Latest News | 11 July 2024

‘Derby has done well – but we feel this is just the beginning’

Derby City Council
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This year’s Derby Property Summit welcomed a top line-up of respected industry voices, who offered national perspectives on the state of the real estate sector – and how Derby measures up to the competition.

The first of those to take the stage was Samantha McClary, editor of the EG (formerly Estates Gazette), which provides data, news and analytics for the UK commercial property market.

Samantha used her presentation to pose a question to the property summit audience, asking whether those involved in real estate are ‘place-makers’ or ‘money-makers’.

She said: “Nowhere else is there a sector that touches all of society, like the built environment, it’s truly something special.

“The residential sector has the land and the resources to make a difference to society and turn a profit. My hope is that the industry can do both.

“So, how can real estate deliver places and changes while also delivering pound signs?

“Well, first, the sector needs to see that place-making is much more important than turning a profit.

“I truly believe that real estate has the power to create change and has the power to ‘build back better’ for places.”

Samantha was followed by Ojay McDonald, chief executive of the Association of Town and City Management.

Ojay, who is considered one of the country’s foremost experts on the high street, outlined three major problems facing our town and city centres.

He told the summit: “We are currently living through an industrial revolution, driven by digital technology – but our town centres don’t cope well with change.

“Then there is fragmented ownership. We have a challenge with our high streets, there are a lot of similar uses in city centres, and this annoys customers, whether it be constant betting shops, charity shops, takeaways and so on.

“The third problem is vulnerability to climate change. Around a third of commercial property in the UK is at risk of flooding, which puts property owners in great danger.”

Ojay then put forward potential solutions to these problems.

He said: “We desperately need a fundamental reform of business rates.

“We live in a digital world. However, we’ve been living in an analogue taxation method, online businesses have had their fun and now they must pay.

“Property owner-led Business Improvement Districts and High Street Trusts could also see resources pooled to make improvements and deliver maximum value to occupiers.”

Finally, Rob Dix and Rob Bence from The Property Hub, a popular podcast aimed at property investors, took the stage to explain why they believe Derby is an “investment hotspot”.

Rob Dix said: “One of the things we’ve been doing since we started the podcast is picking hotspots – everyone wants to know the best places to invest.

“Since 2021 Derby has featured in every one of our hotspot lists.”

The two Robs set out the five “ingredients” they use to decide whether somewhere is a hotspot: the potential for property prices to grow, employment and wages, investment and regeneration, transport links and whether there are big companies already investing.

Rob Bence said: “Derby is in the top 10 for average wages, but the average property price is nowhere near the top 10. So, there’s room for uplift there.

“The type of employment in Derby is also super strong. So, it starts to build a picture that this is becoming a bit of a no-brainer – which is when we started to go public about Derby as a place to invest.”

Rob Dix: “It is the regeneration that is taking place in Derby, which is starting to get us really excited.

“People want to live in city centres and there’s a lot of great work currently going on in Derby – such as the Market Hall, Friar Gate Goods Yard, the Assembly Rooms site and much more.”

Rob Bence said: “Derby has done well recently in terms of its capital growth, but we feel this is just the beginning.

“Derby is starting to get attention. People here in Derby may have been banging the drum for a long time. We’re not from here – but we believe in the area.

“We’ve been banging that drum – and believe Derby will be getting more and more attention as the years go by, with everything that is happening.”

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