Having over 25 years’ experience in Property Development, a background in finance and numerous investments across Private Equity, Technology and Sport, Brendan Flood is the ideal candidate to ask for insight into the property market.
We asked of speculative development, the ‘big box’ market and (of course) the English Football Super League as we reviewed the previous 12 months.
‘Speculative development is always a risk.‘
Like everything else, the mood on Speculative Development has changed over recent years and it’s intriguing to hear how a serial entrepreneur and full time business man viewed these changes:
‘Speculative development is always a risk, and that will never change. The key is to focus on demand within the market and go from there.
There are a number of asset classes within property that have yet to measure the impact of COVID. We’d anticipate – within the wider market – that speculative development will be held back considerably in some sectors because we’re going to be unable to assess the demand for perhaps 12 to 18 months.’
As for new build activity, we must expect there will be a slowdown due to cities being largely deserted and property development within these areas is likely to reduce in the short term.
The ‘Big Box’ market
One of the previous year’s big successes was within the ‘Big Box’ market with, ‘greater impact on the high street infrastructure and rapid growth of e-commerce trading’ being a key focal point for the industry. Brendan recognised,
‘The results of the larger players in the market have been phenomenal and by virtue of that two things have happened. The high streets infrastructure has taken a ‘direct hit’ and in turn the distribution market which e-commerce require to service the demand, has improved significantly. But, still there is pent up demand.’
‘This is where we see good agents become most active as their services are most required as business’ remodel – trying to figure out whether revenue is increasing and what they should do with their property interests.’
Progression in the North but decline of town centres
Keen to hear more about his visions for future development in the North we asked Brendan how he envisaged development across the region progression post pandemic.
‘The north is a creative area when it comes to re-generation. We’re more heavily dependent on construction and development in the North and with that I’d expect some of the new models which might follow COVID, like the working models within residential, taking on a bigger role within the industry’
But, as well all know, the biggest concern for the local authorities are the town centres.
‘Town centres carry so much of the identity of different places and they’re being deserted by both retailers and shoppers. There is going to have to be a national masterplan on how to revive these areas including tax incentives and bringing in more flexible terms for occupiers.’
With this in mind we were keen to hear any thoughts on how there may be changes to the planning process in order to accelerate schemes.
‘Well, this was done successfully with offices being changed to residential where planning for a property was changed to residential quite flexibly within the planning proposal. I think then, within the high street there can be given more opportunity for quick change and an allowance for entrepreneurs to come in and be more speculative to drive the economy.’
UCFB and the Super League
Chairman of UCFB (University Campus of Football Business) and GIS (Global Institute of Sport), we couldn’t let him go without asking about how COVID has impacted on his favourite sport.
As Chairman of a city centre University with facilities across the world, there has been significant changes in the ways of working for the UCFB.
‘This year all universities had to quickly develop a way of teaching students remotely. But, for us this was something we were focused on anyway with international students in campuses across the world. It seems to be a potentially positive step as we see students return on a blended basis with classes online and in person mixed throughout their studying week.’
And, as a previous Director of Burnley football club and life-long fan. We just had to ask about the Super League.
‘The Super League would have been an unmitigated disaster for English Football. Favouring the breakaway six and removing those clubs would have impacted financially on clubs but also emotionally on fans up and down the country.
It was a blessing that fans rebelled and highlighted this would have been an unwelcomed decision.’
And on that note.
That’s a little insight from NR.