Thames Valley: The arrival of the Thames Valley Property Awards

It is a venue well used to winners, but Ascot Racecourse saw winners of a two-legged variety when it staged the inaugural Thames Valley Property Awards last night.

Deserved winners walked off proudly from the stage, watched by their property sector peers and client-guests, as talent, performance and developments came to the fore at a memorable occasion destined to become a must-attend annual event.

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With growth being experienced in the property sector,it was an appropriate time to celebrate the birth of the Thames Valley Property Awards, said Matthew Battle, director of UK Property Forums and David Murray publisher of The Business Magazine, as they welcomed 340 diners to the black-tie gala event.

“We are delighted to be teaming up with UK Property Forums to bring you this inaugural awards night – an event that flies the flag for this great region of ours. The calibre of nominations shows just what talent exists in the Thames Valley,” said Murray, before Battle revealed data supporting that ‘great region’ accolade.

Last year, the Thames Valley property sector experienced a strong recovery with office take-up increasing by 64% year-on-year to a total of 2.32 million sq ft – the most since 2007.

“Interestingly, this growth was the result of the return of occupier growth rather than lease-event driven take-up. In other words, more demand and more inward investment,” Battle stated.

“On top of this, we are seeing the return of speculative development, always a sign that things are on the up.”

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With the value of Thames Valley investment transactions during Q1 2014 totalling nearly £125m – a significant increase on Q1 2013 at under £80m – 2014 shows every sign of being even better than last year, Battle suggested.

In recent years, the Thames Valley Property Forum, held annually at Ascot Racecourse, had successfully grown in status, Murray pointed out. With The Business Magazine established as the leading business publication for the region and already staging other business awards, it was natural to partner UKPF and create The Thames Valley Property Awards.

However, the awards would not have drawn breath without the support of key sponsors, and Murray and Battle thanked Barton Willmore, Handelsbanken, Haslams, Hicks Baker, Jansons Property, Jelf, Optima, Pitmans, SEGRO, and Vail Williams. Thanks too went to the judging panel for their professional skills and knowledge in selecting the finalists and winners.

One sure winner was always going to be the Alexander Devine Children’s Hospice Service, selected as the event’s charity partner and currently raising funds to build Berkshire’s first purpose-designed children’s hospice at Maidenhead.

Property sector guests showed their generosity through donations and an auction for a London Irish hospitality package boosted fundraising by £1,000 thanks to a winning bid from ISG. ‘Exiles’ hooker and England rugby international David Paice was on hand to help announce charitable support totaling £5,487.

Guest presenter for the evening was Jeremy Vine, no stranger to hosting prime-time radio and television shows like Eggheads and Points of View, nor as a mainstay on the BBC’s election night coverage to the revelation of winning results.