Keith Hardman, Head of Cushman & Wakefield’s Leeds office gives his thoughts on the year ahead:
“The economic impact of COVID-19 and Brexit (deal or no deal) make for an uncertain 2021.
“It’s likely that the full weight of Government both nationally and locally will continue to focus on economic recovery and efforts to mitigate impacts, particularly unemployment. The Chancellor’s spending review in November gave some clear pointers to investment priorities with a new economic campus and UK infrastructure bank to be based in the North of England and £50 billion + committed to infrastructure improvements. There will be a push to commit investment in earnest to create tangible evidence of the Government’s pledge to deliver on the levelling up agenda.
“Other predictions for the year ahead include:
- Additional measures and Government interventions over and above existing funding pledges and changes to the planning system, to address the decline of town centres, which has been turbo charged by the pandemic.
- Further reductions in retail values and high street occupier failures will tip the scales of viability positively in favour of alternative uses and bring into sharp focus the importance of place and the need to take a holistic approach to the survival of town centres. Asset repurposing will grow apace in consequence.
- The long overdue introduction of a sales tax to replace Business Rates applied to the high street. The failings of the current system and how it operates was spotlighted again by the voluntary return of Business Rate Relief by the large supermarket operators at the end of 2020.
- Environmental matters and the drive for carbon neutrality will become increasingly prevalent in occupier and investor decision making and selection criteria.
- Office take-up will bounce back over 2021. This is despite the adjustment employers will make to new ways of flexible working and how they use office space. Underpinning the upturn in demand is the importance businesses place on the office ecosystem for social, collaborative, wellbeing and creative purposes.”