Thursday 17 October 2019

State use of office space up 1,000pc in seven years

Office leasing is up from 5,039 sqm in 2012 to 61,463 sqm. Stock Image: Bloomberg
Office leasing is up from 5,039 sqm in 2012 to 61,463 sqm. Stock Image: Bloomberg
Donal O'Donovan

Donal O'Donovan

State bodies' share of new Dublin offices has risen a staggering 1,000pc since 2012, new figures from Savills show.

Technology firms signing up to take often massive office blocks dominate the market but the rapid growth of the public sector has flown largely under the radar, Savills's chief economist John McCartney said.

The number of people working in public sector bodies in the capital, including government departments and State agencies, is up 50pc since the deepest period of austerity after the crash.

Numbers fell to 25,300 in the first three months of 2012 but have bounced back dramatically to 38,200, particularly since the lifting of the public service recruitment moratorium in Budget 2015.

That has triggered a surge in the State's requirement for office space, according to Mr McCartney. Office leasing by public bodies is up from 5,039 sq m per annum in early 2012 to 61,463 sqm in the first three months of this year. The State largely leases new office space.

In January, the Central Bank agreed to pay €204m for two new offices next to its headquarters on Dublin's North Wall Quay. In simple terms, the increased head count of almost 13,000 across the public sector workers could fill more than 30 office blocks, Mr McCartney added.

At the same time, State bodies have also been moving out of older properties - including the Central Bank's move to new blocks in the Dublin docks and the move by the Department of Health from Hawkins House (built 1965) to the Miesian Plaza on Baggot Street (refurbished in 2017) - although the latter was controversially left vacant for more than a year and a half at an estimated cost of €16m while the move was organised.

Moves into modern offices partly reflect efforts by the Office of Public Works to actively manage the State's property need - including combining some agencies under a single roof and for factors such as green standards impossible to meet in older buildings, Savills said.

Irish Independent

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