The property developer

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'Cigar-chomping is the stereotype. This is true but untrue - when you work in a quasi-public realm, as we inevitably do, you can't just chomp cigars.' 'The other [stereotype] is fat cat developer, brash, knock up stuff quickly. They do not pay attention. They want to make money as quickly as possible.' 'They do make money when it works - but many fail - property development is vulnerable.' 'Many people working in the public sector think they are non-elected interlopers without a mandate who want to introduce hamburger joints. They're rapacious capitalists who would concrete over the city. And in reverse developers think planners are overly bureaucratic, hindering development, unable to make a decision... The community sector is seen [by property developers] as wanting handouts and not understanding the needs of business; they have a halo, sitting there cross-legged with a begging bowl.' 'The development industry has many layers. There are the traditionals - the PLCs. They make a point that they care, they genuinely want to do their best. They see themselves as having a duty to shareholders, they take trouble to build an environment that is as good and creative as possible.' 'But whether property developers are using property for the social good - that's nearly incomprehensible. Whether their public spirit extends or whether they would do loss leaders that depends. They might as long as it was consistent with making a profit.' 'The same goes for sustainability, you have to take it seriously as part of managing risk. Developers are not trying to save the world, but take it into account in order to run their business well.' 'Urban Catalyst or Urban Splash, they are another category who have managed to combine various goals.' 'They're not doing philanthropy.' 'They're clever at spotting an opportunity. Genuine care is not enough - you have to understand how you can play in these complicated markets.' 'There remains a strong element where property is just a financial play, a commodity. Someone I know makes a point of never looking at the property he pays for: these folks do our image no good.' 'The essence of property development is about supply and demand, where the product is an office or housing. You're only successful in property if people use your building. It has to be customer-focused. Property developers are like manufacturing shopkeepers. You respond to what goes off the shelf. They're not intrinsically interested in cities - that's why we need to get them to appreciate cities, because in the longer run it's to their benefit.' 'Developers are a derivation from a surveyor - where you really need to understand values and how to create values. Your penalty for failing to understand economic value is bankruptcy.' 'In a way, property development is not a profession like surveying. It's about responding to and suiting the moment.' 'Whilst they are seen as money-grabbing, vulgar and exploiting, many developers see themselves as saving the world.' 'Some are trying to reconsider what they do, less as builders of development and more as facilitators of opportunity. This means they have to learn new skills like getting stakeholders together or consulting people.' 'In any case, the big developments are very complex; you have to bring together teams where the economic development people play a key role.' 'To make our developments work and bring people together, our community wants a good, strong, transparent and fair planning system.'

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