We speak to the president of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) about why it’s holding a UK property summit

Eleanor Doughty
Amanda Clack, president of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors

On 16 May, the second RICS UK summit will be held at King’s Place in north London, attracting executives from the property, construction and land industries and it aims to offer a forum for debate at an increasingly vibrant time for the built environment in the UK.

Hosting this event in London is essential, says Amanda Clack, president of RICS and partner at Ernst & Young, following on, as it does, from the World Built Environment Forum in Shanghai in March and the Summit of Africa in February. The summit will feature discussions around how disruption can benefit businesses across the UK, the future of construction both residential and commercial, and the challenges for infrastructure plans going forward.

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The time felt right to bring these discussions to London, says Clack. “The chancellor is talking about infrastructure, we’ve had the housing white paper, there’s a focus on the UK’s growing housing shortage, plus economic uncertainty around Brexit. The UK summit gives us an opportunity to look at the drivers of change and how unprecedented events can offer challenges to our industry.”

The world is changing, says Clack, and this is another reason for why this summit is happening now. In the RICS Futures report, ‘Our Changing World: Let’s Be Ready’, published in 2015, some vital statistics were produced.

The urban population is currently at 54 per cent around the world, Clack says. “But if you look at countries like the UK, Canada and the US, it’s in the high 80s. Globally you’re going to have 66 per cent living in cities by 2050, which is huge growth. There’s big urban demand in a way that we’ve not really seen before, so what the summit is trying to do is have an exclusive event aimed at executives in property, land and construction, giving a really robust forum for debate to discuss the UK’s built environment.”

Since the UK voted to leave the European Union, and since the Prime Minister triggered Article 50 in March, there has been uncertainty across markets around the world, Clack says. “2016 was an interesting year for looking at the global landscape – with Brazil’s impeachment, the Italian prime minister resigning, Trump’s election and Brexit.

All of that is a high degree of uncertainty and what investors really look for is certainty.” Clack names what she describes as the ‘six Hs’ as clear signs that the government is prioritising investment in the built environment: HS2, Hinkley, Heathrow, housing, highways and heritage projects.

But RICS is looking to the future, as well as tackling the present, and the summit aims to consider the impact that Generation Z will have on the built environment, and their expectations of it. “We can’t ignore the next generation,” says Clack, turning to consider what workplaces and homes will look like in the future. “Offices are going to be much more about relationship building, and teamwork, and this reflects into houses too.”

The emphasis on sustainability is coming from the younger generations, she says. “Recycling is very much part of our every day society, but it has come from children in schools. If you ask yourself why are real estate corporates building the most sustainable buildings, [it’s not just because] there’s a corporate consciousness, but it’s to help attract the next generation into the workplace, because that’s what they are demanding. Generation Z are much more demanding about what they want from their build spec: live-work-play spaces within a ten minute radius.”

But will Generation Z ever be able to buy anything to live in – should they want to? “Yes,” says Clack. Hopefully.

Tickets to the RICS Summit 2017, on 16 May at King’s Place, 90 York Way, N1 are £195 and available to book at rics.org

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