Skip to main content Skip to footer

Bristol’s property market can withstand Brexit turbulence

bristol news

City has the resilience to weather any economic downturn, says Colliers International.

The laws of supply and demand mean that Bristol’s property market is in a far better position to weather any economic downturn than it was prior to the last recession, according to experts at global real estate advisor Colliers International.  
Earlier this year Walter Boettcher, the firm’s director of forecasting and research, told business leaders in Bristol that an end to the Brexit impasse would “open the floodgates” to a spending spree from businesses which are currently delaying investment decisions. 
He said there were large reserves of cash waiting to be released by businesses pending some certainty on the UK’s future relationship with the EU. 
And now, with the clock ticking down to the UK’s intended EU departure date on October 31, senior figures at Colliers International’s Bristol office say the city is well placed to withstand any economic turbulence in the months ahead – regardless of the Brexit outcome.   
James Preece, Director in the National Offices team at Colliers International in the South West and Wales, says the number of cranes dotting the city’s skyline illustrates the dynamism of Bristol’s property market.  
“The fundamentals are strong and developers’ confidence in the market is shown by the number of speculative office schemes which are being built,” he says.  
“You only have to count the number of cranes in the city centre – and you can see seven from our boardroom window alone, operating at three separate schemes within a square mile of each other. 
“Cubex is proposing to develop 116,000 sq ft at the former Avon Fire and Rescue HQ and  BT is rumoured to be taking 200,000 sq ft at Assembly, in what would be the largest pre-let since Lloyds Bank moved into Harbourside. Meanwhile Channel 4 has taken space for its new hub at Finzels Reach. 
“With an overall vacancy rate of only 5.5 per cent in the city centre, availability in the Bristol office market is the lowest among any of the big six regional cities, and this is key.  
“The sustained strength of demand that we’ve seen since 2015 means that we would expect to see the majority of this new speculatively-built office space to be pre-let at completion. This was the case at 66 Queen Square, 2 Glass Wharf and most recently, Aurora at Finzels Reach.   
“There is a marked contrast between the current situation and the one we had prior to the last downturn in 2007/08. Then, there was around 2 million sq ft of space available in Bristol city centre, whereas now that figure is a mere 650,000 sq ft.” 

Tom Watkins, Associate Director in the Industrial and Logistics team at Colliers International, says this picture is mirrored in the industrial sector, where Avonmouth remains the focal point of development.  
“The latest regional figures from the Industrial Agents Society Western Branch show that take up for Bristol and the surrounding area in the first half of this year totalled 660,553 sq ft - an increase of 7 per cent on the H1 2018 figures of 617,000 sq ft. The immediate occupation of units within recently completed developments, such as those at Horizon 38 and Vertex Park, have boosted these figures. 
“There is still a healthy number of requirements for Bristol, and while some companies would prefer to delay relocating to a larger premises until there’s more certainty within the market, operational demands are forcing them to move quickly. 
“As in the office market, the fundamentals remain strong within the industrial sector in Bristol thanks to a lack of supply and a consistently high level of demand. As a result, occupiers are competing aggressively for available stock.” 

Carys Allen, Surveyor, National Capital Markets, says the ongoing shortage of stock in the property sector is leading to a wave of competitive bidding among investors. 
Temple Quay House in Bristol has just been sold for £73.35 million, reflecting a 4.03 per cent yield, which is the lowest yield for a sub-20-year lease outside London,” she says. 
“Meanwhile changes in the retail market are giving investors the opportunity to capitalise on lower values, as we saw recently with the of The Galleries by InfraRed Capital to La Salle Investment Management, for a discounted price of £32 million.”  
“Bristol’s property market is well placed to weather any economic or political storms that may be heading our way,” says Tim Davies, head of South West and Wales at Colliers International. 
“Regardless of what transpires in regard to Brexit and indeed the wider global economy in the coming months, Bristol has all the resilience and characteristics to succeed.” 

Related Experts

Walter Boettcher

Head of Research and Economics

Research and Forecasting

London - West End

As Head of Research and Economics at global property advisors Colliers based in London, I lead a team of researchers identifying timely research topics and directing research and forecasting outputs. I have 25+ years of UK and European property industry experience and extensive expertise across a wide range of sectors and related industries. I participate regularly in industry panel discussions, but am focused more on direct client engagement with institutions, property companies, banks, and private investors. A regular media commentator, I have a wide range of national publication and broadcast experience. I joined Colliers International in August 2007 after several years at a private property company where I was responsible for managing a mixed portfolio of London residential, retail and office assets. Previously, I worked in a few London property advisory firms, a geodemographic company as well as a few youthful sojourns in the US offshore oil industry, local government and entertainment business. I am an economics graduate of the University of Texas at Austin and received a  PhD from the Faculty of Science at University College London.  I am a member of the London Property Economics Forum and  Society of Property Researchers.

Perhaps best known for my alternative take on property economics and investment, I am a keen proponent of UK regional development and infrastructure investment.

View expert

James Preece


National Offices


I am a Director in the National Offices team based in Bristol and have over 24 years experience.

Having joined Colliers in August 2008 my role has included numerous disposals and acquisitions in the South West for a myriad of clients, from large funds such as Aviva to private individuals.

I previously worked for Bidwells Business Space Agency team in Cambridge (2003 -2008) where I specialised in office and research & development disposals and acquisitions.

Before this I worked for Chesterton International Plc in Central London. After qualifying as a member of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors in 2001, I remained in the City office agency team.


View expert

Tom Watkins


Industrial and Logistics


I joined Colliers International in 2012 for a years placement as part of my degree at Bristol UWE.  Since completing my degree I re-joined the Bristol office in 2014, and qualified as a Chartered Surveyor the following year, and then subseqnently managed to secure promotions year on year until being kindly awarded Directorship in  2019.

I am now Head of the South West Industrial & Logistics team based out of Bristol, specialising in the disposal and acquisition of industrial premises in the South West and South Wales regions, as well as providing specialist advice on industrial/warehouse  development.

View expert

Suzy Simpson

Head of Content, Communications and PR


London - West End

As Head of Content, Communications & PR for Colliers in the UK, I am responsible for driving the strategic direction of corporate communications, media relations, and the programming and production of multi-channel content to engage external and internal audiences across the UK.

Get in touch for help with: 

  • Content Communication Strategy 
  • Media Relations
  • Corporate & Internal Communications
  • Media Training & Personal Brand Training


View expert