March 28, 2017
Cannes-based international real estate fair MIPIM has always been a magnet for cities, determined to extoll their virtues to investors, developers and occupiers, but this year the UK was in charm overdrive. Buoyed no doubt in part by the presence of the UK government’s Department of International Trade (DIT), waving its ‘open for business’ flag for UK PLC, many of the towns and cities that would normally have ploughed their own furrow, instead came together to leverage critical mass. So Bradford and Leeds combined, conurbations across the central belt conjoined on a Midlands pavilion, and so on. Whether it was panic or confidence, the net result was an unusually prominent UK presence, up a quarter on last year. Of course the UK is just one nationality among the 24,200 real estate and city professionals from 100 countries who come together in Cannes every March.
March 22, 2017
The market for smart cities technology and related infrastructure used in the world’s most advanced urban areas could expand to $1.6 trillion by 2020, but major cities around the world are showing signs of fragility claims a report from Bank of America Merrill Lynch. The study, 21st Century Cities: Global Smart Cities Primer Picks, claims that the market for smart city technology such as 5G telecoms networks, artificial intelligence, building automation, ‘cleantech’, cybersecurity, self-driving vehicles, the Internet of Things, sensors, surveillance and so on is already worth around $1 trillion. The report ranks Singapore (pictured), London, New York, Paris and Tokyo as the world’s smartest cities. Around 55 percent of the world’s population now lives in cities and account for around 85 percent of GDP.
March 14, 2017
The Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce (RSA) has published the final report from its Inclusive Growth Commission. The report sets out a series of recommendations which it claims will address the lack of an inclusive approach to the economy. In the context of Brexit, this is one of the underlying drivers of dissatisfaction with the way the UK is run by central and local government, the report claims, and hence a factor in the Brexit vote. Its forward looking proposals include a greater commitment to lifelong learning, a greater focus on place to ensure the UK’s cities and regions get a greater stake in the national economy. As well as the main report, its conclusions and proposals are discussed in a podcast.
March 14, 2017
City infrastructure plays a key role when multinationals decide where to establish locations abroad and send expatriate workers, claims a new report. Mercer’s 19th annual Quality of Living survey now includes a supplementary question on city infrastructure, as easy access to transportation, reliable electricity, and drinkable water are all important considerations when determining hardship allowances based on differences between a given assignee’s home and host locations. Western European cities hold most of the top ten places in the city infrastructure ranking, with Frankfurt and Munich jointly ranking 2nd worldwide, followed by Copenhagen (4) and Dusseldorf (5). London is in 6th place, and Hamburg and Zurich both rank 9th. However, in terms of quality of living which is ranked separately, Vienna (pictured) occupies first place for overall quality of living for the 8th year running, and despite increased political and financial volatility in Europe, many of its cities offer the world’s highest quality of living and remain attractive destinations for expanding business operations and sending expatriates on assignment. In the UK, London is favoured for its overall quality of living and for its city infrastructure.
March 7, 2017
London firms’ optimism has rebounded since a poll taken just after the EU Referendum, according to the latest CBI/CBRE London Business Survey; as its the most recent data reveals that a fifth of companies (19 percent) feel more positive about the economy over the next six months, compared to 4 percent in the last Survey. Firms are also more optimistic about their own businesses over the next half year, with over a quarter (26 percent) feeling positive (compared to 8 percent in the last Survey). Over eight in ten (84 percent) of London’s companies see Crossrail 2 as being central to the capital’s successful expansion. Meanwhile, a similar number of firms (80 percent) think sticking to the Government’s current timetables for building Heathrow’s third runway is vital to London’s attractiveness as a place to invest. As the city continues to expand eastwards, businesses recognise the importance of developing the right infrastructure to support growth in the area, especially in the Docklands. Four fifths of firms (84 percent) think that river crossings in East London are essential for boosting the city’s growth.
March 3, 2017
Demand for construction workers in London looks set to grow due to the completion of Crossrail and the extension of the Northern Line alongside other infrastructure projects. But a new analysis reveals the Capital is struggling to attract and train the workforce needed; with London and the South East having a shortfall of 60,000 people in the construction industry. This is according to a first of its kind analysis of the role of migration on London’s economy by London First and PwC. ‘Facing Facts: the impact of migrants on London, its workforce and economy’ argues that London’s growing workforce is significantly contributing to economic growth and helping to create more jobs in the capital. The report, which draws on a comprehensive range of information, including detailed ONS Labour Force Survey data shows how London’s total workforce has grown from 4.3 million people in 2005 to just under 5.2 million, made up of people from around the UK, the EU and the rest of the world.
March 2, 2017
In the two years running up to the Brexit vote, London vied with New York and Hong Kong for the title of most expensive world city to accommodate employees and last year it was crowned the most expensive world class city for international businesses to rent office and living space for their employees. Now Brexit’s impact has made the UK look much better value on a world stage as the devaluation of sterling means it now ranks closer to Paris and Tokyo, leaving New York and Hong Kong in a league of their own with much higher accommodation costs. It now costs an average of US$88,800 per person to rent office and housing space in London, well below the price tag of June 2014 of US$124,500, according to the latest Savills Live-Work Index which measures annual accommodation costs per worker in leading world cities. By this measure, London is now 10 per cent cheaper in these terms than it was in December 2008.
February 14, 2017
The more recent employment figures for London suggest that until the terms of Brexit are known and put in motion, the jobs market will remain cautious. This is according to the latest Morgan McKinley London Employment Monitor which found that despite an 81 percent increase in jobs available and an 83 percent increase in professionals seeking jobs; compared to a 115 percent increase in jobs this time last year, the 2017 spike was muted in comparison. The 83 percent increase in job seekers month-on-month is coupled with a 29 percent decrease, year-on-year. Contributing to the decrease is the trickling off of non-British EU nationals working in the City, who comprise up to 10 percent of its workforce. In a post-Brexit survey of professionals conducted by Morgan McKinley, these individuals reported either moving abroad, or considering leaving London because of Brexit.
February 9, 2017
Researchers at the University of Birmingham have developed a way of investigating or diagnosing the challenges facing their home city that could be used to help improve the lives of city dwellers around the world. And the blueprint they are working with could help city policy makers and other countries to take more effective actions to boost the quality of life for residents by providing better outcomes. Project leaders are already looking at how the work might be applied in countries like India, Brazil and South Africa. The first part of the Urban Living Birmingham pilot project used a wide range of data and evidence used by city leaders to inform policy combined with an analysis of 248 datasets – identifying the challenges facing Birmingham.
February 3, 2017
Developers Knight Dragon have unveiled the details of a landmark £1 billion project as part of the Greenwich Peninsula regeneration in East London. Designed by architect and engineering firm Santiago Calatrava, the Peninsula Place development marks the latest shift in London’s shift eastwards. The scheme will total 1.4 million sq ft including a new tube and bus station, theatre, cinema and performance venue, bars, shops and a wellbeing hub. Above this will rise three office towers, apartments and hotels, all connected to the Thames by a new land bridge. The developers claim that Greenwich Peninsula is London’s largest single regeneration project. Over the coming years, the £8.4 billion transformation of the Peninsula will provide 15,720 new homes in seven new neighbourhoods: home to central London’s first major film studio, a new design district, schools, offices, health services and public spaces.
February 3, 2017
Commercial construction activity in the UK for the 12 months to the end of 2016 fell to £16.7 billion, down 14.1 percent on the previous quarter, according to JLL and Glenigan’s Q4 2016 UK Commercial Construction Activity Index. In London, activity declined in a quarterly comparison but increased 2.7 percent compared to the same period a year ago. Construction started at 22 Bishopsgate in London City which will provide a total of 1.3 million sq ft of office space, and is scheduled to complete in 2019. The 70,000 sq ft office refurbishment of 33 Gutter Lane also commenced in Q4 with completion scheduled for the second half of the year. Elsewhere it was a mixed picture across the regions with commercial construction activity increasing in the North East, South West and Wales, albeit from a relatively low base; but activity was more subdued in other regions, particularly in Yorkshire and the Humber were the level of construction activity fell 22.0 percent y-o-y.
January 31, 2017
London continues to be the region with the highest number of advertised vacancies (248,605) and the highest average salaries (£38,449), but its previously unassailable supremacy may soon be challenged, a new survey suggests. According to the latest UK Job Market Report from Adzuna real-time jobs data average salaries in the capital have fallen more (-3.9 percent) than any other region in the UK in the past year as salary growth in the rest of the UK catches up at a more consistent rate. This also represents a wider shift in the jobs market as the Government creates a solid post-Brexit UK economy that drives growth across the whole country. It is likely growing trends such as companies relocating their headquarters to cities outside the capital such as Manchester will continue as well as reinvestments into northern powerhouses to revitalise former struggling areas and industries. With competition for jobs per jobseeker per vacancy rising from 0.43 to 0.45 in January, jobseekers in the capital may have two hurdles ahead in the shape of a more competitive job market and pedestrian salary growth.