Beth Fisher, editor-in-chief of Bridging & Commercial Magazine

Editor's Letter: It's been both a whirlwind and an eternity

Despite the recent stretch of insufferable heat, the clouds of 2020 are still hanging over us.

The UK has plunged into a deep recession, with the economy suffering the biggest tumble on record between April and June. While the ONS reports that GDP climbed by 8.7% during June—when lockdown measures started to ease—it is still a staggering 17.2% lower than February 2020 levels. With consumer confidence low and the public anxious about a potential second peak, who knows how quickly we will ‘bounce back’. We will also soon see the end of government support packages, such as the furlough and CBILS, and unemployment is expected to surge as limping businesses weigh up their options. Already, we have seen almost three-quarters of a million jobs lost from company payrolls since March—and this will only get worse come October. 

The negative impacts of the pandemic will undoubtedly be on everyone’s minds, especially as businesses in our sector aim to best plan for now and later. However, we must also be looking at any opportunities that boost transactions, output and productivity—all of which will help to support the economy. 

In the latest issue of the Bridging & Commercial Magazine, ‘Building Better’, we investigate the latest prospects, such as the reimagining of the high street and how residential projects could improve the vitality and footfall of town centres and why it’s not last orders for the hospitality sector.

It’s clear that the country’s recovery must have the people at its core—and the latest planning reform announcements are an exciting development that will help build better homes where people want to live. This is why we ask Gill Eaton of Iceni to explain how we can work towards a healthier built environment by using the planning system to positively impact wellbeing and prevent projects which don’t serve these objectives. 

Elsewhere, we interview Octane Capital on its first foray into creating an actual product, find out how big data will transform the way valuers and lenders work, and cut a slice of birthday cake with Alan Cleary, group managing director for mortgages at OneSavings Bank, who takes our readers down a decade-long memory lane of Precise Mortgage’s history. 

We also take a peek at what hobbies the industry has mastered during lockdown—including who has taken up the Japanese art of forest bathing, and what it’s like to join a new company during a pandemic.

While we illustrate (literally) was has happened so far during the Covid-19 outbreak (which has been both a whirlwind and an eternity), we have decided to focus this issue on what happens next. That is why our feature, ‘Building for a new world’, dives into how living priorities have changed, and the importance of putting social wellbeing, health, sustainability and affordability at the heart of housing—something that lenders need to be encouraging when looking at future deal proposals. Some 31% of adults have had mental or physical health problems during lockdown because of the size or condition of their living space, and around 30,000 people have spent the period in a one-room home. We all know that this is not acceptable, and we must, as an industry, ensure that new business does not compromise quality.  For starters, why do we say ‘units’ and not ‘homes’? 

Bridging & Commercial Magazine Building for a new world feature
Flick to p.42 to find out how the specialist lending industry can encourage better building and, in turn, emphasise the importance of social wellbeing for all

“…It’s difficult to imagine that lenders won’t look to adapt, and it’s likely that those who don’t will struggle moving forward”, says one expert in this feature. Businesses which actively promote the need for better living standards will be in tune with the trends of what and where people will want to rent and buy and, during a time of great uncertainty, this should be a no-brainer. 

Read the full issue of the latest magazine, here.

Subscribe, for free, to receieve the next glossy hard-copy issue, in October, here.

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