Thursday, 6 July 2017

School of the Built Environment Graduation 2017

Graduation 2017 took place on one of the hottest days of the year, Monday 19 June. The actual ceremony took place in a transformed sports centre and the reception in the beautiful grounds of Headington Hill Hall. Which meant that the students and staff had to walk across Headington Hill Bridge...and I was there to catch them.



School of the Built Environment staff outside the sports centre

Waiting on the bridge...

...the students...



...and staff.























And in the grounds of Headington Hill Hall...

...celebrating



...the paparazzi



Prizes being handed out by (a very hot) Professor Joe Tah (Head of School)

Where's everybody gone? Retreating into the shade as the day got hotter...


Now that you've graduated, don't forget to keep in touch. Join one of our alumni groups on LinkedIn/Facebook...a great way of keeping in touch with your mates and the School of the Built Environment at Oxford Brookes. We use our groups to post job opportunities, source mentors (for the Real Estate Mentoring Scheme), share news and to use your experiences to inform our course development, so make sure you join!

LinkedIn: Real Estate Management
LinkedIn: Construction, QS and Project Management
Facebook: Planning and Urban Design

Finally, for a full set of photos, take a look at the Graduation and Prizes 2017 album on the School of the Built Environment Facebook page.




Monday, 26 June 2017

MSc Real Estate...Mock Planning Inquiry 2017

The MSc Real Estate students took part in a Mock Planning Inquiry (MPI) at the end of April as part of the module on UK Planning & Development. Dr Mike Stubbs set up the 2017 MPI with barristers from Six Pump Court Inner Temple (The Chambers of Stephen Hockman QC). For more information about planning inquiries and how they operate take at look at these guidelines from the Planning Inspectorate.

The MSc students divided into two groups to prepare their evidence and decide who would represent the group in the MPI:

  • The Local Planning Authority (the Defendant)
  • The Developer (the Appellant)
  • The Expert Witness

The students were joined by three guest lecturers: two barristers from Six Pump Court Inner Temple (specialists in planning law) and a former and senior planning inspector. The guest lecturers took on the roles of Planning Inspector, Counsel for the Planning Authority  and Counsel for the Appellant. The Planning Inspector chaired the Inquiry. The case involved the development of 21 flats within a conservation area in the Finchley Road and Frognal area of NW3 (London Borough of Camden).

The Planning Inspector heard evidence from the parties. There was some heated questioning about the design, use and location of the building and some very specific questions concerning the requirements for development here when considered against the alternatives. Mike Patrick also attended and took some photos of the action...
















More information about the MSc Real Estate is available here.



Sunday, 18 June 2017

MSc Real Estate: Athens 2017



Each year the students on the MSc Real Estate take part in a study visit to Europe which allows them to find out more about the operation of land and property markets in a different institutional context from that found in the UK. This year (on 21-26 May) the students (and staff) went to Athens, the capital city of Greece and one of the oldest cities in the world. There's a great section about Athens (and its history) on the Rough Guides website. And a section on Modern Athens on the Why Athens website. Finally, click here for some background information on the property market in Athens (and Greece).

As part of the study visit, the students were given a project to work on...the aim of which is to integrate a range of core property skills that the students have acquired during the MSc Real Estate in order to address a professional project brief. The students looked at the retail, office and hotel markets in and around Athens and were asked to submit a group report before the trip and a further short report (on the last day of the trip) about their understanding of the real estate market in Athens. During the study visit, the students were able to build on their knowledge through a series of city tours and presentations by local experts. Thanks to all the students and staff for the great photos.

And so, onto the main themes of the field trip (in some kind of order):


The Journey ft. Nick, Andressa and PJ (the staff) and the Students

The Group Meals:
Stanley Hotel Rooftop Restaurant, Jimmy Fish Harbourside Restaurant, Barsolino Bar and Stamatopoulos Tavern

The Walking Tour


The Local Expert Presentations ft. Aris Karytinos, Thomas Ziogas, Alexander Manos, Tassos Karagnis, Nick Chatzitsolis, Paula Booras and Adamantia Phoca...for details of subjects see below...

  • The Greek REIT Market, by Aris Karytinos, Chief Executive Office, NBG PANGAEA REIT
  • The Commercial Triangle of Athens Historic City Centre, by Thomas Ziogas MRICS, Senior Partner at NAI Hellas 
  • Property Tax Reform, by Alexander Manos, Advisor to the Board of Piraeus Bank
  • Real Estate Market Structure in Greece, by Antonis Rovolis, Panteion University
  • Mass Appraisals and Statistical Evidence in the Greek Real Estate Market, by Tassos Karaganis, Panteion University
  • The Greek Real Estate Market and the Chartered Surveyor, by Nick Chatzitsolis, Managing Director, CBRE Valuation
  • Retail in Athens, by Paula Booras, Retail, Hospitality and Real Estate Professional
  • Hotels and Hospitality in Athens and Greece, by Adamantia Phoca, Director, Hotels and Special Assets, Axies and CBRE


Sightseeing in Athens

The Staff: PJ, Andressa and Nick


The Group Photos (back in Oxford) and finally...

Nick's Special Prizes. 

For more information on the MSc Real Estate and its three pathways, take a look here:

MSc Real Estate



Monday, 15 May 2017

Professor Nick French talks...

Nick French (Professor in Real Estate at Oxford Brookes University) has been talking a bit more than usual recently...

Nick French (3rd from left) being introduced by Thomas Ziogas from NEI Hellas

On 10 April, Nick gave a CPD presentation to the RICS Hellas in Athens...he was in Athens researching the MSc Real Estate field trip which will take place towards the end of May. The talk, entitled 'Valuing In Uncertain Times – Property and the Economy', focused on Real Estate and Brexit from a UK/London and European perspective:
  • the Economics of debt - UK and European and World debt
  • the UK after the Financial Economic Crisis (FEC) and BREXIT
  • what is market value in a volatile world?
  • acknowledging uncertainty in valuations - RICS guidance

Nick in action

The presentation was followed by a round table discussion with local professionals. Paula Booras, Board Member of RICS Hellas said: 'We thank Nick for supporting our RICS Hellas CPD event in Greece. He is a remarkable speaker with a great sense of humor which surely captivates his audience every time.'

Next stop, the Property Recruitment Forum to present an 'Introduction to Property' session for HR staff working in the property industry. The event was held on 3 May 2017 at Savills on Margaret Street in London, and included the following topics:

  • The Property Cycle
  • Economics made simple
  • Valuation and Pricing 
  • Legal and Planning Framework
  • Property Management

What's next for Nick? He's taking the MSc Real Estate students (and a few members of staff) to Athens next week for the annual European Field Trip. Report and (plenty of) photos to follow.





Tuesday, 9 May 2017

Knight Frank Development Project Prize 2017

Adrian Wilson (left) with Robbie Clarke, Hugo Bland and Max Hulse (right)

Once again, OBREMS (our alumni society), with the support of Knight Frank, have rewarded the efforts of three third year undergraduate students on the BSc Real Estate Management. The prizes were based on performance in their Development Project. 

First prize (£250 and an internship at Knight Frank) went to Robbie Clarke
Second prize (£175) was awarded to Hugo Bland and the third prize (£75) went to Max Hulse.

This year, the Development Project was a feasibility study of two logistics units at Daventry International Rail Freight Terminal (DIRFT). This site is being used as a case study for all final year modules (take a look at the blog post on DIRFT here). The students were required to undertake a market analysis of the scheme and determine the land value and potential funding options of the site using current market parameters. Their recommendations were contained in a full report of the scheme.

DIRFT - the location for the Development Project

The winning team produced a joint report and then each gave a short presentation to the awarding committee. The committee comprised: Adrian Wilson (Head of Development, Knight Frank), Rebecca Gee (BSc REM Subject Coordinator, Oxford Brookes) and Nick French (Professor in Real Estate, Oxford Brookes).






Thursday, 27 April 2017

The UGs go to Birmingham...

The second year undergraduate students in the School of the Built Environment (Real Estate, Construction and Planning/Urban Design) joined together for the February 2017 field trip to Birmingham. The trip is part of the second year integrative project module, a module which gives students the opportunity to integrate the knowledge and experience that they have already gained during the first two years by completing and presenting a group project. For the Birmingham field trip project, students will be working together in small groups to produce a workable proposal that will be presented to a panel of judges (much like in real life). Each group consists of a mix of students (and skills) from across Real Estate, Construction and Planning/Urban Design. Click on the links for more information...especially the Warwick Bar link which has loads of information about this very interesting area.

The location of the development site for the project is Warwick Bar, situated in the Digbeth area of Birmingham. Warwick Bar is situated in a conservation area and lies ten minutes walk to the east of Birmingham city centre. Surrounded on three sides by the historic Grand Union Canal, Digbeth Branch Canal and the River Rea, the area was home to a complex of factories and workshops and is now being redeveloped to provide accommodation for a rich mix of heavy industry to arts and service sector agencies. The overall aim of the student project is to identify a new long term use for the site taking into consideration potential changes to the area brought about by the HS2 development and taking into account the Birmingham Big City Plan.

The day started with a series of presentations about the developments taking place in Birmingham and continued with the walk through Warwick Bar. Photos by George Blumberg (thanks George)...





Then back to Oxford Brookes to start work on the development projects. Students from the following courses attended the field trip - to find out more about any of the courses, click on the course:

BSc Construction Project Management
BSc Quantity Surveying and Commercial Management
BSc Real Estate Management
BA Urban Design, Planning and Development


Wednesday, 26 April 2017

Spring 2017 Field Trips: Residential Real Estate in Exeter and London

The students on the MSc Real Estate went on a couple of field trips recently that had a residential flavour. Read on and click on the red links for more information.

Presentations on the Cranbrook development (photos by Harry Silcock)

In March, the students went on a field trip to the Cranbrook development that is taking shape near Exeter. Cranbrook is a new town being developed in East Devon, initially consisting of 2,900 residential properties, built to the highest code for sustainable homes with the aim of becoming a trailblazer for low carbon mass open market housing developments. The visit focused on the sustainable aspects of the development as well as the task of building a community from scratch and included presentations and discussions from the Chief Executive and Growth Director at Exeter City (Karime Hassan) and the Project Manager for Cranbrook (Mike Owen). After lunch the students were take on a tour of the Energy Centre and of the public areas within the development. Find out what the residents think of their community in the fourth annual community poll of residents.

On the second field trip (in April) the students went to London to explore East Village, the residential development based in the Athlete's Village at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park and to see the redevelopment of Covent Garden.

First stop was East Village and the HQ of Get Living London to find out more about the way they (Get Living London) are developing and managing the properties (1400 rental properties). The students listened to an excellent presentation from Emily Alexander from Get Living London before taking a guided tour of the (vast) site and one of the rental properties. And now for some photos (by the Ed unless otherwise mentioned)...

The view from the flat we visited (photo by Harriet Cowcher)

At Get Living London HQ (spot the bird boxes)
Mace are constructing the first building of the second phase of East Village under cover to
minimise disturbance to existing residents

On tour. East Village is huge (and still expanding).

Inside one of the flats (10 floors up)

Shops, parks and Westfield (where we had lunch)

After lunch (and finding the coach) the students set out on a slow road trip across London to Covent Garden. On arrival at the offices of Capco the students listened to a presentation from Andrew Hicks (Estate Director for Covent Garden) on the development and vision for the area and asked lots of questions. Andrew and his team (which included an alumni from the BSc REM at Oxford Brookes) then took the students on a guided tour of Covent Garden...photos follow:

Presentation from Andrew Hicks (Capco) and the model of Covent Garden

The MSc students reflected in Reflect London the art installation which wraps 32,000 square feet of mirrors around the eastern fa├žade of the market building to hide the restoration work taking place. 

On tour...

...around Covent Garden with Andrew Hicks from Capco

The street entertainers are still a big feature of Covent Garden

Now that you've reached the end, you might want more information on the MSc Real Estate at Oxford Brookes. Find it on the blog or on our website.