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Biggest Bracknell office transaction of the year as DWP moves into Phoenix House

The Department for Work & Pensions (DWP) has taken the entire ground floor of refurbished Phoenix House in Bracknell in the biggest office letting in the town this year.

It’s part of an ongoing DWP campaign to acquire vacant office space across the country to house more than 80 new, temporary job centres for appointment based retraining purposes following the pandemic.

Property consultancy Vail Williams acted for the building’s owners MCR Property Group and are letting agents alongside Fryer Commercial and brokered a five-year for the 9,267 sq ft (860.93 sq m) floor.

Detached two-storey Phoenix House, just off the main A329 in Cookham Road, east of Bracknell town centre, is a light and airy 1990s building recently refurbished and fitted out to a high specification, including an open plan environment, comfort cooling/heating system, LED lighting and plentiful natural light and ample parking.

Consultancy Cushman & Wakefield, which is advising the DWP on its property strategy, acted for the government department, responsible for Jobcentre Plus, over Phoenix House.

The 8,691 sq ft (807.42 sq m) first floor remains available to let based on a quoting rent of £17.50 per square foot, making it a compelling economic option for companies looking for office space.

Vail Williams Partner, experienced commercial property specialist Charlie Nicholson, based in Reading, negotiated the DWP deal.

He said: “Bracknell is a renowned Thames Valley office centre and commercial hub with global brands, technology big-hitters and retail giants such as Dell, 3M, Honeywell, Honda, Fujitsu and Panasonic, Waitrose and Fenwick already in situ.

“To attract the DWP into town is significant in that it will not only create jobs but offer an opportunity for the possible retraining of people affected by the pandemic, especially with furlough support about to end.

“More than £770 million has been invested in the huge urban regeneration of Bracknell Forest, including a much-rebuilt town centre, the Lexicon leisure and retail complex and wider area improvements – and we are now reaping the reward of this as big name occupiers are attracted to the area.

Charlie also described the DWP acquisition as a key countercyclical moment in the face of a decrease in demand for office space due to remote working, with the department’s requirements across the country driving increased H1 lettings activity.

Cllr Marc Brunel Walker, the Executive Member for Economic Development and Regeneration in Bracknell Forest, said: “This is exciting news, and an important stage in our continued growth. The DWP moving into Phoenix House will benefit the area both commercially and on an individual basis for our residents.

“Bracknell being transformed into an exciting, vibrant destination with ongoing improvements to infrastructure, roads, housing, education, healthcare and leisure is part of the appeal which has helped to bring in the DWP.”

The government has recruited 13,500 work coaches to help people across the country find their next role, start a new career or re-train in growing industries and they will boost jobseeker support in towns and cities UK wide.

“With the boosted Jobs Army now in place, the Department for Work and Pensions is also investing in temporary jobcentres for the new recruits, ensuring as many people as possible can access the right support, including Bracknell, an important regional centre.

Founded in 1989, Manchester-headquartered MCR Property Group provides property services nationally and has developed more than £5bn of residential, commercial and industrial property.

Bracknell, part of the ‘UK Silicon Valley’, houses the largest cluster of tech companies outside of London and ongoing developments in the town until 2032 have led to forecasts of a nine per cent increase in rental prices between 2022 and 2025.

The town’s superb road communications via J10 of the M4 and J3 of the M3 allow easy access to all parts of the Thames Valley, the Blackwater Valley to the south and the national motorway network and London Heathrow and Gatwick airports.

Bracknell station, from where bus services run every 10 minutes past Phoenix House, links directly to London Waterloo (two services an hour, soon increasing to four) and via Reading to London Paddington.

Vail Williams’ full-service property advice includes property valuation, planning and lease advice, investment and development expertise, property asset management and occupier consultancy. 

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