After a tumultuous 2020, property’s leading figures share their hopes and expectations for 2021 as the year gets off to a rocky start with yet another lockdown.
Senior partner, Invel
We are optimistic about the future of the tourism and hospitality industry and think it will recover faster than some predict, as the fundamentals that underpin demand remain unchanged.
Put simply, the desire to go on holiday has not gone away, but hoteliers will need to meet new expectations in terms of safety. While ESG has been gaining increasing prominence over recent years, it will now be firmly on the agenda for investors and we expect a sharp uptick in demand for the repositioning of older assets into accredited and sustainable buildings.
Head of urban dynamics, Osborne Clarke
The UK will be at the centre of global climate change discussions when COP26 kicks off in November. Ahead of the event, an increasing number of countries have announced how they plan to meet net zero goals.
Responding to the carbon challenge will continue to be a top priority for the global real estate sector as it looks to reduce emissions from the built environment.
Investors are demanding more visible sustainability across the lifecycle of assets – from sourcing of materials, development, and operation and management. While office and retail occupiers are gradually shifting towards sustainability, there is huge demand from students and young professionals who are highly motivated by climate change and want to live in energy-efficient and environmentally friendly properties.
There are encouraging signs of adoption of cleaner construction practices and methods, retrofitting buildings, new scheme and mobility options, infrastructure design, investing in renewable energy and use of data-driven technologies. But legal considerations will be important this year and beyond as businesses will increasingly be held accountable by new climate-reporting regulations.
Senior VP and head of UK and Germany, Pembroke
Even as workspace trends evolve, we are confident that grade A City of London office space will retain its long-term value.
We expect to see a flight to quality as occupiers favour well-located, smart-enabled spaces designed to enhance productivity and employee engagement, regardless of the changing working patterns.
From our experience in cities across the globe, an urban workforce will continue to be drawn to amenity-rich spaces that offer best-in-class health and wellbeing facilities, and these will fast become the minimum requirement in economic powerhouse locations such as the City.
Businesses will prioritise partnerships with landlords that offer true responsiveness and agility. This will be ever more critical at a time when businesses are reviewing their working practices and adapting to the new needs of the workforce. In a low-touch world, where occupiers seek ease of access and range of facilities, it will be the long-term impact of “high touch” customer service that will add value.
Partner and head of residential development, Bidwells
While the housing market’s performance is usually intertwined with the wider economy, 2020 was somewhat of an anomaly; house prices continued to rise while the UK economy shrank at a pace not seen in the last 65 years.
Economic recovery this year will be based on building homes and government will continue supporting the sector to deliver on its ‘build, build, build’ ambitions, but it will want to see green housebuilding principles at the heart of everything the sector does. Government is likely to change its focus from Help-to-Buy type support to directing financial support at those building and buying green homes.
We also are likely to see increased support for SME housebuilders. By investing here, government can have a significant impact on housing numbers by opening up a significant new market. Small or medium sized businesses could significantly scale up their operations to have a big impact on numbers while also being motivated to innovate and deliver high-quality homes in sustainable developments.
At Bidwells, we expect momentum to carry through into 2021. In the past year, we’ve acted on behalf of clients to secure enough parcels of land to deliver up to 20,000 new homes. At an average house price of £250,000, that equates to a GDV of between £4bn and £5bn – astronomical figures, given the double-dip recession we’re in.
Chairman and co-founder, Rocket Properties
I hope the new direction we’re taking Rocket Properties in, turning our attention to net carbon zero buildings, is not just a positive change environmentally, but also a big draw for commercial tenants. We’ll be further progressing our net carbon zero building in Old Street, which will deliver over 150,000 sq ft of office space and 300 hotel bedrooms.
Contrary to some media reports, we don’t see 2021 as marking the death of the office. While increased flexibility can only be a good thing, having a space for colleagues to meet and collaborate remains pivotal to business, and offices will continue to be the place much of this happens.
The Tech City area around Old Street has also become well established as a desirable place to live in recent years and we expect this upward momentum to continue, especially for developments like The Atlas Building that provide for buyer priorities such as outside space and flexible layouts.
Forecast for 2021: looking ahead with hope
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Forecast for 2021: looking ahead with hope (part 31)