Give me half a chance and I’ll tell you that I’m from Bristol. Not that you wouldn’t notice. My accent gives me away in seconds. Even though I moved to London three and a half years ago, the West Country brogue is still there.
So, if I’m such a Bristolian, why am I still here? Why do I put up with crammed tubes and absurdly expensive pints? It’s because I absolutely love London – which is why I am so happy to see it return to its pre-pandemic glory.
As you will notice in this week’s issue, the capital has finally roared back to life after months of Covid drudgery. West End footfall figures and flexible workspace visits have surged beyond 2019 levels in some cases, with Derwent London chief executive Paul Williams telling Property Week ahead of his speech at the Westminster Property Association annual lunch that people are returning to the city’s offices and restaurants en masse.
The excitement around the city could go some way to explaining why GLP opted to pay more than double the asking price for an industrial site in Park Royal; why Aver Property is selling a warehouse in Southampton to buy an office in London; and why Niccolò Barattieri di San Pietro, chief executive of luxury residential developer Northacre, is so bullish about its The Broadway scheme in Victoria – the SHUAA-backed developer’s debut foray into commercial property.
Not that Northacre has any reason to back away from high-end London residential, with data from Savills predicting that prime central London house prices will soar 23.9% over the next five years.
There are still challenging times ahead, to be sure, not just because a rise in Covid cases could lead to a reintroduction of restrictions – which would frustrate London’s already beleaguered hospitality sector – but also because Gove’s nixing of the Tulip skyscraper has had some experts expressing concern that it could signal the end of tall building development in London.
Yet, even in the case of the Tulip, there are reasons to be cheerful. As director and head of planning consultancy Boyer London Grant Leggett points out, the building was exceptionally controversial. What’s more, he argues the latest incarnation of the London Plan could make it easier, not harder, to build tall in the city if it’s done in the right way. As the philosopher Yazz once said, the only way is up.
Back in the room
While we’re on a positive note, it was a surreal but incredibly exciting experience to see so much of the industry, old and new, in person at this year’s Property Awards – our first physical awards in more than two and a half years. Both the venue and the winners reflected the best of London. It was impossible not to be impressed by the O2 InterContinental’s views of Canary Wharf, while London developer Great Portland Estates bagged a double win for Developer and Property Company of the Year.
It wasn’t all about London, though. This year’s awards also rewarded a plethora of companies excelling outside the capital – such as Bruntwood Works, which picked up the gong for Climate Crisis Initiative for its work across the North West, and Workman, which won the Health & Wellbeing award for its urban garden in Falkirk.
We hope to see even more of you in person next year!