Politicians in Northern Ireland hold key to unlocking growth in commercial property, claims latest report
Northern Ireland's ability to expand and attract fresh investment is dependent on a resolution to the ongoing political impasse, a new report has warned.
The latest research from agency Savills shows that while major property deals topped £325m in 2017 - up by around a quarter - the overall volume of transactions was "disappointing".
The rise in commercial property deals was skewed by the £123m sale of CastleCourt shopping centre in Belfast to Holywood firm Wirefox. Other major deals included the sale of large Tesco stores in Newry and Craigavon for £27.3m and £21.4m respectively.
The increase in overall sales value in 2017 followed a 50% drop in transactions between 2015 and 2016. According to a new report from Savills, demand for city centre investments returned in 2017, with retail at the forefront.
But Savills NI director Ben Turtle said that "NI's ability to attract further investment will depend on resolving the political impasse that has resulted in the Stormont Assembly being suspended" alongside the potential impact of the vote for Brexit.
He said: "The fact that Brexit negotiations have now advanced to phase two discussions on wider ranging trade arrangements is a positive development.
"While there is a long way to go in the negotiations the UK's pledge to preserve the frictionless border between Northern Ireland and the Republic also arguably nudges the overall outcome towards a softer Brexit, which would be economically beneficial to all the home nations."
Retail properties, such as shopping centres, retail parks and foodstores, made up around two-thirds of overall sales, across 27 transactions. That included Valley Retail Park in Newtownabbey - sold for £11.3m, and Omagh's Great Northern Retail Park, which went for £9.2m.