We do a lot of talking about going ‘beyond real estate’ in our business, and you’ll see it as a proud signature on all our emails.
It’s not that we’ve gone off the subject - far from it. It’s just that we recognise that the future of good real estate advice and solutions will require us to have a much deeper understanding and involvement with the organisations who use and invest in it.
‘Partnership’ is an overused word these days and dare I say the consultancy world is more than a little to blame for it losing impact. That’s a shame because if you look at any great real estate project, be that delivery of a major regeneration scheme through to ‘simply’ evolving advice and services, it is the spirit of partnership, combining skills, risk and reward, which always drives the best outcomes.
The ‘P’ word was bouncing around last month, when a number of my colleagues took part in the Public Property Summit in collaboration with Property Week. It brought together experienced heads from the public and private sectors to debate how we bring land owned or heavily influenced by the public sector into beneficial use more quickly. nless you’ve been on Mars for the past few years, you’ll be aware there is a real estate thread running through a lot of the challenges in the public sector.
There is a real ambition to work with estates that are not fit for purpose, cost too much to run and to which useful capital is tied that could be employed elsewhere. And then there are the houses you can build on the surplus.
Just another debate some might say, but a very healthy one with concessions from both sides and certainly acknowledgment from the private sector that understanding and empathy beyond their core subject is the way to win over critical stakeholders.
I’m not an advocate of talking for the sake of it but if there was ever a marriage worth fighting for, it’s this one. Let’s keep the discussions going.
Another of my colleagues, Giulia Bunting, is vice-president of the British Council for Shopping Centres (BCSC). Over the years, BCSC has served as a hugely credible forum that has brought together members from all shopping formats and all locations in the retail and retail property space.
The BCSC is a fantastic example of an organisation that is developing its knowledge, influence and membership ‘beyond real estate’. That’s why Giulia, her fellow board members and the executive team have been busy canvassing opinion across and beyond the industry to deliver the BCSC’s Strategy 2020. The thriving future of retail in the UK is in the hands of many. I know Giulia for one is determined to bring them ever closer together.
If there was ever a reminder that the levers pulling on real estate demand are many, it’s being part of an organisation that does a whole lot more than real estate. We’re part of a group that itself inhabits a portfolio of more than 6m sq ft, from standard offices to customer management centres and science labs.
The group is involved with clients ranging from household retailers to government departments and that means we see at close quarters the impact that business transformation has on their (and our group’s) real estate requirements. All that ‘outside world’ exposure is also pretty useful for bringing new ideas into our real estate services.
So as the EU referendum approaches and our whole industry is working to predict and plan for an uncertain future, we’ll be proudly bearing our ‘beyond real estate’ signatures. Whatever the referendum outcome, the future of the industry relies on bringing all those with a vested interest into closer and more trusting working relations.
Alan Dornford is managing director of real estate at Capita Real Estate