Glasgow sees rising appeal as UK real estate investment city

07/09/2023
Chris Rae, a Glasgow-based partner and real estate specialist at CMS

A REPORT released by international law firm CMS has shown that Glasgow’s commercial real estate market has maintained a steady upward increase in its appeal to investors. Scotland’s biggest city is also closing the gap against other major UK cities as a place for real estate investment according to CMS’s Tomorrow – Real Estate Takes the Long View report.

The report, which focuses on the global as well as UK real estate market, includes a survey of UK property professionals which shows Manchester as the nation’s leading ‘big six’ city outside of London. 58% of respondents said it was an appealing location for real estate investment prospects.

While Glasgow sits at the foot of this list with a 19% approval rating, behind Birmingham (35%), Bristol (35%), Edinburgh (30%) and Leeds (28%), it is the only city to experience a steady upward trend as a place to invest since 2016. The gap between Glasgow and Manchester in its appeal to investors has also significantly shrunk, from 57 percentage points in 2016 to 39 points in this latest report.

The rise in Glasgow’s appeal is being attributed to a number of factors including its numerous and well-regarded higher education centres as well as the city’s consequent talent pool and its well-developed transport network.

Glasgow has also seen the development of many ESG-friendly commercial property sites in recent years along with long-term investment from leading corporate organisations, including Morgan Stanley, Barclays, CHUBB, and Virgin Money, further enhancing its profile amongst global real estate investors.

The CMS Tomorrow report also highlighted concerns from across UK real estate sector about the impact of planning on future investment. A massive 90% of UK respondents said they believed the planning system is not working and needs investment with 93% agreeing it is under-resourced. Similar concerns about the potential impact of planning issues on the Scottish market were also raised in the International Scotland report jointly issued earlier this year by CMS and the Fraser of Allander Institute.

Chris Rae, a Glasgow-based partner and real estate specialist at CMS, said: “Our latest global real estate report shows Glasgow is significantly narrowing the gap with Manchester and other UK regional cities as an appealing place for commercial property investment. Our city is often compared with Manchester, not least because of its strong transport links and top-tier talent pool. This ongoing rise in investment appeal suggests Glasgow is on the up with great opportunities yet to be explored in this dynamic city.”

Mark McMurray, a partner and planning specialist at CMS Scotland, said: “The resourcing issues with the planning system that are strongly voiced in our Tomorrow report are equally applicable to Scotland. We often hear how the lack of accessibility to over-stretched officers dealing with planning applications can result in delays to key projects.

“Investment in additional resources would make a huge difference and reduce the delays that are evidenced by planning performance statistics. We must also find ways to improve the clarity in the planning system, reducing the time it takes to get a decision. This will allow developers and investors to expedite their plans or, in the case of a rejected application, quickly move on to their next project.

“Addressing these issues could really bolster Scotland’s economy by further enhancing Glasgow’s as well as other Scottish cities’ position as a prime location for further investment.”

The full CMS report, Tomorrow – Real Estate Takes the Long View, can be accessed here

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