Mills & Reeve Interview

What do you think are the biggest challenges facing the property sector in the North West right now?
Appropriate commercial space to accommodate fast-growing medium-sized businesses. We need to ensure that property developers are constantly reviewing the needs of this sector and provide a plentiful supply of suitable accommodation so they continue to thrive. Also, as we are actively encouraging the life sciences and technology sectors into the region, we need to create state-of-the-art space in order to give occupiers a competitive edge.

If you could improve anything in the region, what would it be?
My response to this question is not novel as the answer is greater connectivity. If a stronger Northern axis is to be a reality, we need effective links between the great Northern cities. I also support HS2 but would much prefer to reverse the order and start with the Manchester to Birmingham link.

Looking into your crystal ball, what are your property predictions for the next six months?
The growing trend of investment from both outside the UK and investment funds will grow. Manchester is becoming a very popular destination in the UK for funds. London is looking rather overpriced and many areas in the world are looking too unstable. I predict the growth will be such that people will start to question if all this type of investment is welcome. If the investment creates jobs and opportunities for local people and the region then fair enough but if there is no collateral benefit then how much inward investment is sustainable?

What is the best project you’ve been involved in?
I enjoyed acting for Salford PCT a few years ago in the acquisition of six sites to house their LIFT buildings. Each site seemed to be more complicated than the last and it was a challenging site assembly exercise. However, what made it special for me was the innovative way health services were combined with other local authority services. For example, the Pendleton Gateway also incorporated a library which has become a well-used community facility.

Name the person who has most inspired you and the one who has had the biggest influence on your career?
I admired George Davies the founder of my former firm George Davies. Although I only met him in the autumn of his career, I learnt lessons from him that I still apply today. He believed in investing in his staff and in the early 1940s was regarded as rather ahead of his time in ensuring his back office staff had pleasant carpeted offices. He excelled in client care and was able to put in to practice his liberal views when running a business.

If your career didn’t exist, what would you do?
If my career did not exist it could mean we were living in a utopian society where there was no conflict and everyone would live happily with no desire to enter into disputes with their neighbour. If I were to reside in such a world then I think there would not be too many career options - I suppose I may end up as chief ambrosia tester!
Alternatively, if my career did not exist it might be because we have developed into a society that did not respect the rule of law and the right of the individual. With the swingeing cuts in legal aid you might be forgiven for thinking we are taking the first steps in this direction. If this were to be the case, I quite fancy myself as a freedom fighter!

What’s the best thing about your job?
The people. I take great delight in seeing one of our young solicitors negotiate and complete a difficult transaction. I have played a small part in transforming a tentative trainee in to a confident and effective lawyer.

Interview with Anne Fairhurst, property partner at law firm Mills & Reeve


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