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BCO 2014: Business chiefs warn on recovery

The development industry was today warned against ‘absurd’ over-optimism about the UK’s economic recovery

Gerard Lyons, economic adviser to London mayor Boris Johnson, and Martin Vander Weyer, business editor of The Spectator, insisted the economy remains fragile - with implications for architects, developers and other built environment professionals.

Speaking at the British Council for Offices’ (BCO) annual conference in Birmingham, Lyons said: ‘The economy has fallen so much that there is still a long way to go. The focus must be on positioning Britain as a new global economy.’

Lyons predicted interest rates would start to rise ‘gradually’ from next year but the Bank of England may start curbing lending to the property sector, with a detrimental impact on investors.  

Vander Weyer cited business journalist Allister Heath, who commented this week that many people are in a state of ‘absurdly premature jubilation’ about the recovery.

Many are in a state of ‘absurdly premature jubilation’

While current forecasts are ‘broadly positive’, Vander Weyer warned, the political landscape remains uncertain, with the Scottish vote on independence looming and next year’s general election bringing the possibility of another hung parliament.

Meanwhile, the retail landscape will continue to change dramatically as e-tail wreaks havoc on town centres – architects and property developers must work together to repurpose empty high streets, he said.

At a local level, Birmingham City Council leader Albert Bore told delegates a shortage of city centre office space could ‘throttle’ Birmingham’s economic recovery. 

However, schemes such as the £450million Paradise Circus makeover, masterplanned by Glenn Howells Architects, could be a ‘genuine game changer for the city’.

The £450million Paradise Circus makeover, masterplanned by Glenn Howells Architects for Argent

The £450million Paradise Circus makeover, masterplanned by Glenn Howells Architects for Argent

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