After two years of unprecedented challenges faced by real estate, experts share their predictions for 2022.
Partner, Barton Willmore
In 2022, the government must put town planning at the centre of the levelling-up debate. This is crucial to building resilient places and ensuring investment has long-term benefits, with social and transport infrastructure to support new development, whether it is housing or a new leisure centre.
The new Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities has the opportunity to create a holistic and nationwide approach to ensure consistency of targets and standards, from high-quality design to net zero. Levelling up can only be achieved by effective planning in advance and scrutiny on delivery.
Success also requires properly resourcing town planning services at all levels of government and parts of the UK to attract bright and creative minds to help to shape the communities of the future. Only then can we achieve the most crucial part of the levelling-up agenda – ensuring left-behind communities reap long-term benefits.
Executive director of city development, Sunderland City Council
Last year was one of significant transformation for Sunderland, with an unprecedented number of new schemes announced and getting under way at Riverside Sunderland, our sustainable urban quarter in the heart of the city, as well as out-of-town industrial schemes such as Hillthorn Park and huge announcements of investment at the International Advanced Manufacturing Park.
This year will be about maintaining the positive momentum we have established, and we’re expecting to make more announcements about significant new investment and indeed occupiers in the heart of Sunderland, as we work towards our goal of doubling the number of people living in the city centre and increasing employment by 50%. We expect there to be more than £350m of live development projects under way on Riverside Sunderland in 2022, an unarguable indicator of the confidence and ambition in Sunderland right now.
Chief executive and founder, Etopia Group
From signing a first-of-its-kind partnership with Homes England to getting planning permission for our biggest scheme to date, 2021 was yet another milestone year for Etopia. But in 2022, our mission of helping housebuilding make the transition to net zero is far from done. Decarbonising housing requires a step change in not only how homes are built but also how they operate.
To reach net zero, developers have to focus on bringing consumers with them on the journey because, ultimately, the economy will be most reliant on us to live cleaner, greener lifestyles. Over a typical mortgage life, a standard home will emit around 150 tonnes of carbon dioxide – equivalent to driving 376,000 miles. Therefore, an operations-led approach – one that monitors and optimises energy performance using technologies such as sensors – will be vital. This is how we at Etopia are able to go beyond the maximum EPC result of 100, with an average of 104.
Chairman and chief executive, Town Centre Securities
While we are still a far cry from ‘normal’, it is encouraging to see the high street opening, with many of our hospitality tenants flourishing as customers crave an experience outside their homes, and workplaces reignite the collaboration and innovation that fuels our growth and builds our future.
We very much hope that the restrictions, together with any further changes the government makes in the coming weeks, will not have too much of an impact on the improvements we are enjoying.
TCS will continue to actively manage key properties and sell certain retail assets to maximise available capital, invest in our development pipeline and acquire new assets to improve our portfolio.
Covid-19 remains the big risk, as any further lockdowns would create further damage, and the need for the government to communicate its plans clearly in advance is absolutely crucial.
I’m confident that our focus on our core cities of Leeds and Manchester, where we are helping to create a sense of place and purpose for living and working, will enable us to generate value for all our stakeholders.
Chief executive, Palace Capital
Last year saw the steady recovery of the real estate sector from the pandemic, with rent collections beginning to return to pre-pandemic levels, and at Palace Capital we ended the year with strong rent collection in excess of 95% for the September quarter.
Despite the guidance to work from home, there is an increasing appetite for regional offices across the UK. Our view is that those companies that have delayed fulfilling their office requirements may find that when they are ready, the ship will have sailed and the best spaces will have been snapped up.
The economic potential of the regions will be enhanced as we expect further infrastructure investment in the much-anticipated levelling-up white paper. I am very upbeat about 2022 and provided inflationary pressures are relatively limited, I see further growth in these areas especially, due to an underlying lack of supply.
Head of UK property, Merchant Land
The budget highlighted the importance of brownfield land to the delivery of homes across England, with a £1.8bn package of funding to unlock space for 160,000 new homes. This increased recognition of the role of brownfield land to provide housing and mixed-use schemes in well-connected urban areas will continue to accelerate in 2022.
SMEs have a crucial role to play in delivering schemes on these smaller urban sites and are an essential part of a competitive market. I would like to see the playing field levelled to enable more SMEs to succeed in this space. The planning reform white paper is expected early this year and we need wholesale reform that allows space for SMEs to prosper in the development market to achieve the target of 300,000 homes a year.
Chief executive, IPUT
The past couple of years have been truly transformative for real estate and while many have suffered, many positive long-term trends have emerged that I think – and hope – will further establish themselves in the year ahead.
One is the need for property owners to be more than just landlords; we are custodians of the public realm and this responsibility has come into sharper focus as occupiers become ever more discerning. Linked to this is the need to recognise our role in the environment and in creating cleaner, more inviting, sustainable places.
This is easier said than done, but the commitment to this goal is fundamental to the future of our sector and it is clear that we will need to take stock this year and ensure that we deliver in the best possible way for all our stakeholders – investors, occupiers, visitors, and local authorities.
Chairman and chief executive, Stoneweg
Demographics has become the dominant theme in real estate, whether that is beds, sheds, retail or offices. The industry has been keeping a close eye on the debate about where people will end up in the long term – whether, for example, the working-from-home phenomenon will mean more people move to new areas or cities permanently.
Wherever they land, people will always need homes to live in and, as was proven at certain points in the past year, remain keen to travel. Hospitality and residential are high-conviction sectors for us and so we are cautiously optimistic for the year ahead, should we get through this winter relatively unscathed.
While we will continue to see inflationary pressures and interest rates may begin to nudge up, in England they are still at historical lows and so capital will continue to look to real estate for more attractive returns.
Predictions for 2022: Brace yourself…
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