The Bath bubble

Jones Lang LaSalle’s review of the South West market has highlighted the strong growth rate forecast for Bath – at 13% for 2013, one of the highest outside London and the South East.

The firm says there are a number of emerging sectors and trends that are encouraging a level of cautious optimism in the wider property industry and that indicate that Bath is protected by its own ‘bubble’.

John Mulholland, director in JLL’s Bath office, says the Bath economy with its strong retail, leisure and education sectors has always behaved differently from other UK cities in times of recession, and has been comparatively resilient to the economic downturn. He sees “many positive signs of recovery” and expects Bath to continue to flourish this year.

Jones Lang LaSalle notes that new retailers have filled the spaces left by others and adds that the Southgate retail development has had a major positive impact. It adds that the offices sector “has made great strides” in readdressing the balance in terms of supply over demand with take-up recorded at 100,000 sq ft in 2012 – a 20% increase from 2011. John Mulholland notes there were 40 deals for Bath office space recorded in 2012, and says a number of office occupiers were influenced by the ‘Southgate effect’ to expand or relocate close by. The retail development has pulled the business district of Bath southwards, and has improved the appeal of the wider city, giving this area “a genuine sense of arrival”.

Three hotel developments are either on site or about to start in Bath, JLL notes; the housing market is showing increased confidence and the University of Bath’s recent positioning in the UK’s top three by the Sunday Times “can only further feed into the success of the Bath economy”.