Office Leasing Guide - Plymouth
Maritime city Plymouth occupies a prime position on Devon’s south coast. Its major port has made it a popular base for businesses since the days of the Roman Empire, and it remains a bustling hub for trade.
It may be most well-known for its annual music festival, but Reading in Berkshire is also a fantastic area to do business in. The town is a major commercial centre, which has been ranked the UK’s top spot for economic growth and wellbeing thanks to positive levels of employment, health, income, and skills. In fact, the town has been rated the 7th best place in the country to find a job, with 0.15 job seekers per vacancy. It’s estimated that some 30,000 inward commuters arrive in Reading every morning.
The town has a large supply of qualified and experienced senior management people – those who trained and worked in central London but relocated out for family reasons. And sector wise, organisations in insurance, information technology, professional and scientific activities are in abundance here – and are all expected to continue seeing promising growth. The Reading 2050 Vision hopes to see the town become an internationally recognised smart and sustainable economy, with green technology businesses and innovation at the heart of its development.
Talent pours out from the University of Reading, ranked 29th out of 84 UK universities in the QS World University Rankings 2020. The university is a great friend to local businesses of all sizes, offering the chance to access their research (98% of which is rated as being of international standing), recruit talent (95% of graduates find work within 15 months of graduating) and develop staff through the Henley Business School. Large corporates and SMEs are also able to access cutting-edge laboratories at the Thames Valley Science Park as well as flexible office space and a variety of conference and meeting rooms.
Interestingly, despite all this activity, Reading continues to be one of the largest urban areas in the UK without city status. The town has bid for city status on three occasions, in 2000, 2002 and 2012, but still with no luck.
Reading’s proximity to London and Heathrow airport have made it an attractive space for UK and international businesses. In fact, the town is thought to have the highest density of international businesses in England. Many organisations have head offices here, including Microsoft, Visa, Barclays, HSBC, and KPMG. Procter & Gamble have also established an innovation centre in town, the second largest in the world of its kind, which helps produce Gillette razors.
Looking at all these names, it’s not surprising that Reading has become somewhat of a hub for businesses in ICT and Business & Financial Services. According to KPMG, Reading is ranked top in the UK as a tech employment cluster, home to 20% of the most successful private and independent tech companies in the south of England. Business services make up 40% of all central Reading businesses.
There are a few notable business parks in Reading. Reading International, with its easy access to the motorway and town centre, has attracted global businesses including Verizon, Aspentech, Investec and Ericsson. Amenities in the park include a restaurant, coffee and snack bars, and an on-site children’s nursery.
Most technology businesses, including Microsoft and HP, are in the Thames Valley Park. Combining modern office space with 80 acres of nature reserve along the River Thames, it’s a popular place to work. The park is easy to access by road, rail, bus, and bicycle. In fact, there’s an exclusive shuttle bus service running from the park to Reading Station throughout the day, which is free for employees to use.
Another key area is the Green Park Business Park. It’s currently home to 7,000 workers and in September 2020 opened two new buildings, each offering over 116,000 square feet of premium office space.
Reading has some of the best transport links in England.
For long-distance travel, the M4 motorway is easily accessible, serving Reading with junctions J10, J11 and J12. Once on the M4, it’s an easy trip up to London or down to Bristol. Other major roads serving the town include the A33, A327, A329 and A4155.
Reading station, which functions both as a main transfer point and terminus, was refurbished and given additional platforms in 2015, at a cost of £850 million. From this station, you can easily travel to both Paddington and Waterloo stations in London. According to the Executive Director of Reading CIC, Nigel Horton-Baker, this connection is one of the reasons many businesses are moving their back office, marketing, and sales functions to Reading, while maintaining a smaller City of London address.
In addition to Reading station, you can also catch a train from Reading West, Tilehurst and Earley. Green Park Business Park is also expected to get its own station, which is currently under development.
By road, Heathrow is just 25 miles away. But you can also take an express bus service, known as RailAir, or take the train towards Paddington, changing at Hayes and Harlington.
There are plenty of bus operators in town, including Reading Buses, Arriva Shires & Essex, Courtney Buses and Thames Travel. However, be prepared for peak hour congestion since many people travel by road.
In 2011, the council approved a new bike sharing scheme. Those interested in using two wheels can access one of 1,000 available bicycles, located at 150 docking stations across the town.
Whether you’re hosting colleagues or clients, Reading has lots of hotels on offer. One of the top-rated luxury hotels is The Roseate, once described by The Evening Standard as being ‘the UK’s sexiest townhouse hotel’. The hotel retains much of its 20th century charm and houses a collection of art from around the world, as well as an Italian chandelier with 86,000 glass beads.
Other stylish stays include Malmaison Reading, which includes a brasserie, bar and on-site meeting rooms, and the Hilton Reading, just a 26-minute rail trip from London Paddington. For a stay near the river, the Great House at Sonning offers a selection of rooms in various quirky buildings full of history and character.
For affordable stays, there is also the choice of Travelodge, Premier Inn, Novotes, ibis Style and Crowne Plaza.
Reading is full of flavours. For a good work lunch or client dinner, enjoy Asian fusion at the Coconut Bar & Kitchen, where you can sample Japanese Katsu Curry or Malaysian Rice Noodles. Miller & Carter serve up some of the best hand-cut British and Irish steaks, while Quattro has authentic Italian and gourmet pizzas. Try Momo House for rich Nepalese dishes or stick with the waterside Zest at Lime Square for more familiar British and European flavours. And for a Christmas party, Las Iguanas has all the best flavours of Latin America – from tapas to enchiladas – with the vibe to match.
There are lots of meeting rooms available across Reading, from those in nearby hotels including The Roseate to those in the Thames Valley Science Park. But for a real informal, creative, and communal vibe, the Curious Lounge was recently opened in November 2019 and offers a relaxed business lounge, café and meeting rooms of various sizes, perfect for meetings or workshops. It’s also just a two-minute walk from the train station.
In addition to being a busy commercial centre, Reading is also a prominent retail centre. The main shopping street is Broad Street, home to both Broad Street Mall and The Oracle, a large indoor shopping centre that boasts 90 shops, 22 restaurants, cafes and bars and an 11-screen Vue cinema.
For the active type, the Rivers Ibis Health Club is a private members club that offers everything from a fully equipped gym to fitness classes, a sauna and steam room, and squash and tennis courts. The Nuffield Health club is another great choice, offering health checks, personal trainers, and cognitive behavioural therapists. But if it’s just a walk and breath of fresh air that’s needed, Reading has over 100 parks and playgrounds, the largest and most popular of which is Prospect Park.
Jane Austen attended the Reading Ladies Boarding School between 1784 and 1786.
Oscar Wilde was imprisoned in the Reading Goal for two years, from 1895 to 1897. It was during his time here that he wrote the famous De Profundis
Reading School is the 16th oldest school in England, founded in 1125.
The Reading Festival is the world’s oldest music festival still in existence today. It attracts close to 100,000 people each year.
If you’ve always wanted to work near the coast, Bournemouth and Poole are two great options for running a business in. Once the playground of fisherman, today the two areas are seeing prominent business growth and innovation. With a young and skilled population and a diverse mix of sectors, there are lots of exciting opportunities here.