Winners’ delight at property industry’s big night
By Alan Bunce, News Editor
No-one was more shocked than Nick Coote to find himself on the stage at the Thames Valley Property Awards for the rousing finale to a memorable evening.
The head of Thames Valley for Lambert Smith Hampton had already collected the Consultancy of the Year award for LSH in front of 500 guests at the event at Ascot Racecourse on May 14. Then as presenter for the evening, Gyles Brandreth began announcing the award for Outstanding Contribution of the Year, Mr Coote started to recognise the description.
He said: “I was absolutely, totally surprised. I was sat there laughing at how he was introducing it and wondering who it was, but when he said ‘Swindon Town fan’, I thought, ‘how many of those could be here?’ Then I began to think ‘oh my god, it’s me’. Before that I had no idea but it was a very pleasant surprise.” And he admits he was glad he had driven to the event so he was able to collect the award in fine sober condition!
Mr Coote, 20 years in the Thames Valley, had been key in a significant acquisition which brought TripAdvisor to a 45,000sq ft site at Oxford Science Park.
That deal also led to the award of Real Estate Executive of the Year for Anne Columbia who advised TripAdvisor. Oxford had no single site of suitable size and specification for the travel website’s requirements so two buildings on the park were used, providing what Mr Coote called a ‘terrific workplace’. The deal, he said, emphasised the Thames Valley’s importance as a technology hub and he said the area must continue to promote itself.
The evening had begun with an introduction from joint organisers Matthew Battle, managing director of UK Property Forums and David Murray, publisher of The Business Magazine. They handed over to the evening’s host, TV personality and former MP Gyles Brandreth. Mr Brandreth later praised guests for the way their efforts were driving the economic recovery and it was one of Reading’s economic success stories which took the first award.
Green Park won the Business Park of the Year award. The 200-acre park had seen substantial growth in its amenities and reported a major landmark deal with PepsiCo, who took 105,000sq ft.
Chris Carter-Keall, vice president and head of asset management Europe at owners Oxford Properties said: “We are delighted to have won Business Park of the Year at the Thames Valley Property awards this year. “We are incredibly proud of the business community we have built at Green Park which is home to over 50 companies, from start-ups to multinationals. We believe the workplace is more than just a building and that at Green Park our occupiers are joining a thriving community with outstanding conference and park amenities.”
Reading-based planners and designers Barton Wilmore’s new office at The Blade helped it pick up the Workplace Environment of the Year award. Partner Kim Cohen said: “We are absolutely delighted to have won this award for our office. Our new workplace has given us the opportunity to showcase what we are about and how we can plan, design and deliver.“
Cushman & Wakefield took the Industrial & Logistics Property Consultancy of the Year award and Reading was named Town of the Year, thanks to its success in attracting massive investment.
Executive director for Reading UK CIC, Nigel Horton-Baker said: “It was a great relief that we did it. I feel we thoroughly deserved it, given the amount of effort the council has put in to attract investors. They all want to be here. “We get a lot of enquiries from as far as Bristol, the West End, Hampshire and Surrey, all wanting to relocate here.” And he was keen to praise the event itself, now in its second year. He added: “It got off to a great start last year and this was even better. The food was excellent for such large scale catering and Gyles Brandreth was excellent, real value for money.
“It flowed really well and was well organised. There was a great feeling around the room.” Equally pleased was Inland Homes which took the Housebuilder of the Year award. A spokesperson said: “We are thrilled that Inland Homes have been recognised and awarded the prestigious House Builder of the Year accolade. “Inland has an ethos of sustainability and community engagement and we are delighted that this has been acknowledged. We thoroughly enjoyed the evening.”
Development of the Year went to Landid for its One Valpy Street scheme, turning humdrum Minerva House into an exciting, vibrant office space.
Development director Andrew Clarke said: “We were really pleased and very excited. We enjoyed all the awards. “Valpy is a relatively small building in a big category. For us it was about doing something quite different with an unloved building. We made it fresh and new and put it back onto the market. It’s a bit of London coming to Reading, a real bit of Hoxton.”
Mr Clarke praised the scale of the event as a boost to the whole area. He said: “It was great and really well organised. Gyles Brandreth brought a certain level of informality that was really fresh and enjoyable and it was a great opportunity to network and meet new and old faces. “It was well run and professionally run and gave the Thames Valley a sense of strength.”
Commercial Property Deal of the Year went to Patrizia for its pre-let of 730 Wharfedale Road, Winnersh Triangle to aerospace defence specialists Rockwell Collins. Patrizia asset manager Will Lawrie called it ‘fantastic recognition’ for the landmark agreement. He added: “It shows how our ambitious focus on top class facilities and accommodation has drawn blue chip tenants. We aim to repeat this success and bring even more investment, jobs and trade into the Thames Valley.”
Newbury-based Heaton & Partners won the award for Rising Star Property Business of the Year. The property search and advisory service, barely two years old, has expanded rapidly and prides itself on its quality of advice. Partner Helen Rhodes said: “We are absolutely thrilled and proud to have been recognised at the Thames Valley Property Awards. “
Property Law Firm of the Year went to Shoosmiths which counts Regus and Lloyds Bank among clients. Partner in the real estates team Alan Corcoran said: “This is a fantastic result for the Shoosmiths team, reflecting excellent deals, strong client relationships developed over many years and plenty of hard work.
“We work very closely with our clients and their other professional advisors and we are very grateful for their support in not only winning this award but also on each and every deal we work on with them.”
Almost £7,000 was raised on the evening for the event’s chosen charity, the Alexander Divine Children’s Hospice Service from donations by guests.