What are the prospects for the property sector in Yorkshire and Humber?
We have a tremendous window of opportunity between now and the moment the Government decides it must pull back to make sure they win votes in Conservative heartland areas down South. The sooner governments stop playing politics with the national economy’s regeneration, the sooner our region will see a sustained medium to long term recovery.
What is the best project you have been involved in?
I have several larger scale housing and mixed use schemes under preparation at the moment in Yorkshire. My favourite project, however, was the approval of over 30 houses in the Durham green belt at Ramside Hall. Pre-dating the current housing push, that planning permission enabled significant economic development around the hotel to the value of £18m and the creation of over 150 new jobs. We’ve since developed an expertise in enabling developments, both historic and commercial.
What is your favourite building in the region and why?
Rievaulx Abbey - a truly beautiful, tranquil place to spend a few hours when the coach trips have departed. Or my local pub, the Lamb and Flag in Bishop Monkton.
If you could change one thing to improve the property industry in this region, what would it be?
The empty property tax is, in my view, the very worst example of short-term decision making at government level.
Who has inspired you?
I heard Sir Jonathan Porritt speak about environmental matters as long ago as 1985 at a planning summer school. He introduced the importance of sustainability and recycling long before we all had different coloured bins outside our houses. He explained these concepts in the simple terms of the vast array of disposable items he found in his hotel room, all of which end up in landfill. I still see the same plastic bottles wherever I stay, and wonder how successful we have actually been. However, I will always appreciate his ability to explain complex issues in accessible terms.