The country was divided on 23 June and it’s no surprise that opinions are now divided about life post Brexit.

Brexit road signs

The country was divided on 23 June and it’s no surprise that opinions are now divided about life post Brexit.

The commercial property magazines are full of comment, opinion and speculation. Funds putting a block on redemptions has made commercial property mainstream business news too. Everywhere, there is noise, interest and debate – but so far it’s been a lot more heat and not much light, as they say. No-one has a crystal ball and there are simply too many things moving around at the moment to be certain.

So, for those of us investing in, planning, or taking forward commercial property schemes, how should we assess the situation?

For me, it comes down to whether you’re a glass half full or glass half empty person. I voted to remain – as did many in our industry – but we are where we are. And with all change comes opportunity – so my glass is half full.

Let me tell you why. Firstly, the fundamentals for the property markets remain strong and in place. People need places to live and they need places to work. So the need to plan for and build good quality residential, mixed-use and commercial developments is not going to go away. Access to capital might become more challenging but good schemes will still deliver returns – so any constraining effect may also have a quality control impact which would have benefits. Deals are still being done – there are plenty of examples out there.

Secondly because change stimulates innovation. Our industry – traditional in many ways – is equally hugely pioneering. Once the dust has settled, I expect to see us and companies like us being innovative and showing adaptability, flexibility and ingenuity. Ashfield Land has traded successfully through several cycles and several recessions – and changing and tougher conditions can often sharpen performance in the longer term.

And thirdly because much of what we do has economic criticality. We are building infrastructure, we are building facilities that underpin wider commercial activity, and we are building schemes that are catalysts to economic and business activity. One can’t turn the tap off on this kind of development and expect the nation and the national economy to stay positive. Hence Mark Carney’s level-headed assessment of what the central bank can and will do to support market conditions.

So, for me, there is good reason to balance reflection and instinctive caution in the face of change with optimism and reasons to be positive. Our view is that we are open for business and getting on with doing business.