At the beginning of a new year and decade, property’s leading lights reveal their hopes, expectations and resolutions for 2020 in the second of a two-part special.
Senior partner, Bidwells
The Oxford-Cambridge Arc is of paramount importance to the UK, contributing an estimated £116bn each year to the economy.
I hope Boris Johnson sticks to his manifesto pledge of doubling government research and development spending to £18bn. Since 2015, the UK’s share of EU research money has fallen dramatically to €500m (£425m).
Government must also make an effort to relax the UK’s rigid planning system to make it easier for facilities such as laboratories and offices to be built at a pace that keeps up with demand.
Johnson has redrawn the electoral map of Britain. The Conservatives’ emphatic victory is what the country’s real estate market has been craving.
While January is likely to be dominated by the government’s efforts of ratifying Johnson’s Withdrawal Agreement Bill, February and beyond are going to be much more about domestic policies. My expectation is that areas such as the Midlands and the north of England are going to benefit greatly from a large chunk of the government’s £100bn infrastructure fund. This will be welcome news for areas such as the Oxford-Cambridge Arc.
Resolutions: We take time at Bidwells to enjoy everything we do. Let’s keep doing that.
Finance director, Fabrix Capital
We want to see further momentum in the de-carbonisation of society and hope that, like Fabrix Capital, more businesses and the financial community make this a core part of their operations.
Few people would have expected to see a link between Greta Thunberg and hedge funds in 2019, but it was interesting to see an activist fund (TCI) calling out companies for poor environmental reporting and those businesses reacting – hopefully more businesses will follow this lead.
We expect sustainable construction and low energy usage by tenants to become even more important to developers, occupiers and investors in 2020.
Sustainability will remain central to the way in which Fabrix operates – as it has done since our formation in 2016 – and is central to the way we repurpose buildings. We will look to unearth ever-more innovative ways to reduce the impact our projects have on the environment.
Resolutions: To continue to break down barriers between tenants, landlords and their neighbours. The need for greater fairness in society is more important than ever, with some sections of society having been left behind.
Part of our ethos is to provide high-quality office space to previously under-served areas and to genuinely engage with the local community by offering access to working space, resources and events in shared outdoor spaces.
We will continue to focus on the structure, surroundings, soul and sustainability of our buildings and tailor each site to its locality by incorporating local elements and products that take a building back to its roots and ensuring it is connected to the community.
Founder and chief executive, flatfair
Real estate has for too long lagged behind other sectors in adopting tech-driven solutions – 2020 must be the year that the industry takes a leap forward and adopts innovation.
Open banking, 5G and many other advances have the potential to revolutionise property, whether that’s by making renting fairer and more transparent or through harnessing big data to help investors and operators make better-informed decisions. We’re at a turning point for new innovators to enter the ring and improve the quality of service available.
With the recent election bringing much-needed clarity over the direction that the UK is heading in, the industry can now focus on driving a fairer, more transparent and accessible market. This will be made possible through increased investment in innovators and start-ups offering truly disruptive products. We are likely to see a surge in funding for these products as confidence in the industry rises.
Tech-driven solutions are key to driving a better experience for all parties involved, and I expect to see demand for these platforms strengthen, especially in the rental market where tenants increasingly expect a seamless and hassle-free service.
Resolutions: To continue to bring trust and transparency to the rental sector and make it widely accessible. For too long, traditional deposits have created an adversarial relationship between landlords and tenants, which is why we are striving to bring our service to every corner of the rental sector in 2020.