If not central London then where? Alternatives to the capital’s rental hotspots
(1) Stratford One for the future, East London’s most rapidly-developing district is set to become an increasingly important part of the capital’s office rental scene. The area is set aside from the West End, the City and Canary Wharf but boasts excellent transport link to these key hubs of commerce. As weve said, it’s one that’s just going to keep developing. Following the 2012 Olympics, serious levels of investment have been ploughed into the area. You only have to step outside of Stratford International or take a trip along the DLR through the acres of growing high-rises to this part of London is really on the up. Particularly of note for businesses is the International Quarter which will contain, amongst other things, millions of square feet of top-class office space.
(2) Croydon Described last year as the tech-city of South London, Croydon is certainly getting an increasingly-impressive billing from those in the know. Indeed the borough announced last year it was the fastest-growing tech hub in the whole of the capital; impressive stuff. So if you’re a tech startup and have been put off by the prices near the digital roundabout, or your budget won’t stretch to a space in Soho, it could really pay to consider Croydon. The area also boasts its own tram system and, like Stratford, offers close proximity to, and excellent transport links into, the capital (regular trains head to St. Pancras, Victoria and London Bridge).
(3) Kingston upon Thames In leafy West London, youll find Kingston upon Thames, an attractive and appealing town, again with some great links to the capital (direct trains take around half an hour). Despite this close proximity (and a burgeoning business community and strong office space market) Kingston, with its pleasant waterfront and cordial atmosphere, can feel like a world away from the hustle and bustle just down the road. If you expand your net youll find even more options within a short distance of Kingston. Other nearby areas that could be fruitful are Twickenham and Richmond, both of which offer some of the charms of Kingston with similar proximity to London.
(4) St Albans If you’re looking beyond the borders of the M25 (and why shouldnt you?) then St Albans could well be your first port of call. Like Kingston it is leafy and attractive with excellent road and rail links to the capital, but the town also boasts a burgeoning economy with a strong number, and great variety, of properties available. There are nearly 10, 000 businesses registered in St Albans not bad for one of the smallest cities in the UK. Almost 90 per cent of these are microbusinesses comprised of ten people or fewer, though there is variety. At the other end of the scale the city plays host to giants such as Deloitte and Aon Hewitt, so there’s plenty of superb company.
(5) Cambridge Situated only 50 minutes north of London’s Kings Cross, Cambridge is arguably the UK’s startup hotspot outside of the capital. It is the centre of an area dubbed Silicon Fen; a hub for digital ventures in the East of England. Youll also find Microsoft, Spotify, ARM and more, along with a top-class science park and cutting-edge pharma-research at the sprawling Addenbrooke’s hospital complex. Arguably the great draw is the historic city itself, with its charming pubs, grand colleges, winding river and ubiquitous cyclists. Walk its cobbled streets and youll feel echoes of London’s cosmopolitanism on a much reduced and calmer scale. Cambridge is also home to Genie HQ… not that were biased. Image: Shutterstock