In his first speech as president of The British Property Federation (BPF), Rupert Clarke laid out his agenda for the next year.

Speaking at the lobbying group's AGM on Tuesday, Clarke, the chief executive of Hermes, set out a three point agenda for the year; responding to the downturn, supporting owner occupier relations, and maintaining environmental commitments.

‘It is vital that policy-makers and the wider world fully grasp the importance of the property sector to economic,’ said Clarke.

‘The BPF and other leading industry bodies via the Property Industry Alliance will continue to highlight the importance of these issues.’

He said it was inevitable that there would be more business failures and called on occupiers to recognise that landlords were facing ‘similar or even greater financial challenges’.

‘Building stronger relationships with the occupier community is a priority, continuing the work started by my predecessors through the Owners and Occupiers Forum and carried forward in the work earlier this year on monthly rents and service charges,’ he said.

On the issue of sustainability, Clarke warned: ‘We cannot afford to forget about the challenges of environmental change - and with the heightened political focus on renewable energy and carbon emissions, no government would let us.’