Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Copyright © 1998, MCB UP Limited
There are an increasing number of sites on the Internet set up to provide information on specific property developments. These sites vary from the mainly PR type site, such as the Jubilee Line Extension site (http://www.jle. lul.co.uk), to those offering full commercial information including vacant lots, rental levels and lease details.
One of the more comprehensive sites is that of Milton Park which can be found at http://www.miltonpark.co.uk. This site is visually very pleasing being simple in design and easy to navigate. Visitors are offered a virtual tour of the Park via a series of automatically updated photographs and there is a directory of tenants which can be searched either by company name or business type. The site also includes full details of the units to let on the site; there is a photograph of each unit and information on individual unit rates and services as well as rent. The "Info" section gives information on all aspects of the Park from how to get there, to the telephone number of the mobile sandwich service and, if that isn't enough information, there is also an e-mailable request form for a brochure.
The Docklands home page Destination Docklands is primarily a PR site but includes useful data for anyone wanting background information on the development The "Docklands Tour" is particularly useful in this respect, offering an overview and then fuller details on each of the five areas of the Docklands. The area details include benchmark retail and office rents. The URL of the home page is http://www.docklands.co.uk. The site is colourful but not cluttered and integrates photographs and text in an attractive way.
The Victoria Shopping Centre in Harrogate http://www.harrogate.com/ victoria is a good example of a retail development on the Internet. The Centre is undergoing refurbishment and is using its Internet presence to show what it can offer to potential tenants. The site gives information on the catchment population, including consumer expenditure profiles. It also includes details of new signage and car parking facilities, together with photographs of the inside and outside of the Centre. There are also complete floor plans of each level showing existing tenants and vacant units. The only information that is missing, which would be very useful to potential tenants, is rental levels and/or lease details.
On a much larger scale is the site for the Meadowhall Shopping Centre in Sheffield ( http://www.meadowhall.co.uk). Despite the resources that have obviously gone in to developing this site I found it singularly lacking in information. It is primarily designed as an information site for the general public and not for potential tenants. However, as a member of the general public, I found the site cluttered, with an overuse of garish backgrounds and poor quality photographs. An over-reliance on frames and QuickTime movies and virtual reality panoramas mean that much of the site is only accessible to people with the most up-to-date hardware. There is a Contacts page with e-mailable forms that allow you to contact the Centre Manager and the Letting Agent with "trade enquiries" but there is no access to any on-line information on vacancies or rental levels.
A similar PR project for the White Rose Shopping Centre on the outskirts of Leeds, http://www.white-rose.co.uk , is a less cluttered design although some of the text seemed out of focus to me. The information is clearly laid out and the site is very easy to navigate. As a potential customer I think I could find all I needed to know quickly and easily. For a potential occupier however there is, again, no access to business level information. There is an e-mail address at the bottom of each page and I assume that enquiries from potential occupiers would be forwarded to the relevant person.
It is not often that I offer unreserved praise for anything but I have recently received a publication from the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors which deserves such an accolade. This is the publication World Wide Web Sites for Chartered Surveyors produced by Cathy Linacre of the RICS Library. The copy I received is the second edition which was published in September 1997.Ms Linacre also writes a column in Chartered Surveyor Monthly in which she updates this directory as appropriate.
The directory is supplied in a hard copy and a disk version for the (excellent value) price of £15.00 for the two. To order, contact Ms Linacre at the RICS(e-mail: email@example.com).
The hard copy is divided into 28 main headings, from Arbitration to Transport, plus additional sections on Surveyors on the Web and Property Listing Sites. Each listing gives the name of the site, its full URL and a brief review. Each section is also fully cross-referenced. So, for example, under Taxation, there are full details of the HM Customs and Excise and the Inland Revenue sites and cross-references to Accountants Thru [sic] Internet, Budget Information and HM Treasury sites.
Whilst the hard copy directory is a useful resource, the really useful research tool is the disk which is supplied with the directory. Not only does the disk contain all the information found in the hard copy but also has a "guide to the Internet for chartered surveyors". This "explains some of the history of the Internet, what it's all about, and what the benefits are for chartered surveyors." This guide includes information on the hardware and software you need to get connected to the Internet, names and contact details for some of the major service providers and a section explaining the jargon. The Site Listings section details the same sites as the hard copy directory, together with the reviews, but here the links are live. In other words, instead of having to type in the URLs yourself you just click on any site heading that seems relevant and you are taken directly to that site.
The disk also has details of the code of practice for chartered surveyors intending to advertise property on the Internet, "Agency on the Internet", which has been prepared by the RICS Agency Practice Panel. The stated aims of this code of practice are to set minimum standards for the property advertising services, to clarify how the codes of practice for traditional agency work when applied on the Internet, and to fill any gaps not covered by existing codes of practice.
This publication is an excellent starting point for anyone considering getting connected to the Internet and for surveyors wanting to mount their own Home Page. I would consider it to be a very effective reference resource for all information centres and libraries, property and property-related companies and a useful tool for anyone with even a passing interest in property.
Scarlett PalmerThe Department of Land Management and Development,University of ReadingE-mail: S.firstname.lastname@example.org