Focus on urban redevelopment

We are 2 years into one of the most significant changes in our property market. A cursory glance at house prices in London shows that clearly cities were hardest hit in terms of valuations over this period.

By: Rick Martinifa
Published: 9:14 AM, Mar 31, 2022

We are 2 years into one of the most significant changes in our property market. A glance at house prices changes shows that cities were hardest hit in terms of valuations over this period. Median London property prices have risen from 485k in 2020 to 500k so far in 2022, that's disappointing considering we are hitting 7% yoy inflation. Effectively a drop in prices, a large one as well.

It has been spoken about many times, the middle classes upping sticks and moving to larger houses in the country that can accommodate home offices, while the kids are locked down, they have a large back garden to play in.

There has also been I think a large psychological change in the population which has gone largely undiscussed and probably unnoticed. Our cities became more unclean over lockdown. Litter piled up as local authorities cut budgets, shops and offices closed and their surrounding environs became more unkempt as their property became unused. Graffiti, stained pavements and dirt on windows.

While our expectations of cleanliness and hygiene went through the roof our public spaces went the other way. The disconnect between us and our cities has probably become so entrenched that it will take decades to fully undo.

We are truly now in a perilous situation; our most productive and valued areas are reaching a tipping point of possible no return. The challenge for local authorities is how now to turn these places around and as of now I have failed to see any bold ideas that would work.

Firstly, business rates must be abolished for all retail property in cities. If we truly value having retail areas, we can no longer put them under the disadvantage of higher taxation when amazon will run from a warehouse and deliver it by van. If the money is to be recouped, it should be done across the board at corporation tax.

It is dangerous to fall into the superficial thinking that offices can simply be turned into flats and the world can go on happily again. A blend of commercial and residential is required, cut too much commercial and we will reduce the options for business later.

We exist in a world where our most opinionated work independently from a single mac book pro. We need to remember that shared office space is required and that it is the natural state to work for a certain period of our week with others.

We want to promote businesses to take on unused premises as quickly as we can. Short term bridging finance, purchase, redevelop, staff, profit. As quickly as we can. We focus a great deal on help to buy for people, maybe it is time we look at help to buy for business.

It's not to late to save our cities, we just need to want to do it.