With the countdown to Brexit quickly ticking away, Business Link Magazine invites a select number of the region’s business leaders to offer their thoughts.

Here we talk with James Butcher, Director of Lincoln-based Chartered Surveyors Banks Long & Co.

Like a lot of business people, I had hoped that by now we might have had a better idea as to what our future relationship with the EU would look like – but with all the Political ‘shenanigans’ going on in Westminster, an agreement on this new relationship does not seem much closer now than it did in June 2016 when the result of the referendum was first announced.

This uncertainty is undoubtably having an impact on the property market, but despite this as is often the case, the market in Lincoln and the surrounding area continues to ‘weather the storm’ better than other parts of the Country.

The city has not been immune from the troubles affecting retail and leisure occupiers nationwide during 2018, with a number of high profile CVA’s (Company Voluntary Arrangements) involving BHS, Toys R Us and Handmade Burger Company to name a few, which has sadly resulted in stores closing in the city.

However, the number of cranes peppering the city skyline is a testament to the real development which is taking place. The City is in a good place compared to some of its regional neighbours – clear and positive direction from the Local Authority on new development, a thriving and expanding University, growing tourist numbers and, setting new standards on a national scale, the Cornhill Quarter is bucking the doom and gloom in the shopping and leisure sector, attracting both national and independent names to the city centre. Occupiers are competing for new space in the Cornhill Quarter – a situation not being seen in many other City’s around the UK.

All of this bodes well for 2019 and there are a number of new developments planned in the city and surrounding area, which should allow Lincoln to ride out the pressures being brought to bear by events outside of our day- to-day control.

At Network 46, a new industrial/employment development located on the A46, 10 miles south west of Lincoln, the two speculative warehouses being built by St Modwen totalling over 95,000 sq.ft. are due for completion in 2019 and have already generated strong interest from notable businesses.

Phase 3 of the Cornhill Quarter development will start on site in January 2019 which will see the creation of a new major public square and the construction of a landmark building anchored by a 4-screen Everyman cinema.

New student developments, such as Valentine Court adjacent to Valentine Retail Park, will be completed in time for September 2019 to accommodate the growing number of students.

Phase 2 of Lincoln Science and Innovation Park will be progressed during the year following the success of Boole Technology Centre.

Plans for the Western Growth Corridor will, I am sure, continue to move forward allowing the city to expand and attract more inward investment.

Therefore, despite the uncertainty created by the current Brexit stalemate, with continued vision and co-operation between the main public and private stakeholders, we see the future as being really bright for Lincoln during 2019, as we continue to out-perform our larger regional neighbours.”