Property People

Sophie Morley, legal director at law firm Clarion
Sophie Morley, legal director at law firm Clarion
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What are the prospects for the commercial property sector in Yorkshire?

Generally, the Yorkshire market is in pretty good shape, but I expect further pick-up post-Brexit. While there’s plenty of development going on, there’s a feeling that a lot of people are holding back amid the current uncertainty. I am particularly interested in how the high street will adapt in response to changing consumer behaviour. I believe that there will always be a demand for physical stores, but people need to be more inventive about how they arrange that space. For example, the high street of the future may comprise a selection of small shop windows which are click and collect points for shoppers, high stock levels will not be necessary and perhaps we need to think more cleverly about how large units can be utilised.

What is the best project you have been involved in?

While I’ve worked with lots of high street names such as Asics and DFS, and been involved in high profile flagship stores, I’ve actually found some of the smaller, quirky projects more interesting. The issues that arise are often unique and it’s really satisfying to feel that you’re making a real difference. I am currently doing some work for Leeds City Council, it is early days, but it will be a really interesting project as it continues.

What is your favourite building in the region and why?

Victoria Gate is one of the most exciting developments. I love the fact that the exterior of the building looks so different from the interior. From the outside, it’s really modern and stylish, and inside there’s an atmosphere of calm and luxury. It’s a fantastic concept and really different. It’s ideal for both my professional and personal interest in retail.

If you could change one thing to improve the property industry in this region, what would it be?

This is really more of a national problem, but I think we need to look at reforming the court system as it can cause massive delays to a project. We need to make it more user-friendly, particularly for smaller matters which are process led.

Who has inspired you?

Professionally, without a doubt, it has to be The Rt Hon Lord Neuberger of Abbotsbury. He is very wise, sensible and totally inspiring to anyone involved in property litigation. From a personal point of view, it’s my parents. I was the first in the family to go to university and they gave me the ability to go to a city they had never been to, into a system they didn’t know, to end up specialising in an area of law neither they nor I knew existed! Their bravery was not only in letting me do it, but in making sure it never occurred to me to be scared.