Continuing our series of interviews, Constructive sat down with Suzan Yildiz, the newest recruit to Olswang’s Real Estate team.
1. As a new recruit to Olswang can you tell us about your background in planning?
I forged my career in house with LPAs which provided exposure to every aspect of planning law. For the last five years I led a team focussed on high profile regeneration and development projects including London Bridge, Canada Water, London South Central. My clients often had multiple hats on projects: significant landowner (with over £3 billion of real estate assets), promoter of development, policy and decision maker. Working for a regeneration intensive borough provided an exceptional continuum to my work from involvement at policy level through to delivery of projects. I hope to bring these insights to my work at Olswang.
2. What has been the highlight of your career so far?
Having worked on London Bridge Quarter, I was lucky to be invited to a preview of ‘the View at the Shard’ recently. From this iconic (and lofty) platform, it’s possible to experience the City in a fresh way. It was almost a showcase of our work in recent years. I could see tangible outcomes from every angle, including my own contribution to regeneration, to local communities, to shaping the London skyline. I feel proud that this legacy will remain for posterity.
3. Why did you join Olswang and how do you hope to shape your planning practice here?
Planning can add, or in the wrong hands reduce, value. In these challenging economic times investors need to safeguard their revenue and capital, developers need to realise the development potential of land to see returns. My strong expertise of planning and development work, would compliment a leading Real Estate practice (with noted practitioners) in offering a full service to our developer and investor clients, from strategic advice through to planning and construction. I am excited about building on these synergies to develop a proactive, progressive practice that is passionate about planning.
4. What predictions do you have for the planning world over the coming years?
By 2014 the Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) will become widespread, having a significant impact on development costs. This complex area of law will need to be factored in by developers and investors from the outset in selecting sites, structuring deals or promoting development.
Student housing will remain a growth area attracting both developers and investors given the support at strategic policy level, lower development costs and willingness of entrepreneurial investors to fund these schemes.
The latest Government proposals to allow permitted development rights (i.e. automatic permission) for change of use from commercial to residential would remove protection for employment space when evidence points to need at local level. This may result in a brief spurt in housing, however the long term effects on SME’s of sacrificing local employment space could prove damaging for local economies.
5. Would you rather go back in time to meet your ancestors or go into the future to meet your great-grandchildren?
Ironically despite my emphasis on the progressive, the past informs the present and the future. We must take the best of tradition without letting it impede innovation. I grew up in the Balkans, my ancestry hailed from the Ottoman Empire which in its golden age was impressively progressive. Suleiman the Magnificent oversaw artistic, literary, political and legal innovations. In architectural terms, they employed a balance of form and function, still central to contemporary architecture today. I would therefore go back to shake hands with my ancestors and congratulate them on such inspiring feats which still inform progress (not to mention my sense of pride)!