Around 80 Thames Valley property professionals heard of the stark changes in the industry over several decades, when UK Property Forums held its Figgy Pudding Christmas lunch.

Speaker for the December 3 event at the Leander Club in Henley was Keith Wise, director at Campbell Gordon who won the Outstanding Contribution award at the Thames Valley Property Awards in May.

Addressing the Blandy & Blandy and Rider Levett Bucknall – sponsored event, Mr Wise pointed to both residential and office markets where the trends had changed dramatically.

He said: “When I joined Legal & General in 1983, the funds were congratulating themselves on selling off their residential portfolios. Now they are piling back in

“In the office sector we’ve seen the rise of the likes of WeWork and the co-working concept.

“Even if the co-working concept fizzles out, we can’t go back to the old days of ‘sign your 25-year lease here and we’ll see you in five years’ time to talk about putting your rent up’.

“Occupiers demand high standards in order to help recruit and maintain high quality staff.

“Staff are concerned about things like wellness, amenity and environment.  And I also think that those issues are starting to permeate the industrial and logistics sector too.

“The property industry is resilient and inventive but we need to have our ear to the ground and not be taken by surprise.”

Mr Wise said the concentration on fundamentals such as infrastructure is behind much of the area’s success. Reading, he argues, was dealt a good hand and has played it well.

He described the volatility of the dotcom era and said the market in 2019 looks likely to be a low key one.

He told guests: “Despite all the political and economic uncertainty last year, Reading had its best year for 10 years. We were on track to have an average year, this year, but Q4 has been quiet.

“It’s usually the busiest quarter in the year but the timing of the election has probably had a dampening effect.

“This year Reading’s take up of offices is likely to be between 350,000 sq ft  and 400,000 sq ft.”

He sees housing shortages and the risk of Heathrow expansion not going ahead as threats to the area but he added: “Otherwise I think the Thames Valley is in very good shape.”

Ilan Goldsmith, European director for Catalyst Capital, which is developing Gardiner Place in Henley, a rare mix of retail and residential, highlighted the success achieved by attracting Harrods to open its first H Café in the scheme which completes next year.

Entertainment at the lunch was provided by none other than former property lawyer and Thames Tap consultant Hugh Blaza, alongside Johnny Hinks, famed as Oxford’s premier street musician. UK Property Forum managing director Matthew Battle helped lead the 12 days of Christmas finale.

The next UK Prop Social event will be Reading Social on January 7.

* Images:

Top (l-r): Keith Wise, Karen Jones from Blandy & Blandy, Mike Righton from Rider Levett Bucknall and Matthew Battle.

Below (l-r): Johnny Hinks and Hugh Blaza.

© Thames Valley Property No 190 (