My firm are nominated for a prestigious award!

My firm, Innes England, has once again been shortlisted for the Estates Gazette Regional Awards for East Midlands Property Adviser of the Year 2010.

The awards are given each year to find the best Property Adviser and Property Company in eight regions across the UK. If successful, we will go through to the National Property Adviser award category against all other regional winners.

My Managing Director Robert Hartley said: “Acknowledgement from both our clients and partners has led to Innes England making the shortlist every year since the competition was started in 2004, which is an accolade in its own right.”

He added: “We pride ourselves in delivering excellent client service and it is testament to the hard work of the team that we are once again nominated. We are up against regional and national agents but I think our unique position of being located in Nottingham, Leicester and Derby provides us with unrivalled local market knowledge to benefit our clients and give us the edge. We were delighted to take the award home in 2008 and 2009, after fending off competition from agents throughout the Midlands, so the 2010 title would be a celebrated hat-trick.”

The announcement follows the recent win where we picked up Most Active Agent in the Estates Gazette Interactive 2009 Deals competition. We also walked away with the overall title as well as the number one position in both the Office and Industrial/Distribution categories. To win the award and to go on to be nominated for Property Adviser of the Year, we completed hundreds of deals during 2009 in all categories and size bands. Highlights included securing the region’s largest office pre-letting to Speedo at NG2 in Nottingham for their new global headquarters, the largest office letting of 93,000 sq ft to Derby College on Pride Park and the sale of Leicester Southgates bus station enabling Arriva’s relocation.

We are really proud of this award, but need as much help as we can get in 2010! We would dearly love to win the hat-trick!

Voting is now open here, and will be open until Friday 23 April.

The long term cost of Education

I act in a professional capacity for a number of educational establishments – from schools through the Further Education Colleges and Universities.

Castle College Nottingham

Nottingham has over 55,000 students studying at the two Universities. This ignores the students at the the three FE colleges. You can see that the student population are a significant proportion of Nottingham’s people. The retention rate for Graduates is estimated at 29.9%

The local Colleges have worked hard on vocational studies – and I have seen some really excellent facilities developed in the last few years.

But the debacle over funding in the LSC last year has hit the sector hard. With over 200 schemes ready to go the brakes were applied and only a handful of schemes approved. Coincidentally those given approval were in Labour constituencies?

The Association of Colleges have suggested that next year there will be a 16% cut in funding.

According to the AOC,

The cuts have serious consequences for the ability of Colleges to respond to local demand, to offer high quality courses and to contribute most effectively to the economic recovery. Colleges understand how tough public finances are, but do not want to lose high quality courses that are essential to the economy and make a great deal of difference to people in their local communities.

We should remember that:

Colleges educate and train 3 million people every year
737,000 are aged 16-18, the rest are aged 19 and over
Colleges provide 39% of entrants to higher education
172,000 students study higher education in a College
Almost half of all vocational qualifications are awarded via Colleges

I think it is short-sighted to cut College funding in the short term. The unemployment levels are likely to rise further with public sector cuts. The best way of helping many of those back into employment is re-training. And Colleges are best placed to do this. Now is not the time to be cutting expenditure – but increasing it!

The problem is that further and higher education don’t attract the same emotional response as schools – so aren’t seen as vote winners. But we stop funding them at our long term cost. Locally education plays a massive part in the future prosperity of Nottingham.

By Tim Garratt Posted in Nottingham Tagged Colleges, Graduates, public sector cuts, students, University

Sustainability in buildings – pricing and demand

I was back at Nottingham Trent University last week – in the newly opened Business Centre in the Newton Building. I blogged about our look around earlier in the year.

Castle College - low carbon building

The subject area was whether there is any difference in the value of sustainable buildings against non-sustainable buildings!

Of course the biggest issue was the definition of a sustainable building – there are so many standards and benchmarks that a consistent measure is difficult to establish. IPD have set out a new index – IPSI, but this quite new and has really no significant data to help.

The current reality is that in the property industry no-one pays more rent for sustainable buildings. As rent and capital value are inexorably linked, whether or not a building is sustainable is not yet affecting property value. But this might change. As energy prices increase occupiers are likely to look at costs carefully. The introduction of Energy Performance Certificates might also start to impact on the market.

Sustainability is about a mix of energy efficiency, climate control, waste, water management, adaptability and pollution. It is now suggested that sustainability has three pillars – social, economic and environment. Ensuring that each of these is protected or improved equals a sustainable building.

I was interested to learn that some research had suggested that occupiers look at a menu before choosing a building, the order was:

1. Location
2. Availability
3. Build quality
4. Running costs
5. Architecture
6. Sustainability

My view is that this reflects the real commercial market. Price will also be a factor! You can debate the order, but it was interesting to see where sustainability featured.

The other issue is that we concentrate on new buildings. Breeam assessments in the UK can be obtained for new buildings – but are not compulsory. They are really a marketing tool – and a measure of a buildings position in the spectrum of sustainable construction. But the building stock in the UK comprises many old buildings and sometimes we overlook them. They can be sustainable when the alternative is demolition and new building (with the associated energy required). We have lots of under-itilised space in the UK – and as I blogged a couple of days ago – we are now starting to take these buildings apart to avoid empty rates.

We really do need to stop and consider what we are doing with our buildings. We need a clear position statement on climate change and very clear labelling of some of the technologies involved – some of the payback period information is just unhelpful and confusing. The University of East Anglia haven’t helped either – fudging the figures.

Long life – loose fit is the buzzword for buildings moving forward. Sustainable and flexible. If we get this half-right we will be doing well!

UPDATE 31.3.10

This morning there is news on the BBC that the The Commons Science and Technology Committee have decided that the data used at UEA was not flawed. If you read the report they have not exactly cleared the matter up! For once, could someone give a straight answer?

Nottingham & Krasnodar – lots in common?

I was delighted to be part of a select group of people present when Nottingham signed a Partnership Agreement with the city of Krasnodar at MIPIM this year.

Dinner in Cannes with Krasnodar guests

A lot of people have asked me about the event and how it went. I must confess that I thought it would be quite difficult – especially I had never had a conversation through an interpreter before. It does take a reasonable amount of concentration – but the two translators / interpreters were excellent!

The early part of the evening and meal was a little stilted – but as the evening wore on (and the toasts grew more frequent) it got easier.

The thing that really became apparent was the similarities in our cultures. I think we have a culture (especially in business) where we don’t take ourselves too seriously. There was a fair amount of teasing and joking going on – which was being duly translated to the guests. They were highly amused – and it wasn’t long before they too joined in.

I got the impression that, despite the relative seniority of the guests, they too didn’t take things too seriously either. They were extremely polite and it was clear that they valued the tie-up with Nottingham. There were a number of toasts which made reference to friendship and it was clearly quite sincere. The friendship aspect seemed to be a significant element of their culture – reference was made to the standing of a person being judged by the number of friends he / she had.

Culturally I thought we would be somewhat opposed (but I don’t know why). We weren’t. It’s funny how you have pre-conceived ideas and, possibly, prejudices. You can very easily be proved wrong. Too many Bond films for me I suspect!

We were invited to go to Krasnodar as their guests – it is something I would consider – especially as they were such good company at dinner. It was a highly enjoyable event. I am also fascinated by some of the architecture – one of the gifts I came away from the dinner with was a book showing some of the trophy buildings in Krasnodar. Some of them look stunning.

UPDATE 2 April 2010

I heard today from Marina Astapova – our translator on the Yacht. It was quiet at their office today. She is trying her best to impart some Russian on to me. Today was a proverb – “Rabota ne volk, v les ne ubezhit”. Word to word translation is “Work is not like wolf that can escape any moment”. I think that this means that we can never get away from our work!

I think there may be a trip out to Krasnodar before the end of the summer – I might need to learn a bit more Russian!

Budget 2010 – helping commercial property – no!

I was asked this week if I had a view on the Budget for 2010 which was supposed to be about securing recovery.

Empty property attracting Rates?

Property is supposed to be a good barometer for the wider economy.

Last year, the Chancellor gave the commercial property industry the break it was asking for on empty property rates relief by granting a one year holiday for properties with a rateable value of less than £18,000. The 2010 Budget sees an extension for a further year.

In addition, small businesses benefiting from the rate relief taper (rateable values up to £12,000) will receive significant reductions. It is estimated that over half a million businesses across England will benefit, many by well over £1,000. Around three quarters of all small business units, two thirds of smaller shops and over half of offices and smaller industrial premises will qualify if occupied by an eligible business.

This may sound like a financial benefit but what effect is it having on the properties? At the lower end of the market it is a welcome relief. But at the larger end it is doing nothing. By the very nature of the market the number of large transactions in any one year are limited. In a provincial city, like Nottingham, the annual take up of space can often be skewed by a large deal (or two).

Supply is critical, but we are starting to see creative vandalism – owners taking many perfectly good properties out of use – because of the charges. This often means removing elements which will render them useless.

The suggestion (by Mandelson) that vacant property tax encourages landlords to ensure their property is available to let is nothing short of insulting. There are few of our client landlords who are ‘waiting’ for the market to return to let property. We will have taken perfectly good buildings away shortly – with little ability to replace them until the good times return – and this could be years. In the meantime get used to seeing tooth-gaps in our urban landscape.

Unfortunately, despite pledging to the contrary, the Tories have said the empty property rates will remain. This is bad for property generally – and does nothing for regeneration.

Update 30th March – the article appeared here.

By Tim Garratt Posted in Business, Nottingham Tagged Budget 2010, Empty Property Relief, Mandelson, Non-Domestic Rates

Cool for cats…

I think it’s fair to say that music plays quite a big part in my life and has done so for a long time!

From the days when I listened to Radio City in Liverpool when I should have been revising for my ‘O’ levels (I blame them for the subsequent results!) to the live bands I have subsequently seen. The CD collection takes up one wall of our dining room! The itunes collection totals around 13,500 tracks – and that is after I thinned it out. I also have a pile of LP’s in the garage!

There are some people / bands who I would travel (almost) anywhere to see. Bowie is one – but not sure he will tour again? I went to New York to see The Killers at MSG in January 2009. But one band who I have seen countless times appeared on the TV this week – honoured by the PRS with a Heritage award. Squeeze I can listen to anytime – lyrically they are just brilliant! Their music reminds me of a great era in music (think Ian Dury, Boomtown Rats, Blondie et al)

A special plaque will be erected in South East London where the original group Chris Difford, Glenn Tilbrook, Jools Holland, Harry Kakoulli and Paul Gunn first performed, at the Greenwich Dance Hall in 1975. I think I first saw them in 1979.

I have even seen Glenn Tilbrook play on the Nottingham Tram – brilliant! The group have played on the beach at Cannes a few times at MIPIM.

I am looking forward to seeing them at the Isle of Wight festival in June – but also in November in Nottingham – when they tour.

Some bands just stand the test of time. Like the Stranglers I saw last month (blog here) Squeeze are still as good today as they were 30 years ago.

As the saying goes – “form is temporary – talent is permanent”

And instead of ‘O’ level boring subjects I learned all the words from Squeeze – “The Indians sent signals from the rocks above the pass, the cowboys take their position in the bushes and the grass…” I still know them today!


Unbelievably The Members are to play at the Isle of Wight this year; announced today. Now I do remember seeing them at the Sandpiper Music Machine in the The Lace Market Nottingham in 1980 (?). Roll on the Sound of the Suburbs and Offshore Banking Business!

Cameras – Ricoh GRII R.I.P.

I had a sad (and slightly frustrating) day earlier this week. I went to the opening of the Robin Hood exhibition on Monday evening and, as always, had my trusty camera on hand. I took a dozen or so photos. Unfortunately when I got home and tried to download them – they were not there!

My faithful Ricoh GRII meets its end...

I have used a Ricoh GRII camera for around 3 years. It was an addition to my camera armoury – my main camera is a Canon 40D (with a clutch of lenses). The latter is superb and can turn in some brilliant images.

But the Ricoh tends to be my favoured weapon of choice. It is small and discrete. It is virtually bomb-proof. It has lots of user controls – but can be used as a point and shoot. The real benefit though is the quality of the images – which are just superb.

In the last three years I have lost count of how many people have asked me about an image and the camera used. They are often surprised to see this little black inconspicuous machine. My mate John Lyle blogged about it when we were in the USA – and he promptly came home and bought one!

But yesterday I had to lay it to rest. Despite downloading a firmware upgrade and changing the SD card – it has decided to only ‘write’ some images! This is not a lot of use to me – especially as I use it for images for work – and rely on them!

The amazing thing is that the image count is 5,734! So I don’t think it really owes me anything. It has been all over the world with me – and as you can see still looks as good today as it did when it came out of the box.

I was wondering quite what to replace it with and was very tempted by the Olympus Pen. I have read good reports. The natural choice might have been the Canon Powershot G11 – which also gets great reviews and would sit well with my SLR. But after a few minutes I decided that the Ricoh has been so good that I would replace it with the same camera again – just updated. So the GRIII is on its way. It has the same fixed lens (28mm equivalent) but the pixel count is up slightly to 10 megapixels. The lens has also been upgraded – so I am expecting great things!

I actually have the original GR camera – which used something called ‘film’… remember that?

MIPIM 2010: my overall impression

I have been back in the UK for a few days now – and my 6th MIPIM is over. I have had a chance now to reflect on the show and whether it was a success.

It is always a show seized upon by the press as being something of a ‘jolly’. We try our best to defend it as a business show where we work hard. But the images of us on luxury Yachts sipping some form of alcohol in the warm sunshine of Cannes makes it difficult to defend.

It is incredibly hard work though – most days start at around 8.30 and go on into the early hours. Breakfast, lunch and dinner simply punctuate the rounds of meetings and presentations. My feet still ache! I haven’t read through my notes. I have a pile of business cards to put in my address book.

The memorable features of this years show for me:

1. The Krasnodar dinner and signing
2. The launch of Nottingham Southside
3. My Robin Hood presentation

But we are always asked what tangible jobs we get out of it. It is wrong to say that we won jobs whilst we were there. We are there to network and raise the profile of Nottingham and of our own firm.

I have said before that if only 5% of marketing is successful you wouldn’t bother with the other 95%. The difficulty is you never actually know which 5% works! MIPIM puts lots of the 5% people in the same place at the same time – so your potential hit rate is higher.

But interestingly this year I have come away with three positive things (I can’t divulge the exact details for obvious reasons)…

1. A very significant management opportunity;
2. A requirement for a retailer who wants to open an outlet in Nottingham;
3. An opportunity to be part of a team who have won a bid on a major scheme in Nottingham – they need professional advice.

In addition I have made a number of new contacts – who I will keep in touch with.

We had great profile whilst at MIPIM as I blogged about a couple of days ago.

It’s not just about me and my firm – it’s also about Nottingham too. The benefits to the City are perhaps even less tangible, but it will be interesting to get some feedback from the other delegates over the next few weeks.

It was interesting to see the PR from MIPIM themselves who suggested,

With 17,300 attendees from 81 countries and 1,720 exhibiting companies, attendance figures for MIPIM 2010 were comparable with those of 2009; and this stabilisation was also reflected in the mood among delegates attending the event. Markets are turning the corner and the property sector is making ready for the future.

All in all I think this was one of the best MIPIM shows I have been to. And it was hard work – honest!

Robin Hood is back in Nottingham!

Last night I went to the special opening event at Nottingham Castle of the exhibition of Robin Hood film props and costumes.

There were around 100 people gathered, including Robin himself – and the baddy The Sheriff of Nottingham! Robin was banished to the outside whilst the Sheriff welcomed his guests! I stood with my mate John Lyle – both of us making notes for our respective blogs!

We were introduced to a number of people – including the set decorator from the film Sonja Klaus. Everyone was genuinely excited about the exhibition which will run until the end of September – at both Nottingham Castle – but also in Sherwood Forest! There are some of the actual costumes and artefacts from the film – loaned courtesy of Universal and made into a small set.

But I was really interested in the comments made by Jennifer Spencer from Experience Nottinghamshire.

In essence the message from Jennifer was:

1. Nottingham and Nottinghamshire must maximise the opportunities around the launch of the movie
2. We need to aim to have 10% more overnight visitors in 2010 (and a 5% increase in day visitors)
3. Tourism is worth £1.4bn to us! We have 35 million visitors each year
4. A 10% increase in visitors would add £46m to the local economy

But Jennifer also suggested some really interesting facts:

1 in 5 tourists make a visit to a city as a direct result of a film
Visitors are more likely to visit the place portrayed in the film – than the filming location
Hollywood films with their global reach and larger audiences are more likely to have an impact
Films with a strong emotional resonance or where a particular setting plays a key role are particularly effective at drawing tourism

This really is Nottingham’s opportunity to capitalise on Robin Hood. We must do so – and not lose it again. I said in Cannes last week that we seemed reticent sometimes to use the brand – but we shouldn’t be. In difficult times (and I suspect there are more ahead) these sort of opportunities won’t come a long every day! And this is an opportunity.

Nottingham has hosted a number of journalists in the last few weeks – including from France and the USA – each have been impressed with the City. So the word will have started to spread.

But back to Jennifer Spencer – she mentioned that she had been at a Visit England strategy meeting last week – the guest speaker was Joanna Lumley. The message was one of having confidence in our tourism offer – but also looking at the offer through the eyes of a tourist. Some of what we have we take for granted.

We need to shout about we do have – but shout louder about what we don’t – until we get it!

Robin Hood world class visitor attraction here we come…

3D Cinema – amazing

After a week in Cannes, the film premiere capital of the world it seemed quite appropriate for a Sunday to go to the movies!

The excellent Johnny Depp as the Mad Hatter

I never seem to get the time to see films – and have quite a distinct taste / favourite genre! Die Hard, Bond and Bourne would feature fairly high up in my top ten. In recent times Bourne has probably got the top spot (as an aside the very best movie sound track is Extreme Ways by Moby – used at the end of all three Bourne movies).

With rumours of a delay to the Bourne 4 movie – I thought I had better not wait any longer…

I missed Avatar – which everyone said was superb in 3D. So when Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland was on this was the chance! I was wondering if it might be a kiddy film – but reassuringly it was a ‘PG’.

The film is amazing.

Johnny Depp is superb and the directing by Tim Burton is just brilliant. As for the 3D effects they are startling. It is partly the fantasy setting that suits this medium. I think I last saw 3D in Disney in 1994 – in Honey I Shrunk the Kids! Other stars of the show are Helena Bonham-Carter (the wicked Red Queen), and Matt Lucas (as Tweedledum and Tweedledee). The voices of Stephen Fry, Alan Rickman, Barbara Windsor & Timothy Small round the star-studded cast off.

I can’t really remember ever reading the book. The story has some little modern twists – but the overall special effects are just fantastic. I couldn’t help but wonder what Lewis Carroll would have thought. I think he would be blown away!

The best quote, “Sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast”.

The film has been at the No.1 spot in the US for 3 weeks and has taken $265m.

My only complaint? It was £9.70 a ticket! I didn’t even get to keep the silly glasses…

By Tim Garratt Posted in MIPIM2013, Nottingham Tagged Alice in Wonderland, Bourne, , Die Hard, James Bond, Johhny Depp, Showcase Cinema, Tim Burton