I attended the property market review at Solicitors Foot Anstey in Exeter this morning, which was an interesting and informative event. Charles Killingsbury from Jones Lang Lasalle, one of the key speakers, told us that he believed Exeter could become a hub for renewable technology aswell as one the most desirable place to live in the future. We were also told that the hotel market was booming locally, although retailers were having an understandably tough time with increasing sails over the Internet but reduced sales from shops on the high street something that was made clear in the Portas report (http://www.maryportas.com/news/2011/12/12/the-portas-review/)
Although the mood was a little somber, there was optimism in the air – Exeter and the South West do after all have a fatastic quality of life to offer, and a lot of that is free!
Meanwhile Business Insider have told us that Swindon is weeks away from launching a development blueprint that will map out the town’s plans for its development as a business destination for the next 20 years.
Graham Taylor, principal of New College Swindon said: “One topic that crops up regularly is the need for a greater arts and cultural offering and tackling this should be combined with what we do about retail.
“Like most other places, Swindon has vacant retail units that won’t be filled by shops now the next generation shop online. There has to be a more mixed town centre economy.”
As architects maybe we should be thinking about how to edal with the issue of empty shops and offices and how to convert these to alternative uses? It may be a way to tackle the ever increasing affordable housing problem, whilst also reinvigorating our town and city centres.