A favourite saying of mine is that ‘Economists are very good at predicting the past’. However, I do wonder if any economist could ever have predicted what has happened this year.
There have been some monumental changes internationally, nationally and, for me with my business, locally.
Firstly, the sale of our Hodgson Elkington business to the national agent Lambert Smith Hampton set the pace back in April for a year of dramatic changes.
The sale of our business to a national commercial property consultant and agent was, for us, a natural progression.
Choosing Lambert Smith Hampton enabled us to bring to Lincoln a top 10 national agent and property consultancy, which also specialises in regional centres rather than a few isolated large city centre practices.
Bringing all the Hodgson Elkington team into the new business venture enabled everybody to have the security of a positive future for many years to come.
We have already seen a substantial growth in national referrals from businesses operating throughout the country as well as keeping the local business clients and encouraging local growth. The opportunities that this change is creating are already being felt by existing and new clients.
However, who could have predicted that the referendum vote on leaving Europe would have gone the way that it did and that within a matter of weeks we would have a new Prime Minister?
Then in November the American Presidential elections have gone the way that they did?
These two events have led to a very challenging second half of the year. Whilst we have seen the general uncertainty in the property markets disappear, there have been noticeable and significant delays in decision making on business growth and relocation, and also a general hardening in the attitude of the banks towards property lending.
Locally the decision not to go ahead with devolution has, I think, been a big temporary setback for the county.
Having been the market leader in the devolution process, the general indecision by central government as to the structure of devolution forced the county council’s hand in opting not to proceed at present. I do think that this will re-invent itself during the course of the next twelve months hopefully.
Another challenge which has not really been fully appreciated by the business community is the recent issuing of revised business rate demands, which will lead to increased business rates payments for a number of businesses who do not look to challenge or question their Business Rate Revaluations.
However, the national uncertainty and world events that have taken place has not prevented the county from achieving significant landmarks and achievements. Most notably we have seen:-
- The completion of the East West Link Road. This major £20 million plus project funded principally by the County Council and other local authorities will be a major boost to the movement of vehicles around the City centre.
- Commencement of work on the new transport interchange around the refurbishing of the Railway Station, the construction of a new Bus Station, and 1,200 space car park by the City Council. This will dramatically change the centre of the city.
- Confirmation of funding by Central Government of the Eastern Bypass will allow work to commence in early 2017. The creation of this new road will help to alleviate traffic pressures in the city but will also bring forward significant tranches of development land to the eastern side of the city balancing up the general development of Lincoln.
- The completion of a number of education projects, primarily at the university, and the opening up of the second phase of Bishop Burton Agricultural College on the Lincolnshire Showground have also been a big boost to the local economy. During 2017 we will see the completion of further growth at Bishop Grosseteste University and all of these will bring in more students to the area, enhance the kudos educational establishments and help to improve the local economy.
- There have been sales of large scale residential development sites and opening up of projects at Lincoln, Sleaford, Branston and Humberston, all of which we have been involved in, which have delivered over 1,000 building plots for development during the course of the year.
- The securing of local authority contracts with district councils throughout Lincolnshire has helped us to continue to grow the advice on various commercial projects that are taking place throughout the county. An example of this is the Cinema project in the central Grantham redevelopment.
So, a massive change for us all at 1 Oakwood Road with the change from Hodgson Elkington to Lambert Smith Hampton, but one which we are all embracing and the prospects for 2017 look very encouraging.