A guide to serviced offices and office space to rent in Norwich as well as general information that may be useful if you are thinking of renting office space in Norwich.
History & Geography
Norwich is located in the far east of England in the country of Norfolk in the area known as East Anglia. The city is bisected by the River Wensum which then meets the River Yare flowing up from the south of the city. Norwich started life as a small Anglo-Saxon settlement in the fifth century which gradually grew to become the foremost trading centre in the area. By the 11the century Norwich had expanded significantly and was a busy hub of commerce, mainly due to its advantageous position on the River Yare which is navigable to the North Sea. However in 1004 it was raided by the Viking commander Sven Forkbeard and burnt to the ground. Nevertheless the city was rebuilt and continued to prosper. By the time of the Norman Conquest in 1066 Norwich was one of the largest and richest cities in the country. The Normans added to the city’s strategic importance by constructing a castle in the city, the only one of its kind in East Anglia. The city continued to prosper during the Middle Ages, especially from the wool trade. This trade funded the construction of dozens of churches and currently Norwich has more medieval churches than any other city in Western Europe. During the 16th century the population of the city was bolstered by the arrival of many Dutch and Flemish immigrants fleeing Catholic persecution. Eventually these refugees made up one third of the population of Norwich. The city integrated the immigrants and their trading connections with Europe added to the city’s prosperity. The Flemish refugees also brought with them to the city their pet canaries which they bred locally and which eventually became, and remain, the city’s mascot. The city continued to prosper throughout the 17th and 18th centuries off the back of its wool and textile trade, and developed a thriving cultural scene. Norwich declined somewhat during the industrial revolution of the 19th century, losing out to England’s northern industrial hubs. However it retained its reputation for textile manufacturing as well as its shoe-making industry. In the 20th century the city also acquired a reputation for chocolate manufacturing as well aircraft design. Norwich sustained severe bomb damage during WWII but was extensively rebuilt in the following years. Today it is one of the most important cities in eastern England and a hub of education, trade and service-based industries.
Like many cities in England Norwich’s economy has undergone a significant change in character, from manufacturing to mainly service-based industries. The insurance and financial services company Aviva, formerly known as Norwich Union, is the best example of the kind of company which is dominant in the Norwich economy. One production company that still survives in the area is Colman’s, the maker of mustard and other condiments, which still operates out of its factory at Carrow. Publishing is also a major industry in the city, with the company Archant being the largest in the field. Archant publishes four daily newspapers and 75 weekly ones as well as a host of magazines. Norwich also has a thriving retail industry and is among the top ten most prosperous shopping destinations in the UK. Norwich is also a popular destination for students with the University of East Anglia, based on the city’s outskirts, one of the most foremost universities in the country.
Culture & Tourism
While Norwich is obviously not one of the UK’s foremost tourist destinations, it has become a popular place to take a city break. Among its attractions are Norwich Cathedral which dates from the 12th century and is one of the finest examples of Norman architecture in the country. Norwich is also known for the cobbled streets and museums of its old quarter as well as Norwich Castle which has been transformed into a museum and art gallery. Norwich is also well known for the Norfolk and Norwich Festival, an arts festival held every May which is among the largest and most well respective in the UK. Additionally Norwich has a thriving theatre culture with many venues including the Theatre Royal, Norwich Playhouse, Maddermarket Theatre and Norwich Puppet Theatre. The city is also well known for its thriving night life, mainly located around Tombland, Prince of Wales Road and the Riverside area close to Norwich station. The abundance of students in the city make the nightlife and music scene more vibrant than most.
Norwich railway station, located in the east of the city, has service to London Liverpool Street every half hour as well as Liverpool, Nottingham, Manchester and Cambridge. The city itself is served by an extensive bus system popular among residents. The city’s airport, Norwich International Airport, is a feeder to KLM’s Schipol and is served by FlyBe, Eastern Airways and Bristow Helicopters.
The Norwich office market has a supply of almost eight million square feet with a vacancy rate of approximately ten percent. However recent forecasts have predicted the vacancy rate will drop in the coming year. Rents are stable at an approximate average of GBP 16.50 per square foot per month. The main out of town location is the Broadland Business Park, an ever-expanding high-tech office and industrial accommodation. Like virtually all sizable cities in the UK Norwich suffered considerable in the aftermath of the financial crisis, however there have been signs recently that the local economy is starting a slow recovery along with the rest of the country.