NTU – more talent on show

You may be having a sense of deja-vu if you drop by here often. I have blogged a couple of times lately when I have been at Nottingham Trent University.


Last night it was the Annual Friends of Architecture, Design and the Built Environment dinner in the amazing Newton Building. I am a friend of the University apparently. I’m certainly an Alumni – although that seems like a very long time ago!

The dinner was great fun – meeting lots of new people. There was even some ‘KT’ (knowledge transfer!) going on. One of the lecturers was really keen to understand how we are appraising properties in a rising market.

Part of the evening gives the guests a chance to look around the end of the year student shows. And this is where you get to admire the work done by final year students. It’s corny – but there are some very talented people. I love looking at the architectural drawings and designs – even if some are fanciful. Perhaps some of the ‘fashion’ is not really what I’d wear in the office (we have only just started to lose the ties!).

But the part I really enjoyed this year was the furniture design. There are some really beautiful pieces. In some cases it is art rather than furniture.

My favourite piece was done by Charlie Adams and is shown in the picture. It is a simple desk – the workmanship was ‘Audi’ standard and the lines and proportions just perfect. It was designed for the House range of John Lewis. I thought it was the star of the show!

A technology update…

There’s a couple of updates today on my digital life!

Taken on SamsungS5 - impressive detail - look at the East Midlands Airport control tower on the horizon!

Taken on SamsungS5 – impressive detail – look at the East Midlands Airport control tower on the horizon!

I’ve had a Samsung S5 for the last month – and as promised a brief update… I’m not a huge fan.

Without doubt the camera is better and unquestionably the battery is heaps better than the iPhone. I get home and still have a third power reining having not charged the phone at all in the day. My iPhone would be charged in the car and at my desk! And would still struggle to live through the evening.

But there the good stops. The screen is bigger! But I’m not sure it is much better than the iPhone (although some of the animations are quite cool!). The biggest problem I have is with the operating system. It is a bit notch pitch. It doesn’t fit neatly together. My iPhone synchronised easily with all of my mac gear. The Samsung doesn’t. I miss the iPhoto stream the most!

The joy of Apple is that you don’t have to think. It just does. The Samsung does – but you have to tell it…

I really do hope that the Iphone6 is launched in September – normal service will resume! So long as they sort the battery!

My other attempt at the start of the year was to go as paperless as I could. I was using ‘Day One’ as a notebook. I like it – but it isn’t terribly convenient and I can’t scribble or sketch. I didn’t realises just how much I do! So I’m back to my trusty Leuchtturm1907 notebook. However, I have one with ‘whitelines‘ technology. So I can scribble, sketch and doodle – take a picture on the phone and the ‘image’ appears in dropbox or on Evernote.

It looks like I might have to write a bit neater!!

By Tim Garratt Posted in Grumpy Old Man! Tagged iphone6, Leuchtturm1907, peperless office, Samsungs5, Technology, whitelines link

Nottingham and Milan…

Nottingham artist and sculptor Wolfgang Buttress has had his design selected for the UK pavilion at the Milan 2015 Expo.

He is based out in Lady Bay south of the City and works in public art. Some of his work can be seen here.

I think this is a great concept and shows again Talented Nottingham!

The design notes: As people enter the UK pavilion they will be greeted by an orchard of British fruit trees. Apples and pears are particularly significant to the UK national identity and collective consciousness. The queuing area is sited within this courtyard orchard, evocative of an English walled-garden. Gabions filled with rejected/broken/reused bricks reinforce this suggestion. Visitors can view a live video feed from a real beehive integrated into a sculptural cor ten wall before they enter the meadow above.

By Tim Garratt Posted in Business, Nottingham Tagged Expo, Milan 2015, tented Nottingham, Thomas hatherwick, Wolfgang Buttress

Global domination

Last week I was asked if I was trying to dominate the world – my name had been spotted by one of my neighbours on a sale board in Buxton!


I have written an article for my professional magazine ‘Modus’ on the reach and power of social media – like the wee blog you are reading. And twitter.

You might remember I managed to get a picture published in the Daily Mirror after I had taken a picture in a toilet on a train. Although on face value this sounds incredibly sordid it wasn’t – as you can see.

Buxton is a good drive – but Tokyo is further. It seems that my picture has reached the other side of the world. I gave permission in the week for Nippon TV to use the image!

Ms. Suzuki (I kid you not) has asked for a Licence:

- Program Title: Sekai Banzuke
- Broadcaster: Nippon Television Network
- Territory: Japan Only
- Air date: June 27, 2014
- No. of transmission: One time

It’s a whole programme about … toilets.

So if you’re in Japan (only) on 27 June – watch Sekai Banzuke. You might just spot my picture. If you want to try a taste of the programme – click here.

Global domination indeed.

Nottingham – city of rebels (still)

That cute little kid Macauly Culkin (remember him in Home Alone?) popped into our fair City at the weekend.


Actually it was him with his band, the Pizza Underground. He’s trying to forge a music career. The only problem is that Nottingham is now a serious hotbed of musical talent and we Nottingham folks have a high threshold on quality. Culkin clearly hadn’t been told. He ‘played’ our world famous Rock City. A hallowed turf where the likes of Bowie, Nirvana, Oasis and Blur have trodden the boards.

This new band are apparently pushing a comedy set – taking well known hits and replacing key words with pizza references. It does sound crap and he was found out very early. I’m not sure I would pay!

After wrecking Lou Reeds Perfect Day with ‘Perfect Pizza’. it went horribly wrong. The crowd evidently didn’t feel that booing him was enough – so soaked him in beer…

He lasted just 15 minutes.

People were ejected as the organisers would have to do. And the organisers made a statement about a few people ruining the set.

It seems that Nottingham retains its crown of City of Rebels…

(Obviously I do not condone the sort of behaviour witnessed)

The dawn of a new era in broadcasting – Notts TV is born…

I can remember being in a meeting at Antenna some time ago when Confetti Media Group were thinking about bidding for a Nottinghamshire based TV franchise. It all seemed really exciting.


Notts TV was then won, not once but twice, by Confetti in conjunction with NTU and the Nottingham Post. In the last 198 months a lot of hard work has gone into the planning of the new station. And today it launches on Channel 8.

This is brilliant opportunity for Nottingham. It gives us a local TV station which will be driven purely by local stories. Being independent it doesn’t have the shackles of the BBC. It also gives many young people the opportunity to work in TV – something that has traditionally been hard to achieve unless you can get into the mainstream broadcasters – and those opportunities are few and far between.

This TV franchise sits cleverly with the Nottingham Post (who gather news) and with the broadcasting course of NTU. In addition is is seated firmly in the heart of the Creative Quarter where Confetti’s headquarters are. Many young people will get an opportunity to work in a real life TV station.

I think this is brilliant and fits so many local agenda’s. Local stories and local talent will make this a success.

I’m off tonight to the launch party and can’t wait to see what the new station has in store for us…

The house price conundrum

I blogged earlier this week about the problems of the house market in London. I was interested to see some of the facts issued this week about how our house prices have changed in the last year.


The headlines from the Office for National statistics:

* UK house prices rose by 8% in the year to the end of March (the newspaper headline)
* The annual property price increase in London stood at 17%
* Excluding London and the South East of England, prices were up by 4.7%
* Prices in Northern Ireland increased by 0.3%, and by 0.8% in Scotland
* The average home is now worth £252,000

So, as always the statistical headline is a nonsense. An average of 8% doesn’t really apply – London is skewing the figures. The regions are rising – but at nowhere near the rate of the Capital and South-East. Northern Ireland was hit hard in the recession and hasn’t recovered.

One of the ‘big ideas’ to lam this all down is to increase the base rate. There is a rise on the horizon – but it is a relatively crude tool. In London it has potentially less effect as it is reckoned that 40% of purchases are in cash!

I don’t know what the answer is. I listened to a debate on Radio 4 where it was clear that the new tightened Mortgage lending rules are causing some issues. There are some anomalies when ‘computer says no’ to a number of people who clearly, on a common sense basis, should be suitable security for lending.

We have, of course, had an issue with building houses (the supply side). There were 112,630 houses completed in England in the last year, a rise of just 4% on the previous year. We are told that we need to build 250,000 homes a year to meet demand. More supply should, in theory, assist.

There is no simple and easy answer but there are different problems in the regions to those south of Watford! One size does not fit all…

Nottingham – The worst place to live?

I can’t pass on a ‘story’ doing the rounds that I live in the eight worst place to live in the UK.


You can read this fully researched and statically accurate data here. The people have spoken apparently (or strung a few words together?)

Except that they don’t quite have that luxury – by their own admission, “This list is not based on any hard statistical evidence, but the volume of comments on Chavtowns. We have applied for access for the police.uk API, so next years figures should take the volume of anti-social of behaviour in the area as well!”

Oh, thats ok then.

At least they have found some intellectual, I presume from one of our world class Universities to help. Going by the slightly unusual birth name of “Jaded Agoraphobic”, he or she suggests:

“I’ve lived there all my life and I don’t think I’ve ever been into town, day or night, without seeing someone being attacked or harassed, or some dregs of society having it out in the street”

The good news is that we can all partake in this crowd-sourced research. It will be peer reviewed. As they say, “So you want to add your town to Chavtowns? Well we just don’t add any old rubbish to the site. You need to write a minimum of two paragraphs for your article to be considered. Just putting “my town is crap, don’t come here” is not going to cut it. We like articles that are darkly comic and cynical.“.

I think we can treat this piece of critical analysis with the attention it deserves. Ignore it. Even if it is darkly comic and cynical.


It’s difficult to explain what has happened over the last few months in the local market. Most of the press have eyes on London and the South East. There is a boom there without doubt.


One of my housing developer clients told me they are seeing £350,000 for a 500 square foot studio apartment in Islington. That’s a space 20 ft wide by 30 ft long. In that you have to squeeze a bathroom, kitchen and living sleeping space. The plan picture is 500 sq ft. Imagine if there re two of you – cosy!

You might have spotted that my blog posts are a little sporadic of late. The reason is that my work-life has changed beyond recognition in the last six months. I have bids at pre-crash prices on land, I have offers out on buying land and buildings and we are working as long hours as I can remember. All great for profitability – hard on the sleep thing!

But i can’t help but wonder if this is all a bit flash in the pan. None of us hope that this is the case – it’s been a long depression! But we all know that any Government funded schemes have to be spade ready and ideally finished before next March. The interest rates may well increase – although I have a suspicion that June 2015 is more likely than next January!

All eyes are on the General Election. In reality no one knows what is going to happen – uncertainty never helps a fragile market.

I just hope that we don’t go bust – again.

Collaboration in the Industry

Yesterday I was part of a panel speaking at Nottingham Trent University (The Poly to me). It was a session looking at how collaboration works (or doesn’t) in our industry. Actually I was a bit of a lone voice as the audience and some of my fellow panel members were quite ‘building’ focussed.


There was an interesting question put to us; “Do we need Universities any more – can we teach people via Apprenticeships and on-the-job training“. At first sight this is a fair point. Particularly in my profession. Some of the work I do could be taught in an office. Some of what we do can best be described as a process. So yes part could be learned.

But a profession is more than just a process. The joy of my work is that I am sometimes challenged to think. To come up with solutions. Solve problems.

I was asked in the week on another occasion whether any of what I learned at the Poly was ever used by me? Well it is. The core skills I learned about technique I use most days. The the legal framework in which we operate hasn’t changed much (other than the odd bit of case law) and I use that a lot. My knowledge of building construction still is critical to my day job.

So my view is that we do need Universities to train our future surveyors to think. To grasp the core skills of building construction, measurement, value and the law. Understand how property works as an asset class. We can collaborate with the learning institutions to make sure these skills are delivered to make surveyors employable.

What I don’t think Universities can do is teach ‘commerciality’ and I guess that only 1 in 10 graduates enter our office with it. We can probably teach it to another 4 and the rest will probably never get it. That may be tough – but I suggest is true.