Last edited 18 Apr 2016

ARCHIVE Development Securities Ideas competition winner announced

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In November, Designing Buildings Wiki and Development Securities PLC launched a competition calling for ideas in response to the question: How do we keep investors interested in UK property?

When the credit crunch hit, investors made for their usual safe havens: the bond markets and prime property. But, as the recovery sets in, they will turn their attention to higher-returning assets instead. So, what can the property industry do to position itself ahead of other markets competing for funds?

Julian Barwick, Director of Development Securities said, “We need to harness the creative thinking of practitioners if the UK is to succeed in the global market. This competition is about harvesting good ideas and a bit of crystal ball gazing.”


There was a tremendous response to the competition, with ideas submitted by surveyors, project managers, architects, engineers, students and academics. Proposals ranged from introducing Michelin-style rating systems for buildings to the creation of a construction efficiency investment fund.

The winner, Anna Rowell, is a recent graduate from the University of Nottingham, now working as an architectural assistant at HTA Design LLP. Anna suggested the property industry would benefit from better standardisation and availability of information, enabling easier benchmarking of property investment choices. She proposed that information systems might take the form of smart phone apps; incorporating a rating system that would collate customer satisfaction on the quality and reliability of property developers. As Anna explained, “The digital era has transformed the role of the consumer, and it is time for this to translate to the property sector.”

In selecting Anna as the winner, Development Securities recognised that investors pay considerable costs for due diligence and market advice, which varies significantly in quality, and to an uneducated investor this could be daunting. If the analysis were simplified and unified across the market, investors would spend less time assessing potential acquisitions and due diligence periods could reduce, making property more liquid with less need for renegotiation. Fully standardising benchmarking may be more difficult, but it is possible that improved market knowledge enabled by advances in IT might one day see Anna’s ideas realised…….perhaps Designing Building Wiki could be the start.

Other great ideas that attracted the attention of the judges included:

  • Crowd funding property development.
  • Regional variation in taxation to encourage investment beyond London.
  • Community urban regeneration schemes to improve the local environment.
  • Establishing major UK property events to attract and direct overseas interest.
  • Better promotion of ‘Britishness’.
  • And finally …. investing in Kingston upon Hull.

The ideas submitted were also interesting for what they revealed about people’s perception of property development and investment. There was a great deal of focus on the cost of development and housing, so house prices were seen as a key indicator of the state of the industry. There were also a large number of entries relating to the north / south divide, and in particular the investment potential of northern regional cities. There was no such focus on the potential of other regional cities, such as those in Scotland, Wales or the South West. It was also notable that practitioners, students and academics all have considerable faith in the wide range of benefits they expect to be delivered by the roll-out of BIM.

Anna will receive £500 and will be invited to Development Securities’ offices to see how they keep their investors interested in property.


Read Anna’s idea in full.


Have a look at all the shortlisted entries.