Downsizing in action

As we move back into offices and retail space, there is a global need for new features to appease health and safety mandates and personal comfort levels.

City centres in the UK and Ireland are experiencing an uptick in downsizing – both property owners making their spaces into multiple, smaller occupancies and companies looking to move into those smaller spaces. In Leeds, for instance, our team are working on multiple projects that focus on dividing spaces allowing for more tenancies and larger instances of productivity.

The first project, managed by chartered building surveyor Usmaan Mehboob, entails splitting a large open plan office in the city centre into two separate offices/demises. The office suite has been vacant for a significant period with potential tenants remarking that they would not be able to fill the extra space associated with a larger office.

84% of businesses seeking office space consider location as the primary factor in choosing a space. But there has been a global demand for smaller spaces over the past year as staff adjust to working from home or sadly lose their jobs.

The client’s brief was to create smaller offices but, whilst the office occupancy levels were low, it was also requested to upgrade the common parts in time for lockdown easing and return of occupying tenants. This decision to sub-divide large open spaces and improve their fittings and fixtures is a trend that Trident has seen and spoken about through the COVID-19 pandemic.

Similarly, principal building surveyor Jamie Clark is managing an instruction where a detached restaurant building is being split into two, after the previous tenant went into administration. The decision to divide the unit is at the expense of the landlord, but the landlord admitted that “ the larger restaurant unit format on leisure parks is dead”.

This work doesn’t simply require the construction of a wall, but many extra aspects that aren’t as obvious – such as stripping out the former tenants’ fixtures, providing additional electric, water and telecom services for two separate entities and other services specific to the tenancy.

In this case, one of the new units is being fitted with a drive-thru lane and window to accommodate food/beverage collection, alongside ‘digital pick up bays’ where customers order on their phone and park in a bay for a worker to bring food to them. Jamie believes that although not new, this trend has been accelerated as a result of the pandemic.

In the Leeds office alone, there has been a steady increase in the creation of smaller, ‘take-out’-format stores, which can be tied to the explosion of e-commerce that has been developing in past years but has become a necessity for businesses to survive during the past 12 months.

This trend in dividing spaces spans sectors and highlights a change in our culture but also a desire to return to our previous livelihoods – increasing our choices in dining, as well as working in spaces that accommodate our heightened levels of comfort and wellbeing.

If you would like to speak with Jamie, Usmaan or any of our other offices on splitting your unit, fitouts or similar matters, call us on 0800 021 6789.

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