CREFC Autumn Conference: inclusion and diversity for growth

The property world’s focus on diversity and inclusivity has sharpened throughout this year, as events like the Presidents Club dinner demonstrate a persistent gap to achieving a truly representative industry.

This week’s CREFC Europe Autumn conference was based on this theme, examining the role for inclusive and diverse environments to propel our industry forward. A series of panels addressed the perspective of individuals, real estate businesses, investment strategy and the broader housing market too.

Our very own David Mann joined a panel – ‘Being Inclusive and Diverse Through Our People’ – along with representatives from disability charity Purple, IJD Consulting, Wells Fargo and the Wellcome Trust. Together, the panellists discussed how best to balance the industry for gender, disability, and how to draw on a wider base of new talent.

From a rich session, here are some of the key points we heard:

Understand the gender role gap

While discussion of pay is important, diversity is fundamentally limited by the range of people who see the potential of a career in property, let alone to progress in it.

The industry risks becoming a victim of tradition if leaders continue to hire only those who look and sound like them. A major consequence of this pattern is what Eliza Manningham-Buller described as the gender role gap.

Yet, we know a more diverse team is more likely to be adaptable and capable to solve a greater range of problems than those cut from the same cloth. But how do we break out of the blueprint?

What the panel said:

David Mann, TFT: “We need to be getting into schools and getting the next generation excited about construction and real estate. I’d urge you all as businesses to support organisations like Changing the Face of Property or Property Needs You. Look outside the box in recruitment policies. Get kids – not your friends’ kids – from different social backgrounds in for mentoring, for example.”

Jane Hollinshead, IJD: “It’s about looking less at qualifications and expertise and [asking] what are the characteristics that will make a good employee of the next generation.”

Know the difference between diversity and inclusivity

Hiring for diversity is the first part of the puzzle; cultivating an inclusive environment is the next part of ensuring different people can bring their expertise to bear in the best ways.

As different people find their roles in new teams, it’s easy to fall back on old practices, processes, policies and attitudes which could be exclusive to new talent. Empowering everyone to make their needs understood will help shape initiatives or more subtle cultural changes which pave the way for acceptance and inclusivity to be part of the fabric of a business.

What the panel said:

Eliza Manningham-Buller, Wellcome Trust: “A little thing you can do is draw up a list of behaviours that are non-inclusive, such as having meeting at 6pm when people have childcare needs, or not advertising jobs openly, or jokes; you can list things that are not acceptable. That’s really helpful, people think: ‘I have done that, I need to be careful not to’.”

Mike Adams, Purple: “If you think 3, 4, 5 percent of your workforce have disability needs, that is an underrepresentation – it should be 19 percent. It means you have people in your organisation probably operating sub-optimally, who have mental health or other disabilities, who are really anxious about whether they will disclose or not.”

Don’t wait for change to leave you behind  

One of the greatest catalysts for change are our clients, who understand the inherent advantages of a diverse and therefore representative business. In turn, they expect their supply chain to embrace the same principles.

Therefore, the case for diversity isn’t just about owing opportunity to the diverse array of brilliant people out there. It’s also, simply, good business – sustainable growth and delivering great work relies on finding and retaining talented people from all kinds of backgrounds.

David Mann, TFT: “Clients are holding up a mirror to us. One (a major PropCo) recently told me: ‘If someone comes in and gives us a pitch from an all-male team, we’ll reject it immediately’. That’s a very powerful message to our industry.”

Stacey Flor, Wells Fargo: “I think the biggest advice for people who work at big organisations is just be the change yourself, do it yourself don’t wait for HR to do it.”

New CPD event added to calendar

TFT is running another CPD event in London on 6th December, focusing on building viability. Topics covered will include Rights of Light, Sustainability, Dilapidations and Fire Safety. Some of the issues being addressed will be:

  • The factors to consider for maintaining the long-term potential of the building
  • Why fixtures and chattels can cost or save you money when negotiating dilapidations
  • Why calculating operational energy demands at the design stage is key to identifying opportunities for minimising energy consumption and costs
  • What might the Government ban on combustible cladding materials mean for existing stock?

To book your place, click here. Please note that this is a strictly RSVP event and space is limited. Attendance will be confirmed following registration. There will be two sessions to choose from, morning and afternoon, to suit diaries. One starts at 8am and the other at 4pm. Please state which session you would prefer.

Diversity and inclusion set the agenda at the Scottish Property Federation’s annual dinner

Last week the great and good of the Scottish property industry convened in Edinburgh for the seventh annual dinner hosted by the SPF (Scottish Property Federation). As proud sponsors of the event, and supporters of the SPF since the launch of our Edinburgh office, we were excited to hear a set of great speakers discuss the pressing industry issues we face.

With the annual change of Federation leadership, we heard from SPF’s incoming chairman Miller Mathieson (MD of CBRE Scotland & Northern Ireland) on his priorities for the year ahead. We were glad to hear his intention to support and challenge the Scottish government on property legislation, and to hear his ambition for promoting diversity within the industry.

As we know, our industry workforce isn’t as diverse as it could be to represent all the people who use the buildings and places we create. Whether it’s gender balance, ethnic diversity or openness to LGBTQ+ communities, encouraging people from all backgrounds to share under-represented perspectives can only enrich the industry and, ultimately, help us build a better world.

But how we do we achieve that here and now? Baroness Karren Brady spoke directly from her own experience when she took to the stage after dinner. From steering Birmingham City FC out of administration as MD – aged just 23 – to becoming one of the UK’s most respected business leaders, Baroness Brady spoke of the vision and ambition which drove her success. Her message to women in the industry was to embrace positivity and self-confidence in the workplace, and to be tenacious in making a change.

However, individual efforts must also be underpinned by a community which shares and promotes diverse values. Examples within our industry include: Freehold, the LGBTQ+ community set up jointly by TFT Partner David Mann, and TaylorWessing’s Saleem Fazal; Real Estate Balance, the senior leadership roundtable for implementing gender equality initiatives; and BAME in Property, the organisation bringing ethnicity to the property industry.

Businesses and industry bodies must also continue to champion diversity and instil it as a common feature in our daily business. To that end we fully support SPF’s decision to put this on the agenda for the year ahead.

We’ve all heard about uncertain times and the need to innovate for growth. With that in mind, the need for new perspectives and collaboration across the industry has never been more important! We look forward to supporting the SPF in its efforts to progress diversity and inclusion across our industry, and for all the advantages that will bring.

Cladding ban announced by UK Government

The Government this week announced a ban on combustible cladding (I.e Euroclass B or lower) materials in non-loadbearing facade cladding systems. The ban relates to new buildings with floors above 18m and covers schools, residential (including hotels, boarding houses, hostels), hospitals, care homes and student accommodation.

The ban is expected to be implemented through the changes to Building Regulations in autumn this year.

In a surprise move, the Government stopped short of a retrospective ban on existing combustible cladding systems. Whilst this does not necessarily mean that existing properties are unsafe (there are many factors to ensuring that a building performs adequately in a fire), investors and occupiers will wish to obtain specialist advice particularly in relation to residential assets over 18m in height.

Alan Pemberton, TFT Managing Partner says:

Although the government is implementing a ban on combustible cladding and insulation for residential buildings over 18m, this is not to be applied retrospectively, but where does this leave existing buildings or developments under construction? Potentially blighted and unsafe to occupy?

Not necessarily.

Existing occupied buildings must be fully assessed and evaluated by a suitable qualified person, not only in terms of life safety means of escape, but property protection for risk of fire ignition and spread. Buildings insurance will also be a determining factor with construction approved by insurers to ensure cover provision.

In our view, for buildings under construction and not yet complete, the industry has a duty to construct safe buildings (irrespective of whether works were in compliance yesterday or even today, not just when the ban came into force), especially based on the information now known regarding certain products and materials.

For more information, please contact Simon Young at

Introducing The TFT Purple Book: A Guide to Dilapidations in the UK

The TFT Purple Book is an important guide that shines a light into dilapidations’ darker recesses, identifying the legal context, best practice, the background to how and why dilapidations is dealt with as it is, and addresses areas of legal uncertainty. It is written by a surveyor for surveyors and will also appeal to anyone else who needs to understand this often-complex subject (e.g. lawyers and academics). This comprehensive guide also highlights important topics which are often overlooked. It aims to serve as a single point of reference from which the reader can develop a solid foundation of knowledge. It even considers cattle, children and ‘chattels-vegetable’ – and not many text books can make that boast.

The TFT Purple Book is now available to pre-order on Amazon (available in-store on 18 October 2018) and was written by TFT Technical Partner Jon Rowling, a leading dilapidations specialist and independent expert, expert witness, mediator and arbitrator.

To contact or read more about Jon, click here 

This is the first edition of a book about dilapidations in the UK. You will know that there have been other books written about dilapidations, so why another one you might reasonably ask. It is a good question so I take the opportunity of these opening paragraphs to attempt to explain my impertinence.

My aim has been to provide a reference book that I would have found useful when starting out and practising in the field of dilapidations; a succinct but reasonably thorough romp through the various principles, procedures, reasons, uncertainties and dilapidations-related topics. This isn’t a legal text book; this isn’t a guidance note; this isn’t an attempt to state the law (albeit the law as understood at July 2018 is applied); I’m not a lawyer; I’m not a valuer and, whilst I am a building surveyor, I don’t attempt to tell the reader how to survey a building.

What this book does do is distil a good number of years of acknowledging that the subject is complex, of learning, reading, practising, getting things wrong, trying again, checking constantly, and attempting to get to a position where I understand the subject well enough to explain it to others.

If there is one thing you pick up over the years, it is a gnawing realisation that the more you get to know, the more you realise you don’t know; and that what you thought was certain, almost certainly isn’t certain after all…

Jon Rowling, Author

Reviews include:

This is an excellent guide to the law and practice relating to dilapidations in the UK and will be invaluable to the practitioner whether surveyor or solicitor. Of particular assistance is the helpful way the author approaches the thorny issues of how items should be classified (chattel or fixture?) and supersession. This ‘go to’ guide should save clients both time and money.

John de Waal QC – Barrister and Mediator, Hardwicke

As a book which is intended to draw together the many and complex strands of dilapidations practice, The TFT Purple Book is an accomplished piece of work. I’m recommending it as vital reading to junior members of our team, but it’s also illuminating for those of us with several years’ experience on the legal side who still have more to learn about building surveying and valuation practice within this field.

Tim Reid – Senior Associate, Hogan Lovells International LLP

The book offers a comprehensive and one-stop reference in respect of all things dilapidations. As well as being to the point and easy to understand, it also deals with the different approach adopted in Scotland given the absence of the Landlord and Tenant Acts. This textbook will certainly have a place in our office.

Philip Knight – Managing Associate, Womble Bond Dickinson (UK) LLP

All too often in practice it is relatively straightforward to establish the answer to any particular problem or to express an opinion.  What can be far more difficult is to be sure of how to achieve that outcome.

TFT’s excellent Purple Book seeks to provide the sort of practical contribution and easy understanding that is usually only gained by years of experience.  This new book offers an intensely pragmatic and easily readable text about dilapidations in the UK, which will be a valuable guide of immense assistance to surveyors and other practitioners in this field.  Jon Rowling and his team at TFT should be applauded for their efforts, particularly their ability to identify and to answer so many questions that are often asked, but rarely answered.

David Nicholls – Barrister, Landmark Chambers

TFT Oversees Topping Out Of Cardiff’s Largest Ever Office Development

On Tuesday 12th September, TFT Partner John Newton took part in the topping out ceremony of the 270,000sqft HMRC Government Hub project in Cardiff, signifying promising economic and social growth for the Welsh capital. TFT are project monitoring on behalf of Legal & General Group plc and are proud to see the development reach its top (12th) floor, bringing the scale of the project into perspective. The building represents Wales’ largest ever office development which is to house up to 4000 government staff following projected handover in November 2019.

John says:

I am extremely pleased to be involved and associated with this exemplar project which is being handled and run by a stellar team, namely Rightacres Property and Sir Robert McAlpine, funded and backed by one of the UK’s leading property institutions, Legal and General Group PLC. The development is a real example of “how to construct” in the heart of a vibrant city, the results of which will be felt for years to come in the capital as the centre of town transforms itself into one of the UK’s fastest expanding cities with all the associated economic benefits.

The modern infrastructure is one of 13 new regional hubs being developed for HMRC across the UK.

TFT Bristol Take the Plunge for Local MS Therapy Centre

On Saturday 8th September, a team of five of TFT’s bravest took part in the South West of England MS Therapy centre’s ‘Take the Plunge’ challenge. This involved participants jumping into Portishead Marina just outside of Bristol, to be rescued by well-trained Newfoundlands, a dog breed who have a propensity to rescue people from water.  The annual event helps to raise the necessary funds in order to provide a range of treatments and therapies for people living with MS and other neurological conditions, including physiotherapy, oxygen treatment, acupuncture, reflexology and aromatherapy.

TFT were gold sponsors this year and the team raised over £700 for the local charity.

Jay Ridings (Associate, Bristol). who took part in the fundraiser, recounted the memorable day:

The sprightly TFT bunch arrived nice and early in the Portishead drizzle ready for freezing cold temperatures, slobbering faces and the risk of being eaten by our would-be rescuers. The dogs were huge and excitable!! To our relief they were also very well drilled and enjoyed (loved!) saving people.

We could not have asked for a better ‘saving’. Paul Spaven’s (Partner, Bristol) rescue dog was slightly reluctant to jump in initially (some said it was his fluorescent pink gloves!?) but the dog’s trainer assured Paul that it had happened the week before and that the canine was in a “phase”. Thankfully, he was eventually saved and so is still with us. Just as well, as he will be the next trustee for MS Therapy Bristol!

We all had great fun for such a brilliant cause and I would recommend that anyone who isn’t too keen on swimming gets a Newfoundland to drag them around in relative luxury!


TFT pushes for wellbeing in the workplace with another WELL AP!

TFT’s Sustainability Team added a second WELL accreditation to our belt after Energy & Sustainability Consultant Giulia Mori gained her WELL AP. This credential, defined by the International WELL Building Institute (IWBI), denotes expertise in the WELL Building StandardTM and a commitment to advancing human health and wellness in buildings and communities.

But what does this mean for TFT and the industry?

According to the IWBI, each year, inhaling particulates causes around 29,000 deaths in the UK and around 40,000 deaths are attributable to exposure to outdoor air pollution, with more linked also to exposure to indoor pollutants. This has a dramatic cost on society that has exceeded more than £20 billion every year.  As we spend 85% of our lifetime indoors, TFT recognise the upmost importance of the design and construction of buildings that seek to address poor indoor environmental quality (IEQ) and promote the wellbeing and satisfaction of occupants.

Spaces that are well lit, comfortable, stimulating and adaptable, have the right level of noise control, provide high quality potable water, and promote healthy food consumption and an active lifestyle, contribute towards an individual’s wellbeing. Putting people at the centre of design will support initiatives that seek to attract and retain talented employees, improve staff health both mentally and physically, and reduce absenteeism and presentism; people centred design helps people thrive.

WELL-accredited professionals in the industry are growing but still not plentiful. The more who qualify, the more knowledge and ideas shared. By having two WELL APs at TFT, we are be able to action ideas and inspire and help to develop each other’s concepts and designs more proactively and efficiently. We have supported the IWBI to assist their understanding of the European and UK equivalences for the WELL version 2 standard which was developed in the United States. Our clients are asking TFT to review WELL feasibility on the majority of our development projects as there is an increasing demand either direct from tenants entering pre-let agreements, or they see this as a differentiator for speculative shell and core developments.

We are also keen to improve the wellbeing of all the TFT offices and are working towards this for the benefit of us all.

The future of the office environment is looking bright!

‘The All Purples’ triumphant rugby victory at Hyde Park!

By Giulia Mori (Energy & Sustainability Consultant)

TFT’s own tag rugby team won Wednesday’s challenging match against multidisciplinary consultancy group Dar Al-Handasah in the TryTag property league, held at Hyde Park each week. ‘The All Purples’ worked as impressively as a team: keeping the line; checking the numbers; facing forward and running to the try line over 15 times.

Unmerciful tries left right and centre from the TFT rugby duo Sarah Gunn (Marketing) and Olly Linton(Surveyor) with an unbelievable series of tags and defence strategies from Ollie Morris (Senior Energy & Sustainability Consultant), Deni Cherneva (Senior Graphic Designer), all steered from the directions of ever-present captain James Child (Surveyor)! Sarah was awarded overall player of the match from the referee and TFT look to be in the final in 4 weeks time!

I was gutted to not be part of the action this week, but it was nonetheless a great match to watch. We are getting there, team: well done to all players and good luck in the next rounds.

Wellbeing in Retirement Living

With a growing and ageing population, it isn’t a surprise that the retirement living sector is expanding to meet this demand. The housing market is already stretched, and this is overlaid by the need to provide housing suitable for an ageing population.

Successful retirement developments address the need to provide an environment that actively encourages wellbeing through social hubs on site; such as clubhouses, restaurants, wellbeing centres and swimming pools, etc. These facilities, which promote social wellbeing, are then combined with onsite health and domiciliary care services and supporting technology.

This technology provides comfort and reassurance through 24-hour alarm call systems, site wide messaging, medicine reminders, appointment and facilities booking, bed sensors and automatic lighting, staff log in, access control and site events calendars. All managed through technology and applications from within the dwelling.

Successful developments should aim to provide a flexible and tailored environment to be able to provide just the right amount of help and support that people not only require now, but will also require as their needs change with age.

David Medcraft, Technical Partner at TFT, is currently part of a team working on all development phases of Great Alne Park, a luxury retirement village in Warwickshire,which has just celebrated the launch of its clubhouse.