More of this, please. Photo: Getty.
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Believe it or not, London doesn't have enough offices

We're demolishing the equivalent of seven Shards, says Deloitte.

Okay, I know this sounds unlikely, but it’s true nonetheless: London is facing a worrying shortage of office space.

This, I suspect, may come as a bit of a surprise. Everyone with an internet connection will know that the capital is facing a housing crisis (if only because there’s a section of the media that talks of little else). But London's commercial property market seems to be thriving. There are huge new developments underway in places like Docklands and King's Cross, and the most visible change to the city over the last few years has been the growing number of skyscrapers dotting the skyline.

And yet, according to the ‘London Office Crane Survey’ published last week by Deloitte, "office space is likely to remain in short supply over the next two years". What gives?

One reason for the apparent disconnect is that the received wisdom that we're building a lot is just, well, wrong: office construction rates have actually been running at below their historical average for five years now. Okay, there are 230 skyscrapers on the cards – but the majority of these don’t have planning permission, and even if they go ahead, most will be residential. Basically, our perceptions are skewed by a few very visible projects.

But there's something else going on, too. While there's 9.2 million square feet of new office space currently under construction, another 4.5 million square feet is being demolished. This, notes Deloitte, is the equivalent of knocking down 7.6 Shards. Throw in an economic recovery, which means more businesses wanting more space, and thing are starting to get a little tight.

Eventually, the shortage should translate into a new wave of developments; that's likely to mean more skyscrapers, if only because of the eye-wateringly high cost of land. That, though, is some way off. This year will see a spike in the number of new buildings completed, but the lowest number of new starts since 2010; there's not much in the pipeline for next year either. All told, it’s likely to be 2017 before the current demolitions start to translate into a new wave of shiny new skyscrapers.

So for the immediate future, the main result of the shortage will be a rise in office rents. Already these are almost back to pre-recession levels, with a West End office now setting you back an average of £110.00 per square foot per year. Great if you own a building – not so great if you just want to rent one.

Here’s an infographic, summarising the report’s full findings.  

This is a preview of our new sister publication, CityMetric. We'll be launching its website soon - in the meantime, you can follow it on Twitter and Facebook.

Jonn Elledge is the editor of the New Statesman's sister site CityMetric. He is on Twitter, far too much, as @JonnElledge.

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Like it or hate it, it doesn't matter: Brexit is happening, and we've got to make a success of it

It's time to stop complaining and start campaigning, says Stella Creasy.

A shortage of Marmite, arguments over exporting jam and angry Belgians. And that’s just this month.  As the Canadian trade deal stalls, and the government decides which cottage industry its will pick next as saviour for the nation, the British people are still no clearer getting an answer to what Brexit actually means. And they are also no clearer as to how they can have a say in how that question is answered.

To date there have been three stages to Brexit. The first was ideological: an ever-rising euroscepticism, rooted in a feeling that the costs the compromises working with others require were not comparable to the benefits. It oozed out, almost unnoticed, from its dormant home deep in the Labour left and the Tory right, stoked by Ukip to devastating effect.

The second stage was the campaign of that referendum itself: a focus on immigration over-riding a wider debate about free trade, and underpinned by the tempting and vague claim that, in an unstable, unfair world, control could be taken back. With any deal dependent on the agreement of twenty eight other countries, it has already proved a hollow victory.

For the last few months, these consequences of these two stages have dominated discussion, generating heat, but not light about what happens next. Neither has anything helped to bring back together those who feel their lives are increasingly at the mercy of a political and economic elite and those who fear Britain is retreating from being a world leader to a back water.

Little wonder the analogy most commonly and easily reached for by commentators has been that of a divorce. They speculate our coming separation from our EU partners is going to be messy, combative and rancorous. Trash talk from some - including those in charge of negotiating -  further feeds this perception. That’s why it is time for all sides to push onto Brexit part three: the practical stage. How and when is it actually going to happen?

A more constructive framework to use than marriage is one of a changing business, rather than a changing relationship. Whatever the solid economic benefits of EU membership, the British people decided the social and democratic costs had become too great. So now we must adapt.

Brexit should be as much about innovating in what we make and create as it is about seeking to renew our trading deals with the world. New products must be sought alongside new markets. This doesn’t have to mean cutting corners or cutting jobs, but it does mean being prepared to learn new skills and invest in helping those in industries that are struggling to make this leap to move on. The UK has an incredible and varied set of services and products to offer the world, but will need to focus on what we do well and uniquely here to thrive. This is easier said than done, but can also offer hope. Specialising and skilling up also means we can resist those who want us to jettison hard-won environmental and social protections as an alternative. 

Most accept such a transition will take time. But what is contested is that it will require openness. However, handing the public a done deal - however well mediated - will do little to address the division within our country. Ensuring the best deal in a way that can garner the public support it needs to work requires strong feedback channels. That is why transparency about the government's plans for Brexit is so important. Of course, a balance needs to be struck with the need to protect negotiating positions, but scrutiny by parliament- and by extension the public- will be vital. With so many differing factors at stake and choices to be made, MPs have to be able and willing to bring their constituents into the discussion not just about what Brexit actually entails, but also what kind of country Britain will be during and after the result - and their role in making it happen. 

Those who want to claim the engagement of parliament and the public undermines the referendum result are still in stages one and two of this debate, looking for someone to blame for past injustices, not building a better future for all. Our Marmite may be safe for the moment, but Brexit can’t remain a love it or hate it phenomenon. It’s time for everyone to get practical.