OXFORDSHIRE needs new speculative office developments to start now to keep up with demand.

That is the conclusion of a major new report into the sector after a major hike in take up of accommodation last year.

The Commercial Edge Oxfordshire 2014 research report compiled by Summertown-based Carter Jonas, shows 185,517 sq ft of space was snapped up last year, a rise of 28 per cent on the previous year.

And it predicts rents could rise by almost 30 per cent from £23.50 per sq ft at the end of 2013 to £30 per sq ft this year.

Jon Silversides, head of Oxford agency at Carter Jonas, said: “In line with improving take-up levels, Oxfordshire has witnessed a sharp reduction in vacancy rates with strengthening demand as a result of improving market conditions.

“The supply of good quality accommodation is now acutely low.

“Development activity remains acutely low throughout the regional markets. 101 & 102 Park Drive at MEPC’s Milton Park is the first speculative development within Oxfordshire for six years. The supply of good quality stock is now reaching acutely low levels.”

Mr Silversides warned that if development does not take place, the “overall future viability” of Oxfordshire’s office market will be affected.

The report adds the county has significant development capacity but available land is largely concentrated in a limited number of business park locations, potentially restricting growth for certain occupiers.

But development at Milton Park and design and build activity in Banbury indicate a “much brighter future” for the county.

For a copy of the research report, visit the website www.carterjonas.co.uk/commercialedge