The Ashfords Development Sector team has been hosting a series of "virtual round table" discussions with our residential developer clients and agents to discuss how we are all seeing life changing as a result of the pandemic.
It's been interesting to hear views on whether or not the reported draw of buyers towards rural properties with gardens is a kneejerk reaction to the prolonged period of working from home (no doubt combined with the fantastic weather we've been having) or whether it's something more fundamental. Although not currently convinced that internal layout and design of standard house-types would dramatically change, there was general consensus that dedicated working from home space was becoming ever more important.
We debated what we thought the longer term impact on public transport and car use might be - just today BBC news reported that one of the potential unintended outcomes of the proposed new garden villages is a greater dependency on car use. Given that we are all currently using public transport much less anyway (whether as a result of avoiding it deliberately or simply not needing to use it), will we be ditching the bus, train and underground in favour of cars, bikes and simply walking?
One thing was clear from all our discussions, and that was that it's obviously too early to assess the long and even medium term impact of the lockdown. At the moment, we're all just trying to work out what the new norm might be and deal with the immediate issues in hand. Developers just want to get sites back up and operational in a safe way and generally get things moving again after weeks of significantly reduced or no construction activity.
Whether or not we will see a fundamental shift to how we view our homes, our places of work and our priorities in general remains to be seen. We all agreed that since 23 March, predicting what might happen in the next 24 hours let alone the next 6 months has proven incredibly difficult - it will be extremely interesting to re-run the catch ups in a few months.
If you're interested in catching up either as part of a virtual round table, over the phone or via a socially distanced take away coffee in a park, please do get in touch - we'd love to hear your views.