18th Jun 2018

The Future’s Looking Bright and Upwards: An overview of 2018’s The London Real Estate Forum

It seems the sky’s the limit.

In new buildings being built across the City of London, there’s now more emphasis on green roof spaces. While over at Heathrow Airport, a third runway is good for UK business (as long as significant infrastructure is delivered at the same time).

These are just two of the key points to come out of last week’s The London Real Estate Forum (LREF), London’s premier real estate event for development and investment.

Two days, 35 exhibitors, 188 projects showcased, 20 London boroughs represented: the LREF brings together the leading players developing or investing in London. And naturally, the team from Henry Riley was there.

Green spaces are vital

In a discussion on the future of the City of London, led by Kathryn Harrison of Deutsche Bank, she talked about the drivers behind the bank’s decision to locate their new HQ in the City of London at 21 Moorfields, seen as a major vote of confidence in the capital after the EU referendum result.

The bank felt it was it was important on a logistical, time zone and skills basis to commit to London and more specifically the City of London, even in light of the uncertainty around Brexit.

Also on the panel were Digby Flower, Chairman UK & Ireland, Cushman & Wakefield; Chris Hayward, Chairman of the Planning and Transportation Committee, City of London; Don Rowlands, Partner - Real Estate, Herbert Smith Freehills LLP (Chair); Tim Roberts, Head of Offices, British Land; and Tina Paillet, Generali Real Estate.

The discussion turned to how office sector is adapting, the importance of public realm spaces and how this is affecting building design in the City of London.

The panel agreed that:

  • There is now more emphasis on the 5th Elevation (the roof), with these being made into green areas for office occupants.
  • Public realm spaces are not just on the ground level of new developments but are being integrated within tall buildings intermittently throughout the building
  • The ‘working space’ will become a mix of formal and informal office space, retail spaces and green spaces, along with food and drink offerings.

Questions were raised as to whether this will inevitably increase service charges and stifle growth. But the panel felt it would be the reverse of this. Those that do not move forward with this vision will have buildings that companies won’t choose to work in and will consequently be left behind.

Commercial development required

With the Airport Commission recently recommending a third runway at Heathrow, this next discussion looked at the impact of expansion at the UK’s busiest airport, and the wider economic growth opportunities for London.

The panel comprised Iain Painting, Partner, Barton Willmore; Brendon Walsh, Chair, Heathrow Strategic Planning Group; Neil Impiazzi, Partnerships Development Manager, SEGRO; Stephen Fry, CEO, Hounslow Chamber of Commerce; Charlotte Twyning, Consents Director, Heathrow Airport; and Anna Mitra, Director, London Communications Agency (Chair).

According to the team at Barton Wilmore, there is extensive evidence around the economic growth opportunity for the UK, but the successful capture of the economic growth is heavily dependent upon the delivery of significant infrastructure, in tandem with the runway.

Roads, rail, residential and commercial development are all required to enable industry to capitalise upon this expanding gateway to the world.

The third runway will result in:

  • 179,000 new jobs created
  • £187 billion in increased economic growth
  • Up to 740,000 flights a year
  • An increase in Heathrow’s rail capacity from 18 to 40 trains per hour

Henry Riley’s involvement 

The commercial sector is still evolving to the way people want to work. And to get the right skillsets, companies will need to invest in these buildings to secure the best resources.

The Heathrow expansion will not just be an opportunity to those companies already in the airport but those working in the commercial, industrial and distribution sectors in the immediate vicinity too, as well as nationally.

Both of these developments present a real opportunity to Henry Riley, and as leaders in our field we will continue to work closely with planners, developers and investors to deliver the work spaces that businesses need and want.

Iain Powell, Partner

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