Build Better

Nick Churton, based at Robert Paul Properties’ London international marketing office, Mayfair International Realty, reflects on the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee celebrations and considers what we have and have not learnt over seventy years of the real estate market.

This June, we celebrate Queen Elizabeth II’s Platinum Jubilee. It is quite a milestone. The Queen is Britain’s longest-ever serving monarch, and it will be a very long time before we celebrate another royal Platinum Jubilee, if we ever do. We will wave flags. Parties will be held in streets that were non-existent when the Queen came to the throne in 1952 – and parties in streets that did exist. We will applaud the second transformative Elizabethan age – after all, the first Queen Elizabeth did a pretty good job in laying the foundations of a great empire.

When Queen Elizabeth II came to the throne, cities throughout the UK were still heavily pockmarked from Second World War bombs. These had rained down the sort of death and destruction on civilians that the poor people of Ukraine are experiencing today. Nothing, it seems changes, just the aggressor and location.

After the war, Britain had to rebuild. Along with her subjects, the Queen saw the giant strides made in materials, technology, and infrastructure that have come to play a vital part in where and how we live today. But throughout the Queen’s reign, successive UK governments failed to manage the housing sector well – and this situation seems to have happened in other countries too.

In the UK today, there are too many under-insulated homes and too few new houses to satisfy demand. Now the chickens have come home to roost, however, as unforeseen interest rate rises and increasing energy costs expose decades of underperformance in the housing sector.

A recent political slogan used in the UK is Build Back Better. We should build better: we should build better eco-friendly houses, more housing for the rental sector and better social housing for the less well off.

We celebrate and salute the seventy-year reign of a remarkable woman who has hardly put a foot wrong in a lifetime dedicated to duty and service. The Queen is an inspiration and an example to all those who aspire to lead. Let’s hope our future planners, politicians and lawmakers take heed and build better over the next seventy years.

Predicting the Present