Report on the Conference, 5-7 September 1999, St John's College, University of Cambridge

Structural Survey

ISSN: 0263-080X

Article publication date: 1 March 2000



(2000), "Report on the Conference, 5-7 September 1999, St John's College, University of Cambridge", Structural Survey, Vol. 18 No. 1.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2000, MCB UP Limited

Report on the Conference, 5-7 September 1999, St John's College, University of Cambridge

Report on the Conference, 5-7 September 1999, St John's College, University of Cambridge

With some 85 papers being presented, "The Cutting Edge", the real estate research conference of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, has proved to be a major event for the presentation of the latest real estate research. In 1999 the conference was hosted by The University of Cambridge's Land Economy Department.

Held annually since 1993, this conference has become established as one of the key events world-wide for presenting the latest findings on real estate research, covering:

  • property market analysis;

  • land use planning;

  • the property development process;

  • the performance of the built environment;

  • housing market and finance;

  • pricing and valuation;

  • behavioural real estate decisions;

  • property market modelling and forecasting.

As well as papers presented by the leading real estate researchers from both the UK and overseas, the conference also provided an opportunity for newer researchers, often at doctoral level, to present their work. The topics covered embraced the whole range of issues being faced by the real estate profession, including property market analysis, housing, urban development and regeneration, property finance and investment, as well as developing new themes and ideas on the methods to be adopted for carrying out research into property markets. The use of scenario planning as one approach was discussed and it is hoped that this will feature strongly in "The Cutting Edge" in years to come.

Keynote speakers included Paul Orchard-Lisle, Senior Partner, Healy and Baker; Jon Zehner, Global Head of Real Estate and Lodging Investment Banking, JP Morgan and Co. Inc.; Christine Whitehead OBE, Cambridge University; and Jim Shilling (winner of the Literati Club's Outstanding Paper Award in 1998), University of Wisconsin-Madison, USA. Several Journal of Property Investment & Finance Editorial Board Members, including Practice Briefing Editor Peter Wyatt, also presented papers (Plate 1). Further details of all presented papers can be found on the RICS Web site at

With the launch of the RICS Research Foundation in January 2000, it is hoped that the 2000 "The Cutting Edge" will be even higher profile. Being held in Windsor on 6-7 September, the hope is to make the event the focus for the key thinking on the future nature and direction of the real estate profession and market.

Plate 1Peter Wyatt, Practice Briefing Editor, Journal of Property Investment & Finance, presents his paper to conference delegates

The building of the millennium

The results of a survey conducted among The Cutting Edge delegates to discover what international property experts considered to be "The building of the millennium" was unveiled at the conference. Nominations included the Taj Mahal, the Chrysler Building in New York, Sydney Opera House and King's College, Cambridge (Plate 2). Gaudi's famous cathedral, the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona, was chosen as "The building of the millennium".

Plate 2King's College, Cambridge

Welcome reception

MCB University Press was proud to sponsor The Cutting Edge Welcome Reception (Plates 3-11).

Delegates were joined for the champagne buffet supper by MCB's editorial board members who attended the first Annual Property Symposium held earlier in the day. Members represented the following MCB journals:

  • Journal of Property Investment & Finance.

  • Property Management.

  • Structural Survey.

  • Facilities.

Plate 3Paul Syms (right) editorial board member of Property Management, Paul Syms Associates, Macclesfield, UK chats to a delegate

Plate 4Andrea Watson-Lee, MCB, Mike Hoxley, editor Structural Survey, Staffordshire University, UK, Jan Broöchner, Facilities regional editor, Chalmers University of Technology, Goöteborg, Sweden, and Peter Fall, editorial board member of Structural Survey, Peter Fall Cowie, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK

Plate 5Stephen Brown (second on the right), Head of Research at the RICS and organiser of The Cutting Edge with (from left to right) Edward Finch, editor of Facilities, Nick French, editor of Journal of Property Investment & Finance and Mike Hoxley, editor of Structural Survey.

Plate 6Kanak Patel, University of Cambridge (conference host), Jim Shilling, University of Wisconsin-Madison, and Elaine Worzala, Colorado State University

Plate 7

Plate 8

Plate 9

Plate 10

Plate 11

The Symposium provided a forum for editorial board members to discuss and contribute towards the publishing strategy for the journals with which they are associated for the coming year. The Second Annual Symposium will take place during the RICS, COBRA conference in Greenwich, UK, 31 August-2 September 2000.

After the Welcome Reception delegates were treated to punting on the River Cam (Plate 12).

Plate 12Punting on the River Cam, Cambridge

Key themes at "The Cutting Edge" 1999

New ways of looking at urban redevelopment and regeneration emerged at the conference. Papers relating to issues include the following.

The "greening" of commercial buildings

David Shiers and Colin ElliotThese papers explore the degree to which property (and particularly commercial property) can contribute to environmental sustainability, one of the key themes of the 1990s. They seem to suggest that "green" development can be an actual advantage to occupiers and developers, as well as to society as whole.

Investment decisions being made in London and how they affect the provinces

John HenneberryJohn Henneberry contends that the London-based property investors and developers, while claiming to operate according to rational methods, act in such a way as to deprive the regions of investment finance. This has had the effect of denying regional towns and cities, such as Sheffield, an adequate commercial building stock and so has hampered economic development.

The future of our urban areas

Richard Peiser, Jon Coafee and Simon GuyRichard Peiser's paper looks at the ways in which our urban areas have tended to sprawl and considers that some aspects of this are inevitable, whereas others can and should be mitigated. In the context of the recent report of the Urban Task Force, this is of considerable topicality.

Jon Coafee and Simon Guy's paper looks at the way in which urban areas are divided into what they call "islands of development" which exhibit their own characteristics. Recognising these can be of great value in seeking to draw up strategies for urban redevelopment.

Future housing markets

Nicky Morrison and Jessica McGartyThe papers of Jessica McGarty and Nicky Morrison both look at the issue of how to accommodate the numbers of increased housing that are being projected. Jessica McGarty's considers barriers to using brownfield sites and suggests that the proposed landfill tax is not a great barrier but that there are others, such as the planning system, funding opportunities and uncertainty as to the nature of contamination.

Nicky Morrison's paper looks at the overall picture of how to accommodate housing growth in an already crowded area - Eastern England. Various issues are addressed, such as the lack of recycled sites within urban areas (brownfield sites) and barriers to housing provision in market towns and villages.

To review the above research papers visit The Cutting Edge 1999 Web pages at

The Cutting Edge 2000

The next "The Cutting Edge" real estate research conference will be held on 6-7 September 2000 at the Castle Hotel, Windsor, UK and will be hosted by the Department of Land Management and Development of the University of Reading.

The University of Reading

The Department of Land Management and Development at the University of Reading is one of the leading real estate departments in Europe with research expertise covering the entire spectrum of real estate. Research strengths encompass the operation and analysis of the commercial property market, economic modelling and forecasting, valuation and investment analysis, land use planning, and the development process. The recent UK government research assessment exercise confirmed the status of the department as achieving international excellence in its research output.

The Castle Hotel

The Castle Hotel is located in the centre of historic Windsor, across the road from the Castle itself. Originally a coaching inn favoured by royal visitors the world over, it is now the most prestigious conference venue in Windsor. As well as being the venue for the conference, accommodation for delegates is available at the hotel.

Key features of the conference

In addition to the research paper sessions, there will be a number of special sessions at the conference. These will include:

  • the 2nd Symposium of the International Behavioural Real Estate Research Group. A refereed selection of papers presented will be published in a special issue of Journal of Property Investment & Finance, edited by Deborah Levy of the University of Auckland;

  • a doctoral session for work in progress on real estate PhD work;

  • a special session on the Economic and Social Research Council research programme, "Cities, economic competitiveness and social cohesion";

  • welcome reception hosted by MCB University Press to promote the RICS/MCB University Press Property Research Register

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