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Regional city development remains broadly resilient

Belfast, Birmingham, Leeds and Manchester have defied market challenges after delivering nearly 2.5 million sq ft of office space in 2020, a rise of over 547,000 sq ft more than 2019, according to Deloitte’s Regional Crane Survey.

The Crane Survey, which monitors construction activity across a range of sectors including offices, residential, hotels, retail, education and student housing, shows that a further 3.61 million sq ft of office space is currently under construction across the quartet of cities. Residential delivery increased nearly 67%, rising by 3,290 to 8,197 new homes completed in 2020. A further 18,912 residential properties are currently under development in the four cities.

The cities have delivered 5,405 student bed spaces in city centres, with a further 3,485 in development as universities and private student accommodation providers continue to invest in both teaching accommodation and student housing.

Simon Bedford, partner and regional head at Deloitte Real Estate, commented: “Regional office construction was strong in 2020, despite some delays in construction caused by lockdowns. The office pipeline has softened somewhat, as developers take a ‘wait and see’ approach to future demand.”

Deloitte’s research indicates the shift to home-working could change how businesses use office space in the future, which, in turn, could influence how local residential areas are used. This could potentially shape the role of neighbourhood set-ups to create more diversity within local centres.

Bedford said: “Our latest CFO survey showed that home-working is predicted to increase five-fold by 2025. The role of the office could flex to meet shifting demands for collaborative and creative space, as organisations revaluate their needs.

“Looking at residential, there’s a major focus for new developments to provide outdoor space and community facilities. This reflects a growing trend towards small-scale retail and leisure offerings as part of wider mixed-use developments, helping to create neighbourhoods and foster a sense of community. In turn, this could have a positive knock-on effect for the high street. For example, our future of the high street research suggests an increased focus on localism and a greater level of commitment to small independent businesses that can easily identify the origin of their goods. Therefore, all things considered, 2020 will be one of the stronger years in overall terms and points towards the ongoing renaissance of our major UK cities.”

Daniel Barlow, managing partner for regional markets at Deloitte, added: “There are real signs of recovery and resilience across the UK, and it’s incumbent on us all to maintain momentum to ensure that all cities, towns and villages level up.”

Kate Stonestreet Appointed Global Chief Operating Officer

Baker McKenzie is delighted to announce the appointment of Kate Stonestreet as our new Global Chief Operating Officer. In her new role, Kate will report to our Global Chair Milton Cheng, and will oversee all of the business services functions of the Firm, as well as the Firm’s internal business services transformation project which aims to deliver higher quality service to our internal and external clients in a streamlined and tech-enabled way.

Kate will work alongside the Global Chair and Executive Committee on the implementation of Firm strategy, with a key focus on our clients and our people. This will leverage the Firm’s global footprint and the investments we have made in innovation and sustainability to reinforce our leading position as a diverse and inclusive workplace committed to our clients, people and the communities in which we work.

She will take up her new position with effect from 1 February 2021 and will remain based in London.

Since 2017, Kate has been the Firm’s Global Director of Operations with responsibility for the strategic oversight of our Centers in Manila, Belfast, Buenos Aires and Tampa, and as part of the leadership team overseeing the development and implementation of the Firm’s business services transformation program.

Prior to assuming her current role Kate spent 13 years as the EMEA Regional Operating Officer (ROO) supporting our EMEA leadership, working with Managing Partners and leading the regional business professional teams. During her time as EMEA ROO, she was instrumental in the new office openings in Casablanca, Dubai, Istanbul and Johannesburg.

Prior to her EMEA role, Kate held a variety of positions within the Firm including COO for HK/PRC/Vietnam and Director of Business Development for Asia Pacific. She joined the Firm in Hong Kong in 1995 and has been based in London since 2004.

Kate earned her BA Hons degree in Public Policy and Administration from the University of Northumbria and her MBA from the University of Western Ontario (Toronto), Hong Kong campus. She is a member of our Global Diversity & Inclusion Committee and our Global Race & Ethnicity Task Force, and co-leads the Firm’s social mobility program.

Kate said, “Coming from a small village in Yorkshire in the North of England and joining the Firm in a relatively junior role in Hong Kong, I am a story of what is possible at Baker McKenzie. As a Firm we are in a strong position as we emerge from the pandemic – with loyal clients, connected global teams, and the drive to excel. This is an exciting time, and we face both opportunities and challenges as we emerge from the crisis, but I believe we are strongly positioned for the future and I look forward to playing a central role in ensuring our future success.”

Milton said, “Throughout her career with the Firm Kate has been an inspiring leader and a highly effective professional. Having known her for more than 20 years I can say with assurance that I know she represents the very best of Baker McKenzie. I look forward to working even more closely with Kate in the coming months and years to drive our global Firm strategy forward.”

Baker McKenzie law firm to create 150 jobs in Belfast

GLOBAL law firm Baker McKenzie is to create 150 new jobs in Belfast as part of major expansion plans.

The legal company, who first opened in the city back in 2014, has entered into an agreement with Belfast Harbour Commissioners to take additional office space in the City Quays development. The deal will see Baker McKenzie lease a floor in City Quays 2, a move which will see staff numbers in Northern Ireland grow from just under 300 to 450.

The expansion also allows the legal firm to develop and grow the services it currently provides in Belfast.

Baker McKenzie was the first tenant to move to grade A office space within City Quays 1 in June 2015, but is now nearing capacity in its existing premises.

Since setting up in late 2014 the Belfast office, one of 77 around the world, has grown rapidly and now provides over 30 legal and business services, including finance, corporate support, marketing and IT.

Executive director at Baker McKenzie, James Richards said the expansion underlines the firm’s commitment to Belfast and Northern Ireland.

“The growth of our Belfast office has been a remarkable success story which would not have been possible without the exceptional pool of talent here from both legal and business backgrounds, which has allowed us to create highly skilled and specialised opportunities in Northern Ireland.”

“Our lawyers and professional staff around the globe have been really impressed at what we have created in Belfast and we have become a major innovation hub for the firm. We have introduced a number of initiatives here that are not only benefitting our clients but have a direct impact on our financial performance,” he added.

Belfast Harbour CEO, Joe O’Neill believes Baker McKenzie’s expansion in the city is testament to the offering provided in the City Quays development.

“Cementing our relationship even further with Baker McKenzie and facilitating their ability to grow is something which makes us very proud,” he said.

“City Quays 2 is Belfast Harbour’s response to ongoing demand by inward investors and indigenous firms for new Grade A office space in Belfast. The development has already established itself as the preferred destination for local and international business leaders and Baker McKenzie’s decision to expand into City Quays 2 is a clear testament to the quality of the space provided, its location for business and the infrastructure around it.”