On Thursday 11 March, over 150 delegates with a professional interest in the property sector attended a breakfast seminar at the Weston Homes Community Stadium in Colchester. Jointly organised by a trio of local advisers – Ellisons Solicitors, Fenn Wright Estate Agents and PKF Accountants & Business Advisers – for the second year running, the guest speaker was Phil Eckersley, Agent for the Bank of England in the Bank’s South East & East Anglia region.

Guy Longhurst, Property Partner at Ellisons chaired the event. Lewis Chambers, Fenn Wright Partner talked about the imminent revaluation of business premises for rating purposes and prospects for the local property market whilst Peter Harrup, Tax Partner at PKF concluded the seminar by looking at property related tax issues.

Key speaker Phil Eckersley gave a balanced view on the outlook for the UK economy based on the recently published Bank of England Inflation Report. He explained that the near-term outlook was for inflation to rise as the restoration of the standard rate of VAT to 17 % and higher petrol prices impact on the CPI measure of inflation. Further ahead, the degree of spare capacity in the economy was likely to bear down on inflation, bringing it below the 2% target. Although the economy may now be growing again, the contraction in GDP meant a significant amount of output had been lost since the crisis began.

An audience poll suggested that most delegates were starting to see some “Green Shoots” in their business dealings. This result was further supported in the feedback questionnaire in which 71% indicated that they were feeling more positive this year about the property sector than last year and 66% thought that residential values would increase over the next 12 months. Opinion is, however, more divided with regard to commercial property where only 44% expected commercial property values to rise over the next year.

The organisers were happy that the event had achieved their objectives:
Guy Longhurst commented: “Property has always been the barometer for testing economic temperature. The sector was in recession for at least twelve months before everyone else but today has given us some comfort that the residential property market has improved significantly over the past 12 months. The commercial property market entered into recession after the residential market and is still very difficult. It is helpful for our clients to be well informed with regards to the local and national markets and today, with the Bank of England’s help, I think we have definitely achieved that”

Lewis Chambers is equally buoyant: “In this region there are a large number of homeowners who remain confident of their employment prospects and who see this as a good time to move house. With interest rates set to remain at, or close to, current levels for at least this calendar year, we anticipate a relatively stable marketplace during 2010.”

Peter Harrup was also delighted with the response to the event but tempers any excessive optimism with a note of caution. “Returns on property investment are being squeezed at the current time. It is therefore more important than ever that families structure their affairs as tax efficiently as possible, with a view to maximising these returns.”

This is the second year running that the trio of advisers have invited a key speaker to share views with their clients and contacts in the Property sector. It is now an established annual event.



The Colchester Property Conference at the Weston Homes Community Stadium is now an established annual event. Next year it is planned for April 2011. Attendance is by invitation only. If you would like us to invite you next year please send your contact details (name/organisation/tel no and email address) to Events@ellisonssolicitors.com