So how is everyone feeling? Bleary-eyed after staying up until the early hours glued to the TV? Shocked? Relieved? Confused?
At least the Trump-esque election campaigns are over. Matt Hancock’s aide being ‘punched’, the photo of a sick boy on a hospital floor, Boris Johnson having a smashing time with a JCB ‘Brexit digger’, Labour’s riposte featuring a wall labelled ‘NHS’ and digger emblazoned ‘Tory cuts’… it has been shameless stunt after shameless stunt.
I guess every nation gets the government it deserves, but that’s exactly my worry. While today hopefully also signals the end – or at least beginning of the end – of the whole sorry Brexit saga, sadly, the ugly social and political divides that were exposed by the EU referendum and have deepened ever since show no signs of being bridged.
How can there be effective government of a nation that has been cleaved right down the middle on so many issues, especially when the politicians who aspire to govern can’t help but speak with “forked tongues”, as a characteristically forthright Sir Stuart Lipton puts it in a fascinating interview ahead of the opening of 22 Bishopsgate?
On the plus side, while national and political unity may prove elusive in the coming weeks, months and even years, the property industry has become rather adept at putting on a united front over the past few years (think of all the innovative and sometimes unlikely joint ventures) and despite the backdrop of social disintegration, perhaps partly because of it, it is really starting to grasp the nettle when it comes to social impact.
Lipton (just don’t call him sir) is a case in point. At 77 years of age, he would be forgiven for contemplating his retirement – and let’s face it, Brexit and the current political maelstrom would be as good a time as any to bow out – but he has no intention of giving up the day job anytime soon. Instead, he is mulling his next 22 Bishopsgate, and there is every chance a move into residential may be on the cards as well.
Motivated partly by what he witnessed in the aftermath of the Tottenham riots in 2011, Lipton wants to channel The Kinks’ Village Green Preservation Society and restore a sense of community to the UK’s towns and cities. To do that, he very sensibly suggests a reclassification of green-belt land as primary, secondary and tertiary, with a view to releasing some of the currently untouched tertiary space for housing. Unfortunately, as he points out, “no politician has got the guts for that”.
Let’s hope they find the guts (and develop a backbone while they’re at it) because as Lipton also says: “Humanity is the factor that bridges the gap between housing and offices.” And we sorely need a bit more humanity at the moment, not to mention bridge building.
Give us your best
Still feeling traumatised after yesterday? In need of a distraction? Good news: the nominations are in for ‘Best of the Decade’ and the time has come to pick your favourite scheme, deal and personality of the past 10 years. All you need to do is visit PropertyWeek.com and cast your votes (no spoiling of ballot papers, please). We will reveal the winners in next week’s issue, the last of the decade. No, I can’t believe it either…