and refurbished office space.

“There is also scope for a number of major hotel developments to attract global branded hotel operators in order to satisfy future demand expected from the new exhibition centre at the Waterfront Hall.

“We have also just had the good news recently of The Open golf championship coming to Royal Portrush in 2019, which will undoubtedly help to put Northern Ireland on the map to more international tourists.”

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