September 21, 2020

Ben Green

 An academic’s freedom

Ben Green of the Cambridge agency team of Eddisons Barker Storey Matthews reports back on a recent online seminar hosted by Estates Gazette.

Like tens of thousands of students in Cambridge will be doing this term, I sat at my desk and listened to an enlightening seminar from a professor who is a leader in his academic field.

 Phil Allmendinger, of Clare College, is a Professor of Land Economy at the University of Cambridge. He was the main interviewee in a very stimulating online event organised by the Estates Gazette titled, “The Future of Cambridge: Why indifference is our biggest challenge.”

 Professor Allmendinger was interviewed by Sam McClary, the EG’s editor, who also conducted interviews with some of my property peers in the city.

 It was enlightening to hear the views and opinions of an academic. His input aired a new, cerebral angle to the ongoing debate about planning, affordable housing and development in general in Cambridge.

 The professor provided an overview which was, by definition, more wide ranging than the oft repeated arguments to which all development and property professionals in the city buy in.

 With an academic’s eye, he was able to lift the arguments away from a micro-focus on Cambridge to more macro considerations of the role of modern cities in the western developed world.

 As the University of Cambridge’s representative on the board of the Greater Cambridge Partnership, he was able to speak with some authority about the problem of fragmented governance in the Cambridge area when it comes to matters of development.

 He also had a somewhat wry take on how, historically, every decade or so, central government administrations revise the planning system in the belief that their particular planning reform agenda and policies will be the panacea to all our planning and development ills.

 Interesting too, that, in a city such as Cambridge, he guarded against an over-reliance on technology to provide the solution to how we live, work and function as a society.

 Those three aspects are, after, all at the heart of the impetus behind the need for development.

 It was refreshing to hear an expert admit he didn’t know how the Covid-19 pandemic would affect development. How could he? It’s too soon to tell.

 That’s the beauty of academic freedom. It’s a field of expertise where arguments, views and opinions -and even speculation - have to be based on the rigour of evidence.

 For more information about development opportunities in Cambridge, contact Ben Green, tel 01223 467155,