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Alex Chitty property developer TYOK
Jamie Lau

Things you only know if you’re a property developer

James FitzGerald

…according to Alex Chitty, 28.

Development is inevitable – the issue is how you do it

I’m not naive. I know big, bad, horrible developers exist. But I’d never work for a firm that doesn’t properly listen to local people or believe in creating something bigger and better for London. For me, that’s the key thing: change is going to happen, but it’s got to be positive. You might say we’ve lost some cultural venues to Crossrail. I’d say: just look at the opportunities it’s bringing along too.

New policies are bringing more affordable housing

My company, Landsec, doesn’t do much residential – but so many residential developers consider nothing but profit, even though we need more affordable housing. In previous times, developers were able to pay instead of physically providing affordable homes. Now developers can’t pay it off: you have to actually provide the housing. Sadiq Khan has strong policies about it.’

Forget building upwards – it’s downwards that’s hard work

I’m working on the new Deutsche Bank headquarters in the City. We can’t put in a basement or we’ll collide with two tube stations. There’s a huge ventilation shaft and a couple of sewers to worry about too. That’s just how it is in London. Sometimes we find secret tunnels, and are told we don’t need to know what they’re for.

Developers don’t just want to build, build, build

The summer heatwave made me want more open spaces and pedestrian-only areas. I’d actually be happy if London had fewer buildings, provided they work harder and are more efficient. Think about the City: two days a week, it’s a ghost town. But thanks to modern, flexible work habits, an office no longer needs to be just an office.

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