Innovation in Property - Understanding the future

26 November 2019

Avison Young recently hosted its ‘Innovation in Property - Understanding the Future’ event to discuss how the world of property is being shaped by global megatrends, technological innovations and the competition for knowledge and talent.

Guest speakers included Dr Nick Axford, Global Head of Research at Avison Young, Prof Liz Towns-Andrews, Director of Research and Enterprise at Huddersfield University, Angela Barnicle, Chief Officer for Asset Management and Regeneration at Leeds City Council and Robin Dobson, Retail Development Director at Hammerson. The panel discussion was chaired by Stuart Howie, Head of Regeneration at Avison Young.

During the presentation, Nick Axford shared some of his thoughts on the transformation that is happening in the retail sector:
“A lot of the transactions of goods are shifting away from physical retail and a lot of the routine interactions and functions that we used to use in offices are changing because data exchange happens virtually.

I still passionately believe that physical retail has a role to play when it’s offering an experience for people and I think offices are moving in the same direction. People will go to the office because they want to be there, not because they have to be there. You can do everything digitally but it’s different to sitting in a room with a group of people and brainstorming or bumping into someone at the water cooler and having an unexpected conversation. It’s out of those conversations that innovation happens.

Co-working spaces have ‘blown apart’ the traditional office structure for large corporates as well as small businesses and solo entrepreneurs. Some big co-working brands have taken over whole buildings for a single occupier and the big companies aren’t necessarily looking for the flexibility. They want the building management skill that the company is offering.

Then there are other people who just want to pay for the day, drink coffee and chat with other Fintech people doing the same thing. All of those services are already bleeding out into the wider mainstream office environment.”

The panel discussion then went on to provide guest speakers with the opportunity to share their insights on how they think changes and innovations are being tackled to unlock opportunities across the region.

Stuart Howie, Avison Young’s Head of Regeneration, said:
“In the past, investors would look at the strength of the occupier and buy anything with a good name. Now they are recognising that investing in a high quality place in a good environment is a really good thing to do rather than just investing in a good tenant.”

Claire Paraskeva, Principal and Managing Director of Avison Young Leeds said:
“It’s entrepreneurs and developers who think innovatively and design their properties around what the occupier wants who will flourish. We’ve seen a sea change from long term leases into serviced offices with communal breakout areas and these are the types of things we want to see more of. Where you allow connection between previously unconnected parties, that’s where innovation will thrive.”

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