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Making land and real estate assets work harder for a fairer society

Public bodies are increasingly concerned with fiscal decentralisation, the impact this has on devolution of government powers, and the administration of policy and business priorities. One area where these trends have a major impact is on the value of land and real estate, as the relative worth and utility of both gives public bodies potential access to bigger budgets, enabling them to better fund public welfare needs, infrastructure projects and support economic growth. Complimentary research by Dr Kevin Muldoon-Smith and Dr Paul Greenhalgh inform the project, ‘Modelling Urban Finance and 21st Century Real Estate Markets’, which is informing public bodies how they can gain from better understanding the relative characteristics and performance of local property markets.

The pair are also advising the UK Government how activities in this vein – such as the Business Rate Retention Scheme (BRRS) – could potentially have negative impacts, spurring spatial inequality and underdevelopment in parts of cities most in need of investment. As such, Drs Muldoon-Smith and Greenhalgh are applying their expertise in real estate to help public systems realise positive impacts from a deeper relationship with real estate markets, while also guarding against causing inequality and harm in society.

They have produced dozens of research papers and informal contributions regarding public finance, property tax, urban planning, devolution and governance, regional development and adaptive re-use. They have also contributed to several government consultations on these topics. In fact, Dr Muldoon-Smith was an invited expert witness to present verbal evidence to the House of Commons Housing, Communities and Local government Select Committee Inquiry into BRRS while Dr Greenhalgh presented evidence to All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) enquiry on Reform, Decentralisation and Devolution in the UK at the University of Leeds in 2016.

Both are involved in many activities to ensure their research has a tangible effect on private entities. An example of this is R3Intelligence, a spinout company they run that offers services and expertise for investors, landlords and organisations who want to understand how commercial real estate can work more efficiently for them. In fact, they recently completed a report for the British Council for Offices into office obsolescence and agile re-use.

In the future, Drs Muldoon-Smith and Greenhalgh will engage in more workshops and public debates on public finance and property market dynamics. They are also expanding their research. Dr Muldoon-Smith is currently conducting research into how the demands of place making and public administration can be better aligned with public finance and tax, while carrying out an international investigation into the use of land value and real estate assets for public service delivery. Complimenting this activity, Dr Greenhalgh is currently investigating new methods of automated valuation and retail market change while intensifying his analysis of commercial property markets in the UK.


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