SPR AGM and Annual Dinner 2019, 14 November 2019

More than a hundred SPR members gathered to enjoy this year’s Annual Dinner, held for the third time at the elegant RAC Club in London’s Pall Mall.

Opening the dinner, outgoing SPR Chair Oliver Kummerfeld suggested that these are interesting times for property researchers, given the growing importance of climate change and issues of social cohesion.  These concerns will be crucial for the real estate industry going forward, as well as for Society as a whole.  “Research has an important role to play here in finding answers,” he said, “and I hope the SPR will remain a forum for sharing ideas and giving them a voice.”


After an appetising first course of spinach ravioli and parmesan cream, SPR President Andrew Smith introduced the “not very well-kept secret” of the nomination of Yolande Barnes to be the latest SPR Fellow.  This recognised both of her contribution to property research and to the SPR.  Yolande was on the first committee and organised the very first Annual Dinner, held in the reptile house at London Zoo. Andrew recalled her key contribution as a pioneer in residential research, setting up the leading team in the sector at Savills, where she ultimately went on to take a global and multi-sector role.  Last year she moved to Chair the Bartlett Real Estate Institute at UCL, giving her the opportunity to bring together the roles of academia and business.

Accepting the honour, Yolande suggested that property research has been experiencing profound changes, and that “a group of thinkers have never been more needed than now.” She continued, “As researchers we need to be thinking as broadly as we can about society as well as the economy, about the environment as well as finance. All investing is now impact investing.  And if you think we’ve seen some turmoil and disruption in retail, co-working and leases, you ain’t seen nothing yet.”

Following an excellent main course of roast sirloin of Hereford beef and voluminous Yorkshire pudding, the incoming SPR Chair Tom Duncan introduced himself to the membership, proposing that in a world of rapid change, property researchers can still rely on the SPR to support their interests. In the year to come, the committee will build on its strong foundations to make “incremental gains”, particularly in the area of seminars and social events.


Tom then announced the two SPR Research Prize winners for 2019, with Miranda Cook of prize sponsors Cobalt Recruitment presenting them. The Under-30s prize went to Lawrence Bowles of Savills for his paper entitled The Sky’s the Limit?, which examined the broad range of opportunities available in the UK operational real estate sector, including student housing, build-to-rent and retirement living. The judges commended its balanced analysis and use of original research and ideas.  Placed second was a paper on Trends in European Real Estate Debt by Irene Fosse of AEW.

The Open Category prize was won by Oliver du Sautoy and Matthew Colbourne of Lambert Smith Hampton for their paper Sites, Camera, Action, which looked at the UK film and TV studio real estate market.  This was judged to be an innovative paper on an under-reported sector, an entertaining, illuminating and accessible read based on strong data.  The Flexible Workspace Outlook Report by Damian Harrington of Colliers was pipped at the post.

Accompanying the dessert course of chocolate fondant, the charity raffle once again proved to be a highlight of the evening.  This year’s charity was Catching Lives, an organisation that supports rough sleepers, the homeless and vulnerably housed people in Canterbury and East Kent.  Once again SPR members showed their generosity, donating a total sum of £1,198, no doubt spurred on by the high quality prizes given by a number of real estate firms: Datscha UK, Cushman & Wakefield, PMA, Schroders, Canada Life, Property Overview Ltd, Mayfair Capital, Nuveen Real Estate, Gerald Eve, Avison Young, Colliers International, LaSalle Investment Management, Savills IM, JLL, Oxford Economics and Savills Research.


Special thanks are due to this year’s sponsors of the Annual Dinner. Oxford Economics, who have been long-term supporters of the dinner and many other SPR activities, were joined for the first time by Cambridge Finance, who have been assisted by the Society in developing their training activities.

Tim Horsey