For companies operating within the creative industries, Manchester may be the ideal base, as the city recently came out on top in a first of its kind report released by commercial property and real estate company CBRE. Titled ‘Creative Regions’, the report sought to highlight those areas in the UK (excluding London) which carry the characteristics of successful creative locations. These characteristics make the locations well suited to those companies offering publishing, film, TV, media, digital, computer programming, and information services.

The report identifies the following chacteristics as indicative of a successful creative location: large concentrations of creative businesses and professionals; deep talent pools of highly educated graduate populations; large and growing millennial populations; good transport connections; quality of life; and proximity to world class universities with strong research and computer science ratings.

Manchester performed exceptionally across 15 weighted metrics, occupying the upper end of the table in relation to the aforementioned characteristics. Add to this the modest office costs of the area, along with reasonable house prices, decent average earnings, and a high level of employment, and it becomes more apparent as to why Manchester leads the pack by such a substantial margin as it does.

A number of smaller locations within the Thames Valley made it surprisingly high up the list, proving it’s not only the big cities that offer value to such industries. Reading, Newbury, Bracknell, and Slough, not the first places to spring to mind in such circumstances, all made the top 25. Reading actually managed to secure the number 2 spot on the list, despite only having approximately one quarter of the office floor space available as compared to larger locations such as Manchester; a testament to the high and concentrated level of creative businesses and talent in the area.

Despite a generally high cost of living in such areas, locations throughout the East and South East managed to occupy 11 of the top 25 spots. This is largely due to the minor negative factors being offset by the positive. For example, while living costs are high, higher average salaries compensate well for this. Office rents are also higher here than in other areas, but the mass concentration of tech talent on offer helps businesses cover this cost down the line.

“The tech phenomena looks set to continue in the UK,” James McLean, Senior Director of the CBRE Advisory & Transaction Services Occupier team, said of the report. “Technology and creative industries, in general are not affected by regulatory restrictions or fears over single market access. Contrary to common perception, a large number of these companies are based outside of the capital. Evidence shows that a number of regional centres also contain a critical mass of talent necessary to compete successfully in this sector.

“There are many other tempting reasons to draw creative industries businesses to the UK regions such as attractive quality of life and favourable cost of living.  Indeed, given the growing cost of higher education, and the cost of living in the capital, the large regional centres are increasingly proving a compelling proposition for graduates and employers alike.”

Sam Bonson

Sam is an aspiring novelist with a passion for fantasy and crime thrillers. He is currently working as a content writer, journalist & editor in an attempt to expand his horizons.
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