Womble Bond Dickinson were delighted to sponsor the SPF Annual Conference at the Edinburgh International Conference Centre on Wednesday 7 March 2018.

The theme for the day was Investing in Places and it was clear from the Conference that the commercial property industry in Scotland is key to Scottish economic growth and success.

Key themes

Economic Contribution of Commercial property sector to Scotland

Whilst anyone in the industry has never doubted the contribution the commercial property sector make to the Scottish economy, the SPF commissioned report from the Fraser of Allander Institute assists in quantifying this, assessing commercial property as contributing almost £4.8 billion to Scottish GVA. 

Commercial property supports the Scottish economy through activity in construction but also in real estate, financial services, legal services, architectural and engineering services and other areas.

Scotland offers Investors some key differentiators in the face of uncertainty 

The commercial property industry in Scotland continues to face uncertainty around the outcome of Brexit and although Indy Ref 2 is looking less likely, Derek McKay, MSP made clear that if the Brexit deal was not looking favourable to Scotland, the SNP would not hesitate on going back to the public.

However Scotland is addressing uncertainty with key legislation and support, including:

  • Implementation of a 12 month rates delay on existing property that is expanded or improved and new build property, along with relief until first occupation for new build property following the Barclay Review
  • New Planning Bill – to focus on delivery and enable sustainable development. The conference highlighted that all stakeholders have a part to play in the delivery of the Planning Bill, and if there are areas of concern, such as the right to 3rd party appeal, feedback should be provided 
  • Initiatives such as the Rental Income Guarantee Fund, Housing Infrastructure Fund and Scottish Growth Schemes 

Place-Making needs to be at the forefront of the Development process 

To create places where people want to live, there needs to be a clear and compelling vision that extends across all aspects of development. Master-planning that focuses on collaboration and creating environments where people want to be and businesses can achieve success is key. Scotland should look to exemplar 's of place-making such as Melbourne and Toronto for inspiration.

The sponsorship of the SPF Annual Conference is a further indication of Womble Bond Dickinson's commitment to Scotland. The firm celebrated its 10th anniversary of operation in Scotland last year, opening an Edinburgh office with several senior hires joining to complement the existing Aberdeen team.