Property must disrupt to evolve

propskiDisruption is an important part of the evolution of the property industry and gives choice to the people who want to live and work in London, an audience heard at Question Time Propski yesterday.

Nick Cuff, land director of Pocket Living, which develops compact one-bedroom flats for middle-income-earners in the capital, said disruption was a “great place to be” and has given rise to valuable businesses.

“If we always followed planning regulations to the letter of the law then you wouldn’t have Pocket, you wouldn’t have the private rented sector and you wouldn’t have interesting businesses like The Collective. We are there to fill a need that is not being met because of the rules that are being set out.”

“We place a quarter of a million Londoners into home ownership and that is key to what the city needs. If we weren’t disrupting then people wouldn’t have a choice and London would lose its skilled labour.”

Cuff, who used to work as a planning executive at Wandsworth Council, seeing through the regeneration of Battersea Power Station and Nine Elms, was speaking to industry representatives during the annual property networking event in the French Alpine resort of Tignes.

When asked to “right swipe” to agree or “left swipe” to disagree with the statement that knowledge of how things have always been done can be a handicap, he replied that “being different is important”. He referred to his background in politics, and also the non-traditional background of Pocket chief executive Marc Vlessing, who used to work in the film industry, as integral to seeing the inefficiencies that exist in real estate.

Also speaking on the panel, Tom Redmayne, UK business development director at connectivity certification company Wiredscore, said the role of the property surveyor would shift dramatically over the next five years, and see them play a greater consultancy role.

“When I worked at Cushman & Wakefield, my big client was Derwent London. They said to me ‘we’ll do the deals, but we need you to be our eyes and ears for what’s going on in the wider market’, and I think that is going to happen much more,” he said.

“I would urge property graduates to open their eyes and realise that it’s their job to look at what’s happening around the world. Understanding the trends that were coming out of Massachusetts Institute of Technology and (global architecture firm) NBBJ made me better at my job and better at advising clients.”

Predicting future trends, Redmayne said that 5G would be a major part of the infrastructure narrative this year, enabling internet users to download a film in seven seconds that would usually take seven minutes.

However, he said developers would have to think about putting the right level of infrastructure into their buildings to enable the use of 5G, which does not travel through walls and glass as well as 4G due its high frequency. 

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