Wednesday, 1 March 2017

MSc Real Estate: Bicester Village 2017

On Wednesday 8 February (2017) the MSc Real Estate students went on the annual field trip to the international shopping destination that is Bicester Village. Bicester Village is one of a number of Chic Outlet Shopping® Villages that are operated and owned by Value Retail. There are now nine 'villages' in Europe and two in China and each is defined by its luxury brands and open-air ‘village’ setting.

The purpose of trip is to highlight the link between business, marketing, branding and real estate. There were presentations from the original developer (Chris Harris, Director of Value Retail) and the current marketing team (Miranda Markham, Community Relations Director for Value Retail). The students go there every year (read about the 2016 visit here) what's new for 2017? Click on the red links for more information.

Presentation from Chris Harris (left) and Miranda Markham (photo by Ragini Venu)

Phase 4 of the development has now been approved (in September 2016) and will include a further expansion of the development, the relocation of the existing Tesco store and traffic management plans. Bicester Village remains a major tourist destination in the UK (for certain groups of tourists) and the development of the Bicester Village rail station reflects this - offering a direct route from central London as well as luxury surroundings, although the naming of the new station was not without controversy.

In 2016, I remember Miranda Markham talked about the marketing strategies for Bicester Village and the customer (or guest) statistics behind it. She explained the importance of social media and how it was being used to promote Bicester Village...I did a little investigation to see what their social media presence is like. Here's what I found (you can draw your own conclusions):

Instagram - 45.1k followers, average 1 or 2 posts a day (mainly product/event images)
Facebook - 196k likes (followers), average 1 or 2 posts a day (often shared with other channels, but including videos)
Twitter - 34.1k followers, average 4 posts a day, highlighting events and offers
Pinterest - interestingly only 199 followers...could this be a recent venture, or just not such a good social media platform for Bicester Village?
YouTube - about 100-500 views per video, mainly designer interviews/events
Weibo - (the Chinese microblogging site which is similar to Twitter) has 42k followers

And what about Bicester itself? Well, a few years ago it was designated the location of the UK's first eco town (development already underway) and more recently, it was chosen as a new garden city with a plan to build 13,000 new homes on the edge of the town. Not everybody was pleased about this.

Walking into Bicester Village (photo by Ragini Venu)

Following the formal sessions, the students walked from the John Paul II Centre through Bicester town centre and entered Bicester Village through the new railway station. They had time to indulge in some serious retail therapy and experience the development from a consumers' point of view. Although Nick French rather hoped that, as budding property experts, they were thinking about tenant mix, pedestrian flows, demographics and the efficient use of space as they enjoyed their shopping experience. And finally, each year the students enjoy a wonderful breakfast :)

Breakfast - by Ragini Venu

More information on the MSc Real Estate here.

Tuesday, 28 February 2017

BSc Real Estate Management: the Bristol Field Trip

This year (on 6 February 2017), the third year students on the BSc Real Estate Management headed off to Bristol for the annual PPT (Professional Practice Test) residential visit. The visit provides the students with an opportunity to study a local property market (in a location away from the south-east) and to apply all aspects of the real estate management subject disciplines to locally based case study problem solving.

And so to Bristol...Bristol is a city straddling the River Avon in the southwest of England with a prosperous maritime history. Amongst (many) other things, Bristol is home to the famous Clifton Suspension Bridge and (was home) to its equally famous engineer, Isambard Kingdom Brunel. It is also home to two rival football teams (as many big cities are), a great harbourside and some rather famous street art (and Banksy). It is also a very beautiful and thriving city. Well worth a visit. Take a look a the red links to find out a bit more.

A Banksy original. On a wall in Bristol.

This is what the students got up to in Bristol (photos by Mike Patrick)...

At Cribbs Causeway with PJ (Paul Jenkins)

On the first day, the students started with a visit to The Mall, Cribbs Causeway, a shopping centre managed by Intu. They had a tour and a presentation on the development from Greg Wilson, Asset Manager at Intu. After lunch the students visited Lakeshore, a residential development by Urban Splash and listened to a presentation from David Caird of Ferguson Mann Architects, specialists in conservation/regeneration projects.

The students at Lakeshore and the Lakeshore video (below)...

Back at the hotel, the day finished with a presentation about the retail market in Bristol, by Nick Allen, Investment Partner at Cushman & Wakefield, the coursework briefing and a group meal. Tuesday 7 February started with a talk on the office market in Bristol, given by Hannah Waterhouse (Associate Director), Lydia Riches (Graduate Surveyor and an Oxford Brookes BSc REM alumni) and Ross Wigley (Graduate Surveyor), all from JLL. The day continued with a tour of the commercial areas of the city which included...

...a boat tour of the city, hosted by JLL.

The presentation from JLL (Lydia Riches is presenting)

The rest of the day and the next day (Wednesday 8 February) were spent working in groups, researching sites and preparing project presentations for the  PPT vivas which were held on the final day. Then back to Oxford.

Interested? More information about the BSc Real Estate Management here.

Tuesday, 24 January 2017

Five years of blogging...

One of the first photos to appear on the blog...the Oxford Brookes Real Estate Rugby Team, taken shortly before the 2011 charity match against the University of Reading. We won (36-15) and the event raised over £5000 for charity.

Five years ago we had an idea. And that's how the blogs tell the story of the Department (of Real Estate and Construction). In the end we started two: Hot Property (telling the story of real estate) and Not Just Hard Hats (telling the story of construction). Five years later and now part of the School of the Built Environment, we have a third blog: Planning and Urban Design. Along the way we have told our story and created a history for ourselves. And now the blogs are 5 years old. Thanks to all the people who have helped write stuff, taken photos and supported our work. Here are some of the highlights of the last five years (click on the red or blue links for more information)...

Number of posts: 278
Number of hits (visits): 107, 972 from all over the world

Top three posts on Hot Property:
Regeneration might still come to Morecambe
MSc Real Estate Prize 2012-13: Natasha Sidoli
MSc Real Estate: Lisbon 2016 in numbers...

Top three posts on Not Just Hard Hats:
The Construction Industry: a suitable place for women?
MSc BIMM: Q&A with Henry Abanda
MSc QS and Commercial Management: Q&A with Damilola Ekundayo

Number of field trips: 88 field trips have been documented on the blogs - take a look at the field trip tag on the blogs to find out more.

Number of new courses introduced: 5 (plus our Real Estate Mentoring Scheme)...
MSc Real Estate Investment Finance
MSc Construction Project Management
MSc Building Information Modelling and Management
MSc Quantity Surveying and Commercial Management
MSc Real Estate with 3 pathways: Commercial/Residential, International, Hotel & Hospitality
BSc Real Estate Management Mentoring Scheme

Number of students interviewed: 12...take a look at the student profiles tag on the blogs to find out more about our students and what they think of us.

Number of building moves: was quite a dramatic move as our old building was demolished to make way for a new flagship building for Oxford Brookes...the John Henry Brookes Building. We documented our favourite parts of the Darcy Building before it was demolished.

Our alumni: many of our students choose to stay in touch with us after they graduate (and become alumni). We have 3 alumni groups on LinkedIn and we also make use of our alumni as guest speakers, mentors and course advisers. Take a look at the alumni tags on the blogs...there are some alumni profiles there too. Those LinkedIn groups:
Construction, QS and Project Management
Real Estate Management
Real Estate Investment Finance

Lots of social events: Real Estate and Construction. 

And my favourite photos...

One of the many snowball fights on the 2013 field trip to The Netherlands

The MSc Project Management in the Built Environment Study Week in March 2012...brick laying workshop

Students showcasing their work at the Industrial Placements Workshop in 2014

The amazing (and unique) Crossrail development field trip

The MSc Real Estate field trip to Barcelona in 2015

The second year BSc Real Estate Management students drawing up a Schedule of Dilapidations in Wantage

The 2016 Oxford Tour. Showing our new students our beautiful city.

Houses marked for demolition in Morro da Providencia. Photo taken as part of the UK-Brazil Urban Network.
Look at the research tags on the blogs for news of other research projects taking place.

The 2016 Real Estate Ball

And finally a video. We try and inspire the students of the future by taking part in the Oxford Brookes Creative Industries Day. The bridge building exercise from 2016...

Friday, 25 November 2016

MSc Real Estate: Birmingham 2016

MSc Real Estate 2016-17

During the second week of November, the students on the MSc Real Estate went on a field trip to one of the contenders for the title of England's second city: Birmingham (although not everyone in Manchester would agree). The field trip is designed to introduce the postgraduate students to issues of sustainable use and development in the context of specific commercial and residential property markets and to:
  • develop an understanding of sustainable use and development
  • examine the use, investment and development of commercial property
  • set commercial property in a wider economic, social, political and legal context

Birmingham has traditionally been regarded as England’s second city, but has long been thought of as a less-than-glamorous destination. The major development plan for Birmingham was launched in 2010 and lays out a 20-year vision known as The Big City Plan. Regular updates on regeneration projects appear in the Birmingham Post (a great site). Birmingham is changing and has a lot more to offer than previously thought. Interestingly, the Guardian has just produced the 'Alt City Guide to Birmingham'. Click on the red links for more information. Photos by Ibrahim Naseer and David Shiers.

The itinerary (not including extra-curricular activities)...

Monday 7 November
After arriving in Birmingham, the students attended a presentation on the Paradise Project by Theo Holmes (CBRE) and Ross Fittall and Sunil Johal (Project Directors, Argent). And then met for a group meal in the evening.

Listening to the presentation about the Paradise Project

The model and...

...the real thing.

The Library of Birmingham...located next to the Paradise Project area.

Tuesday 8 November 
Breakfast, and then a walk to Bilfinger GVA in Brindleyplace for a series of presentations:

  • Retail – Gary Bucknall
  • Ratings – Rob Smith
  • Q&A Session with Bilfinger GVA
  • Offices – George Jenning

Next was a walking tour of Mailbox and Grand Central shopping centres, finishing at the Bullring. The students moved onto Fort Dunlop (developed by Urban Splash) in the afternoon for a tour and a measurement exercise.

On the way to Brindleyplace...

...for a presentation from Bilfinger GVA.

The shopping centre tour - inside Mailbox.

On the way up to...

...Grand Central.

And finally the iconic Selfridges store at Bullring.

In the afternoon, on the top of Fort Dunlop. Which looks like a film set.

And the view.

Wednesday 9 November 
A walk to Savills (Innovation Court) for a guided walking tour of Southside, Digbeth (the creative quarter) and Moor Street with Siobhan McCrystal and Sarah Gregory from Savills. The students then took a bus to the Jewellery Quarter to look at a number of sites. This was followed by an overview presentation by Savills and lunch. Then, back to Oxford.

On the walking tour...Southside.


And Digbeth (the field trip mascot) in Digbeth with David Shiers and Nick French.

For more information about the MSc Real Estate, take a look at the website or the other posts on this blog.

Wednesday, 16 November 2016

Drawing up a Schedule of Dilapidations in Wantage

Students in the second year of the BSc Real Estate Management take a module about the construction and appraisal of real estate which includes a site visit. This year, the students went to look at an industrial unit on the Grove Technology Park in Wantage, Oxfordshire. The unit had recently been leased to the online betting and gaming company, Stan James, who vacated the premises about 8 weeks before our visit. Grove Technology Park was recently bought by the owners of Grove Business Park which is, not surprisingly, just next door.

The students were there to appraise the condition of the industrial unit (inside and outside) and to draw up a Schedule of Dilapidations. Basically a list of what's wrong with the building, or more formally 'a list of outstanding repair and maintenance items for a commercial or residential tenanted building'. The students took lots of photos to support their work and I took a few of them in action...

Stan James still life.

Appraising the inside...

...and noting where repairs are needed.

The spiral staircase.


Looking down on the old screens.

The kitchen area...

...and the bin. Left just as it was.

More detail.

Back downstairs...

...and outside.

Outside detail.

Fire escape. Look carefully and spot the nest underneath the top platform.

And back inside for final checks...
...with the module leader, David Shiers (pointing at the ceiling).

Leaving the building at the end of the trip.

Like what you see? For more information on the BSc Real Estate Management, take a look here. Or take a look around the blog using the labels on the right hand side.