The burning question for the property industry at this time of year is how we add greater value to the industry as we move into 2018, writes Michelle Rothwell, founder of Watch This Space.
For me, the answer is simple: create unique, innovative spaces that break away from the norm and help to provide the optimum conditions for businesses and individuals to flourish and thrive.
We need to focus on what the next generation are looking for and it’s not stale, traditional office buildings – it is inspiring places. We’re talking contemporary, cutting-edge spaces which create like-minded “business clusters” and allow companies to focus on growth.
Ones which offer greater alternative incentives and focus on health and well-being are increasingly sought. Our scheme soon to be launched in Spinningfields for example could be mistaken for a garden center when you walk in. At 31 Princess Street where we launched the UK’s first property co-work space, incentives include stand up working, yoga classes, cycle storage and even beer.
There are so many wonderful, yet neglected buildings in the North West and by regenerating them and giving them a new purpose, we can create a hub for the next generation of businesses to grow.
We have had success in creating business clusters, with the results showing that our clients’ productivity has increased by working with businesses with a similar culture as the high concentration of knowledge improves the level of innovation and gives access to a wider marketplace.
Three weeks ago, we also launched an exciting scheme in the Lake District, Billys Space.
The project saw the former Duke William pub, a Grade II Listed building, which had been left derelict for four years, converted into new office and leisure spaces for local businesses.
The 6,000 sq ft development includes cycle storage, electric car charging, showers and each space comes complete with a separate front door, kitchen and toilets, with some featuring additional quirks such as fire places.
There is nothing quite like this in the Lakes with the most unique thing about this project being that the spaces can be bought or rented.
This challenges and disrupts the market as it allows small businesses to be their own landlords which is a rarity for the commercial market in the UK.
We are also happy to let people “try before they buy” and can agree a purchase price which we will hold for two years. This may go against the traditional property status quo but shows that there is a real appetite for innovation and greater flexibility in the sector which is very encouraging.
In 2018, I hope to see new trends and fresh ideas continue to shine through as they add real value to the sector.
The North West in 2018 series features guest contributors looking ahead to next year and is published throughout December.