A guide to serviced offices and office space for rent in Oxford as well as general information that may be useful if you are thinking of renting office space in the city.
History & Geography
One of England’s most famous cities, Oxford is located in the south of the country approximately 50 miles north of London. Running through the city are the rivers Cherwell and Thames, which meet each other south of the city centre. Oxford was first settled after the arrival of the Saxons in England and originally bore the name Oxenaforda, meaning ‘Ford of the Oxen’. By the tenth century the town had been fortified due to sporadic attacks by the Danes, and the fact that it was on the sometimes disputed frontier between Mercia and Wessex. During the Norman invasion in the 11th century the town was heavily damaged during the fighting, however was quickly rebuilt. The Normans then built Oxford Castle in the city to ensure it remained loyal. Subsequently the town continued to prosper but failed to grow significantly. It did however start to acquire a reputation as a centre of knowledge and learning. In 1139 Geoffrey of Monmouth wrote History of the Kings of Britain. The city’s famous university was founded in the 12th century, and by the 13th century the university’s college’s were being formed, including University College, Balliol and Merton. It was in these colleges that the writings of the Greek philosophers were translated and that scholars strove to reconcile the tenants of Greek philosophy and Christian Theology. During the English Civil War Charles I had his court in Oxford after being expelled from London, despite the fact that much of the city supported the Parlimentarians. The city was besieged and eventually surrendered to the Parliamentary army under Thomas Fairfax. In 1790 the Oxford Canal was built, connecting the city to Coventry and thereby enhancing trade links between the cities. The 19th century saw the city expand and the construction of Oxford Town Hall. With the advent of the 20th century the city grew rapidly and the industries of printing and publishing became important. The establishment of the Morris Motor Company car works also changed the nature of the town, swelling the population. A later influx of immigrants has made Oxford extremely cosmopolitan in nature and it is currently one of the most diverse small cities in the country.
Oxford has a thriving and fairly diversified economy. Obviously the university itself as well as the various research and business projects around it is a major bulwark of the town’s economy. As one of the most prestigious university’s in the world Oxford routinely attracts visiting professors and academics from all disciplines. Additionally, Oxford has become home to a thriving biotech industry, as well as publishing. The city is also still home to a sizable auto industry, including the manufacturing of vehicle parts. The new Mini is assembled by BMW in Cowley, Oxford, at the Plant Oxford site, a former steel plant. Plant Oxford is the largest employer in Oxfordshire with more than 4,300 employees. Oxford also has a fairly large tourist industry, with visitors coming from all over Europe and the world to visit the famous university and see the city’s historic buildings.
Tourism & Culture
Oxford is perhaps the most famous city in England after London, and this is reflected in the almost ten million visitors the city receives every year. As well as the beautiful buildings of the colleges themselves, many tourists visit Carfax Tower and the University Church of St Mary the Virgin, both of which offer stunning views over the city. The city’s historic covered market is also a major draw, and dates from the 18th century. The city centre is a major retail hub mostly based around Cornmarket Street, Queen Street, St Aldate’s and The High. Like in its counterpart Cambridge, punting is a popular summer activity in Oxford and the city is also wonderful to walk around, being one of the greenest in England and boasting an array of parks and nature walks within the city itself.. Of course the city also offers a wide range of cultural pursuits, not least of all its museums. Among the most popular and famous are the Ashmolean Museum, the Bodleian Library and the Museum of the History of Science. Art buffs will not want to miss Modern Art Oxford, one of the most respected art museums in the country.
Oxford is served by the London Oxford Airport located in Kidlington approximately five miles north of the city. The city itself has an extensive bus system run by Stagecoach and the Oxford Bus Company. Recently hybrid busses have been introduced on several routes. The city’s railway station is approximately half a mile from the city centre and is served by many routes to cities such as Manchester and Edinburgh. Passenger boat services are run down the Thames to Abingdon and further by Salters Steamers.
Much of Oxford’s office space is located outside of town in the popular office parks, such as The Science Park and Eastpoint Business Park. The Oxford office market was hit fairly hard by the economic crisis and take-up has fallen for the last few years. However it is expected that it will remain steady in 2013, though whether more growth will occur is unknown. Public sector cuts in particular have adversely affected the market. Demand is likely to grow and if development remains restricted could push up rents eventually. However all in all it is likely to be a renter’s market during at least the next year. During 2012 the headline rent was GBP 21.75 per square foot.