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‘Invest In Bracknell 2023’ event success in spotlighting Bracknell as a premier business destination


Bracknell BID partnered with UK Property Forums to host ‘Invest in Bracknell 2023’ at Maxis Business Park on Thursday 23rd November. This event showcased why Bracknell stands as a premier business destination in the country and featured captivating talks and panel discussions from leading businesses and property sector experts.

The flagship event, built upon the success of the previous years ‘Invest in Bracknell’ event, was well-attended with over 80 delegates. Sean Griffin, Bracknell BID Manager, kicked off the event with a welcome to delegates before introducing a video showcasing Bracknell’s status as an premier business location, detailing the qualities that the town possesses as well as the numbers improvements and benefits the BID has delivered in the area.

Alison Webster, CEO of Berkshire LEP, introduced the first session of the event agenda, based around why Bracknell has managed to secure occupiers over the past 12 months as the market has cooled elsewhere in Berkshire, and exploring the unique attributes of the town that has ensured it remains relevant and marketable.

Guy Parkes, Partner at Vail Williams, provided a comprehensive overview of the Bracknell office market, highlighting a notable shift in remote work trends post-COVID. Guy noted that a majority of employees are now opting for full-time office work, averaging 3.5 days per week. Guy delved into the motivations behind office relocations, citing data indicating that 87% of companies looking to move within the next three years, with 60% already planning a move. The primary reasons cited for these moves included increased space requirements, energy-efficient buildings, cost reductions, improved facilities, favourable locations, and the optimization of available space. Furthermore, Guy discussed the key factors influencing future office demand, such as sustainability upgrades, the rise of grey space, and the consideration of costs per workspace. He highlighted Bracknell’s resurgence in the commercial office market, surpassing Slough, Reading, and Maidenhead in terms of square footage of lettings. Bracknell is on track to meet its 10-year letting average of 130,000 sq. ft., whereas Reading lags behind at just 20% of its 10-year 475,000 sq. ft. average.

Guy showcased significant deals that have contributed to Bracknell’s success, with 75% of transactions involving fitted space and 69% dedicated to Grade A office space. He pointed out that 87% of new leases originate from existing Bracknell-based businesses choosing to stay and expand in the area. Guy underscored Bracknell’s unique attributes, including affordable housing, enhanced amenities resulting from the £770 million town centre regeneration, and excellent connectivity, enabling companies to tap into a broader talent pool. In addition, Guy emphasized the favourable value proposition of the commercial rental market in Bracknell, noting that Grade A office spaces in Reading cost 25% more than their counterparts in Bracknell.

The first panel, chaired by Alison Webster, allowed for panellists to discuss the attributes of the town. The panel included Guy Parkes, Nigel Wild, Business Development Manager at Morgan Lovell, and Chris Stevens, Senior Asset Manager at Frasers Property. The panel gave an interesting discussion around Bracknell’s unique attributes that has helped secure occupiers, including green spaces, generous parking spaces, young educated professionals, quality amenities for workers and excellent urban planning design due to its status as a New Town. Panellists also stated how the area benefits from the BID through investment made into the Southern and Western Business Areas, with significant work conducted to Farleymoor Lake to give workers an amenity to relax and socialise.

Following the first session, James Sunderland MP for Bracknell, addressed the audience highlighting the Autumn Statement, and also support for local businesses and the BID.

Nick Hardy, Director of Page Hardy Harris, initiated the second session centred around the evolving challenges faced by office spaces. Martin Gibbons, Director of Vital Property Solutions, delivered an insightful presentation on strategies for landlords to enhance the energy performance certification (EPC) of their buildings. Martin provided an overview of the Energy Efficiency Regulations 2015 bill, highlighting the mandate for landlords to upgrade Grade F and G buildings (constituting 20% of the current stock) for all commercially leased buildings by April 1, 2023. Martin also delved into the government’s plans for commercial energy efficiency standards, emphasizing the requirement for all buildings to have a lodged EPC by April 2025, and for new and ongoing leases to achieve an EPC Grade B by April 2030.

In offering astute advice to landlords and business owners, Martin advocated for upgrading all buildings to EPC B, transitioning to all-electric systems by replacing gas/oil burning boilers, and shifting landlord and tenant electricity supplies to 100% renewable tariffs—an aspect he encouraged incorporating into new leases. Martin provided a practical set of action points for improving EPC ratings, suggesting the use of the EPC register website to understand a building’s ratings. Martin endorsed LED lighting for its energy efficiency and promoted the adoption of all-electric heating systems, noting that gas-burning buildings face penalties under the new regulations. Furthermore, Martin recommended the utilization of air-con split heat pumps (air-to-air), along with the reskinning and addition of insulation to existing buildings, and investment in renewables. Emphasising cost-effectiveness, he prioritized low-tech options implemented in stages, with an initial focus on reducing energy consumption rather than energy production. Martin highlighted how his company’s services have been employed by prominent clients to achieve higher ratings, citing an example of advising the landlord of the O2 Arena to improve their EPC rating from D to B. He also showcased Maxis Business Park as an exemplary case study, revealing an independent survey conducted in October 2023 that resulted in both buildings achieving an EPC Grade A.

The second panel, chaired by Nick Hardy, allowed for panellists to discuss the concept of the office. The panel was made up of Martin Gibbons, Helen Barnett, Marketing Manager at Fraser Property, and Andrew Hunter, Executive Director for Place, Planning and Regeneration at Bracknell Forest Council.

The panel gave a thought-provoking discussion around the future of the office-market in Bracknell, discussing how refurbishing a commercial building is cheaper and less carbon emitting than building from new, Bracknell’s directive on protecting office spaces from conversion, as well as how commercial buildings can replicate Maxis Business Park’s EPC A credentials and 100% electrification. Panellists also highlighted the value of the BID, as it allows for continued tailored investment with a focus on business requirements led by businesses, and the effective collaboration with local partnerships in delivering for Bracknell.

The final session, chaired by Matthew Battle, Managing Director at UK Property Forums, gave an opportunity for the audience and panel members to provide feedback and observations on the first two sessions. The panel was made up from panellists from the previous sessions, with Alison Webster, CEO of Berkshire LEP, Nick Hardy, Director of Page Hardy Harris, and Chris Stevens, Senior Asset Manager at Frasers Property.

Sean Griffin, Bracknell BID Manager, gave a closing speech in thanking delegates for attending the event, with a buffet lunch provided by Frasers Property. Delegates were given a guided tour around Maxis Business Park showcasing their Grade A plug-and-play and flexible office-space available, as well as the amenities within the park, including generous parking space, two on-site cafes and their extensive events programme for occupiers on site.

The BID would like to thank UK Property Forums for co-hosting, as well as a special thanks to the event partners Vail Williams, Berkshire LEP, Morgan Lovell, Vital Property Solutions, Page Hardy Harris, Bracknell Forest Council for helping to make the event a great success. The BID would also like to thank Frasers Property and Maxis Business Park for hosting at their venue, and their continued hospitality with the catering. The BID would like to thank BID-area business Dynamic Media Solutions for providing the AV and staging for the event, and the BID would like to thank BID-area business Printroom Group for providing the printed materials.

Over 80 delegates were greeted on arrival to the event with tea, coffee and a light breakfast
Sean Griffin, Bracknell BID Manager, gave a welcome to attendees outlining the agenda of the event
Guy Parkes, Partner at Vail Williams, provided a comprehensive overview of the Bracknell office market
The first panel, chaired by Alison Webster, CEO of Berkshire LEP, allowed for panellists to discuss the attributes of the town.
Martin Gibbons, Director of Vital Property Solutions, delivered an insightful presentation on strategies for landlords to enhance the energy performance certification (EPC) of their buildings
The second panel, chaired by Nick Hardy, allowed for panellists to discuss the concept of the office.
The final session, chaired by Matthew Battle, Managing Director at UK Property Forums, gave an opportunity for the audience and panel members to provide feedback and observations on the first two sessions.
Delegates were able to ask panelists questions at the event
Bracknell BID partnered with UK Property Forums to host ‘Invest in Bracknell 2023’ at Maxis Business Park
Delegates were given a guided tour around Maxis Business Park showcasing their Grade A plug-and-play and flexible office-space available
Delegates enjoyed a buffet lunch after the panel discussions
Maxis Business Park has Grade A plug-and-play and flexible office-space available in Maxis 1 and Maxis 2

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