England – it’s not over…

I struggle with English football. I think there is too much money in it – look at Derby last month. Bobby Zamora cost them around £80m with a single kick in the dying seconds of the game.


Last night it was painful (as always) watching England. But Adrian Chiles (and no doubt Gary Lineker too) will find the mathematical route through. We have to beat Costa Rica and other teams have to win and lose by specific amounts. And then we’ll be fine. We’ll be through. We can then suffer more as we face another better team.

The pundits have analysed and watched, oohed and aahed. “We were unlucky”. “We had so many chances”. “We are a young team”.”We had the better possession”. “More shots on goal”.

Last week it there was a consensus – we were really weak on the left hand side and Rooney was playing in the wrong position. Had it not occurred to the management that it would have been good to have sorted that stuff out before we got to Brazil?

At the end of the day it really is simple. You have to score goals. More than your opponents. If you don’t, you lose – it matters not if the game is beautiful. The missed chances are forgotten. Goals is what it is about. The rest is not relevant.

I personally am praying that the whole of the Italian team are all tested positive for drugs, Uruguay have to go home because they don’t have the right Visas and we beat Costa Rica 36-0. We can then progress and then go home after the next game…

I think I may plan to wash my hair next Tuesday teatime. And buy an England shirt now they are reduced today.

Robin Hood – just for the record….

if you are a regular to this little part of the blogosphere, you will probably know that I was part of the Sheriff’s Commission a few years ago. The Commission was set up with a view to making the most of our best asset and world-wide brand. I went with the Sheriff of Nottingham to America in September 2009 and we prepared a report which looked at what made a World Class attraction.

The Sheriff of Nottingham, Leon Unczur, being interviewed on our USA trip 2009

We also identified a number of people and organisations who were pretty skilled at delivering these attractions. We had meetings with them and they all, without exception, believed that Nottingham was more than capable of delivering a world class attraction.

Then the Sheriffs Commission was all but disbanded – the reality was that it had become too large. Decisions and a coherent direction from big committees is difficult. So a small group was formed with Ted Cantle – former CEO of the City Council – at its head. I was asked to join the group – but a few days later was asked if I would step down due to a ‘conflict of interest’. I did do, because my time at the Commission was given gratis. I know when I am not needed or wanted. The conflict was tenuous to say the least!

I did express a view to Ted that I thought his group lacked ambition – I was concerned that the Castle was being painted and the contents were being shuffled around.

This week in the paper there was news that the big attraction isn’t on its way anytime soon – due to the economic downturn. The economy is in a different place from when we were in the USA just over two years ago.

I can agree with the latter, but I can’t help but express my surprise that progress hasn’t been made. My surprise is simply that I know there are people out there who are still interested in progressing the project…

Seven Billion People…. a few minutes ago

There was news today that the population of the Planet had reached 7 billion – 7,000,000,000 folks crawling, walking and ambling around. I mentioned before that to visualise this you need to fill a Post Box with sand – the individual grains add up to approximately 7bn. Alternatively put all the people side by side – and they would fill the greater Los Angeles area.

There has been spectacular population growth in recent years – in 1930 the number of bodies was 2bn, by 1960 it had reached 3bn. At the current rate of growth it is expected to hit 9bn by 2045. On the day I was born in 1962 there were 3,209,507,604 people about (including me).

Can the planet cope? Do we have the resources we need to survive?

We are pretty good at adapting, but resources are finite. As an example these people will all need fresh water – and of the water on the globe 97.5 percent of it is saline – of the other 2.5 percent freshwater, two-thirds of it is frozen…

Oil will almost certainly run out – so we do need to find sustainable fuel sources. Solar and wind are looking pretty good?

In the short term we may need to sort some housing out. Current estimates suggest that 134,000 new homes were built in the UK in 2010, the lowest number since World War II. It is reckoned that 230,000 new households are being formed every year. By 2025 there will be a housing shortfall of 750,000 in England alone. If this is replicated across the world, we will have a lot of people squeezed into fewer and fewer buildings?

There is just one thing though – who was the 7bn’th person. They deserve a prize!

By Tim Garratt Posted in Green stuff, Nottingham Tagged 000, 7, 7000000000, 7bn, , Fresh water, Los Angeles, people, Population, Population growth, United Nations, , World population, World War II

Nottingham University – a critical component of the City!

I mentioned in some tweets and in my blog at the weekend that I had spent a lot of my day on Friday at the University of Nottingham. It was their Impact campaign launch last week – five days of engaging with lots of people – inside and outside of the University. Friday was about sustainable futures – so of great interest to me!

The opening of the new University Brewing Sciences building by David Greenaway

My day started at the Sutton Bonington campus and the formal opening of a new Bio-energy and Brewing Science Building. It was great to go back into a Brewery – its where my career started all those years ago. The smell of hops reminded me of Home Brewery and Kimberley Brewery. Modern brewing kit is a bit more high tech than I remember it being. Gone are the copper mash-tuns!

After my lunch (which you know about) we had a number of talks from the researchers involved in some real life projects at the University. It is amazing how far the University permeates the community – not just here but on a Global stage. We were reminded that much of what has been achieved at Nottingham was as a result of a massive investment by Jesse Boot in 1928 – £200,000 (estimated to be worth around £9m today).

I couldn’t help but reflect on how important the University is to us as a City. It really does add something which so often is of low visibility, but of huge importance.

My last hour was spent listening to Prof Martyn Poliakoff – who deserves his very own blog post! It was entertaining and informative. And world leading…

The City is very lucky to have this Institution. I am not sure we always realise this?

BroadMarsh the beginning is in sight!

I was delighted to hear at the end of last week that Westfield are making the final preparations for the phase one works at the BroadMarsh Centre in Nottingham.

Phase one is the construction of the upper mall leading to Bridlesmith Gate – with new stores and a massively improved entrance. There will also be a new food court. Westfield are expecting to spend around £50m on this first phase – and it should make a gal difference. The Centre has been gradually slipping for the last few years. Of course when they first obtained their consent the market had begun its free-fall! They are expecting to be on set for 12 months and open for Christmas 2012.

Phase two is the lager scheme – which is expected to take their investment to half a billion pounds. This involves the demolition of the car park, Big City Tyres and the adjacent properties. It will also take out Collin Street. It makes a much better entrance as they strip the roof off the area outside BHS and Argos. We get a proper entrance to the City from the station. The patio doors on Collin street finally get consigned to the skip! The car park gets shifted east.

This really is an exciting time for the City.

And the only fly in the ointment? Well, it is probably the suggestions from Victoria Centre that they too want to start work. Whilst all development has to be welcomed I am convinced that the City cannot support both schemes at the same time. We need, in my view, for the City to shift south towards the station. It doesn’t need to go north. The danger of extending Victoria Centre is that they will become a very insular location.

The new designed for BroadMarsh are much better than these originally submitted. It re-established an old street pattern. Some of the shops are outside.

I think we should encourage BroadMarsh and suggest to Victoria Centre that they look agin at their options in 10 years time!


I seem to be coming back to our Planning system a lot at the moment – I blogged about the proposed changes a couple of weeks ago. I have taken a bit of heat for some comments I made to the Estates Gazette about Nottingham‘s old Planning regime.

Not the sort of Green Belt I had in mind, but you get the picture?

The point I was making was that a few years ago, the Nottingham Planners hadn’t covered themselves in Glory. I thought that they were unresponsive and had caused the City some bad press with developers who went elsewhere. Elsewhere to towns which gave them an easier ride.

Actually my comments were aimed at a Planning system in general – as well as the one in this fair City. It has become a complex matter to get a Consent on anything significant. Some say – so it should. But I see some of the process – which can be over-burdensome, slow and extremely frustrating.

It was interesting to read at the weekend that the Government are now slowing down the possible changes to the system – it looks like they will get delayed by around 18 months. I guess those of us who are used to the system won’t be surprised. The lobbying has been powerful against the streamlining of the system.

We do need Planning controls – they are important. I am a huge fan of the green belt. I think in some cases we could extend it – which would force urban renewal. But sometimes the controls become politicised and that is when we fall into difficulty. No one is going to oppose buildings which create jobs, but sometimes the places which used to house those jobs are no longer fit for purpose. A change of use is needed. And on this occasions what we need is a Planning system which responds quickly to our chaining circumstances – before end up with white elephants for buildings…

MIPIM 2012

As the evenings draw shorter, we start to plan for 2012. And high on our calendar of ‘events’ for the firm is MIPIM, the annual property show in Cannes – I have stopped counting how many times I have been.

A sneaky picture of me working in Cannes taken by Lisa Pilkington from the Estates Gazette

The planning has started for Team Nottingham to have a persence again. The City Council still have no funding to allow represntation of the City on this world stage – so the private sector remain in the seat. We do get great support from Invest in Nottingham.

It looks like we may have some new sponsors this year. This is great news as it allows us to raise more funds and have better events. Last year we had two – which were really well attended. More sponsors also means more help and support.

As the economic situation seems to worsen, MIPIM becomes more important. It is all to easy to slash marketing budgets in tough times – but not everyone has. We need to keep Nottingham firmly on the International map. We have done this in the past, but I have a view which says that if you miss one or two years that could undo all of the good work we have done before.

MIPIM represents a massive networking opportunity. Key players, decision-makers and influencers are all there. We have done well in previous years in getting these people to our get-togethers.

We also feed off our other sponsors. The name of the game is making contact with as many people as possible.

My colleague, Matt Hannah, once said that he wished it were in Blackpool – not Cannes. I’m not sure I agree with that – a bit of sunshine, some gleaming yachts and a glass of champagne or two wouldn’t be quite the same on the Mersey Riviera? And we do work as I can prove here.

Obviously I am joking about the champagne – in these tough times it is more likely to be lager…

Innes England – win win win!

Last night we were at the Insider East Midlands Property Dinner at Nottingham University. This has become the event in the property world annual calendar. With over 400 people from the East Midlands present it is an opportunity to meet lots of people – and celebrate the good things about our region.

the winning team (obviously not at sailing!)

We were also celebrating as we were announced as “Agent of the Year”. As you might expect we were just a little bit chuffed to have pipped FHP and JLL to the post…

And then earlier in the week I picked up my Estates Gazette. At this time of the year they publish their annual results survey – which used to be the Top 100 surveying firms. But, times have changed and it is now the Top 60. This is probably because lots of smaller firms have been swallowed up!

I was delighted to see my firm, Innes England, were at No.44. In a National League – we are pleased to be there.

But our real coup is that we got to the dizzy height of No.29 when we are judged on turnover per fee earner. This shows either that we all work really hard, or that we employ talented people – or both! Most firms have found in the last 12 months that they have had to earn more with less people…

The EG awards are Industry recognised and are important in our marketing strategy. That we beat our local rivals and competitor firms on both counts is great news. It is interesting though that firms are judged on turnover – and I always wonder if this is right. As I have said here before turnover is vanity, profit is sanity and cash is king…

In the meantime we’ll settle for our new title of “Agent of the Year” and EG league table finish.

Onwards and upwards!!

Scotland Golf Tour – Autumn 2011

It was six months ago that I was last in Scotland – but for the last couple of days I have been in Border Country. Specifically between England and Edinburgh, where they have some fantastic golf courses.

One of the tricky holes at Torwoodlee!

As before we use Freedom of the Fariways tickets – which are great value. We get six rounds of golf for £95. But this time we had some spare vouchers – so my six rounds cost £10!

The six we played were:

Lauder – 9 holes. Wet, windy and horrid conditions. In no hurry to go back – a very poor score!

Torwoodlee – We played 9 holes in the morning and 18 in the afternoon. Conditions had improved – and this was a great course. It’s hilly to say the least! A better score around here.

Innerleithen – 9 holes. One of my favourite Scotland courses. It’s old, tiny and very tricky. A good score (4 over par in 9) so I like it!

Peebles. This is a proper course, it’s big and long. I was hitting the ball well and hit my longest drive here – 282 yards. Conditions were good – and the courses is in superb condition.

Woll – 18. We couldn’t get onto our favoured last day course of Hawick, so Woll was the choice. I was enjoying it until I pulled a muscle in my back – at which point my game was over… It did give me a chance to write this blog!

We stayed this time in Peebles – the Green Tree Hotel. The are really nice people and it’s good value. It’s not 4*, but it’s not 4* prices either. It is clean and comfortable.

So that’s it I guess for my goldf tours of 2011. But we love these courses that I guess we’ll be back in 2012.

It does seem odd that I have played more golf in Scotland this year than in England?

By Tim Garratt Posted in Grumpy Old Man! Tagged Edinburgh, , , Golf in Scotland, Hawick, Innerleithen Golf Club, Lauder Golf Club, Peebles, Peebles Golf Club, , Torwoodlee Golf Club, Woll, Woll Golf Club

Invest in Nottingham – go on!

On Monday Nottingham hosted another showcase event for potential investors. It was Invest in Nottingham day!

Last week at Downing Street a couple of our national clients commented on how good it was to see Nottingham promoting ourselves. One in particular, who does work in Bristol, suggested we were miles ahead of them. But that is no reason to pat ourselves on the back – we need to compete with other cities – Birmingham, Leeds and the like.

I was able to to attend two of the ‘events’ n the day – the lunch at Nottingham Trent University and (another) visit to Antenna.

The lunch, sponsored by Westfield, was really well attended and the keynote talk by David Greenaway, VC at the University of Nottingham was particularly well received. David is passionate about Nottingham – and outlined the impact the University has on the City. It has a turnover of £530m, but its economic impact is estimated to be £1bn each year. Their ground breaking work with the MRI scanner was mentioned (I learned for fly many years ago with Sir Peter Mansfield) but latterly there is much excitement about the new early cancer detection test. This is currently being trialled in the USA and the signs are apparently encouraging.

It was also apparent that our two Universities have a wider impact on the City. They contribute to the health and well-being of the place. They help in developing skills and adding to the arts and culture. Of course latterly they are making a global impact too – with the new campuses in Ningbo and Malaysia adding a student cohort of 8,500.

We still have some great stories to tell about Nottingham – but we mustn’t rest on our laurels. We have to keep pushing for the High Speed Two train and the widening of the A453. Our tram extension will be great news. The extensions of Broad Marsh and Victoria Centre will help too.

We have to keep these stories alive.

I was reminded of an old adage during the talks – it’s better to travel than to arrive. And this surely must be a moniker for us. Lets keep travelling… onwards and upwards!