Senior consultant Joe Mitton analyses the results of PLMR’s exclusive polling on the property sector covering both foreign investment and views on development in the greenbelt.

It’s not bread and circuses, but houses and medicines that the British people want. Or rather, houses and jobs in medicine. PLMR commissioned exclusive polling from Censuswide pollsters, ahead of our largest ever participation at MIPIM, the global property event in Cannes, France.

We reached out to groups of 1000 UK residents, from every region and in every age bracket, to ask them what they thought about foreign investment in the UK property market, which areas of UK property development need foreign investment most urgently and what they thought of development in the greenbelt.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, housing was top of the list for property investment – 42 percent of people saw this as the top priority for foreign capital. (There was an interesting difference though between men and women; 38 percent of men saw housing as a priority, but for women the figure was over 47 percent).

In another sample, over 53% of respondents said they would support development in the greenbelt to provide new homes. This figure grew to 78.5% when asked if they would support new homes on a previously developed Green Belt site – which could include existing homes, agricultural buildings, warehouses, car parking or airstrips. Not what the media headlines would tend to have you believe.
People aged between 25 and 34 years old were most in favour of housing investment and homes in the greenbelt – I can’t imagine why! Of those questioned as part of the survey, 67.2% would support the development of new homes in the Green Belt – compared with only 39.4% of over 55s.
As the Government attempts to facilitate the delivery of 300,000 new homes per year, national and local government faces increasing pressure to release more land for development. If politicians and policy-makers thought greenbelt release was a less toxic issue it would almost undoubtedly be an easier proposition to discuss.
The next clear priority for foreign investment was for investment in science parks and laboratories – almost 20 percent of people prioritised this. Every region and every age bracket recorded double-digit percentages for science real estate. Compare that with just 10 percent of people calling for more investment in retail space and just 6 percent wanting investment in office space.

Finally, a startling number of people said the UK needed no foreign investment in its property sector whatsoever. Over 20 percent of people answered in this way. And no, it was not just young Corbynistas rejecting the idea of foreign capital. The under 25s were the least likely to answer in this way. The older people get, the more likely they are to reject foreign investment in British property. Almost 40 percent of the over 55s rejected it.

As a political analyst with an eye on the next election (in 2022, or most likely sooner), that interests me. The sentiment against global capital is widespread across all age groups and all regions in the UK and sentiment towards domestic development is shifting. Political parties should find that interesting, too.

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