Senior Officials

The Review | Published September 11 2017

Parliamentary Review Foreword

By Melanie Leech - British Property Federation

Real estate underpins every part of our lives. We live, work, and relax in buildings. 
The UK commercial real estate industry provides the infrastructure for every type of business activity – from the offices where entrepreneurial businesses grow and collaborate, to the warehouses and logistical infrastructure that are the backbone of the digital retailing revolution. 
It provides the schools and colleges in which the current and next generations will learn a new set of skills and homes tailored to the changing needs of people in every stage of life – whether it’s student accommodation or retirement communities. It provides the modern, specially-designed GP surgeries in which integrated healthcare will be delivered to a population living longer than ever before. And real estate gives us the shops, cinemas, gyms, bowling alleys, pubs, and restaurants in which we spend our hard-earned leisure time. 
As the representative body for UK commercial real estate, the British Property Federation (BPF) works in partnership with national and local government to ensure that real estate can reach its full potential to deliver economic growth, essential infrastructure and great places. 
The past year has, of course, been an eventful one. The Brexit vote was unexpected for many and hit some of the listed property companies and funds hard in the immediate aftermath. The situation has largely stabilised, but for long-term real estate investors, who need as much certainty as possible when planning regeneration schemes that are delivered on a timeline measured in decades, uncertainty continues to be a challenge – recent indications that there will be a transition period at the end of the two-year Brexit process being a step in the right direction. 
With 28% of invested real estate in the UK owned by overseas investors, our sector is an enormous draw for global capital. It has been hugely positive for our industry that government understands the need to communicate to our global partners that the UK remains open for business. The BPF was pleased to partner with the Department for International Trade this year at one of real estate’s biggest international trade events, MIPIM Cannes, to showcase our sector to the world. 
Ensuring that the positive impact of this investment is spread across the UK is a central goal – and the election of the first six ‘metro mayors’ in May marks a further step forward in the devolution agenda the Government has presented. Delivering the vision set out in the Industrial Strategy, by enabling local leaders to create a clear vision for a region’s future and giving them the powers to take decisions to deliver it, will be critical. And they will find a real estate sector ready to play its part in delivering regeneration and renewal in towns and cities across the country. 
We live in a world which is changing fast, presenting both challenges and opportunities. Sitting at the heart of all economic activity, and delivering the social infrastructure to support our local communities, the real estate industry is uniquely placed to respond and help our country build a bright future.