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Issue Date:- 7 April 2008


WORKERS in the North West would appear to be happier with their co-workers than anywhere else in the country.

When asked what they would like to change about their current workplace only 21% noted that their colleagues would be the thing that they would change, one of the lowest proportions reported across the UK.

Comfort of the work area is of greatest importance to workers in the North West. Factors such as lighting, temperature and noise all rated higher than other aspects, such as workplace facilities (kitchens and bicycle storage etc), transport connections or car parking. Furthermore, workers were very concerned with employer policies, with 90% of workers rating salary and 88% rating job security as the most significant policies.

What Workers Want, a report by Savills based on a survey carried out by YouGov, reveals the views of 4,570 UK employees in offices, shops and warehouses.

It reports that aside from the more obvious demands such as salary and job security, workers are primarily concerned with workplace conditions.   Although factors such as green credentials were ranked highly, in 5th place, these are confined to recycling policies and not building performance or Corporate Social Responsibility policy.  Furthermore, location of workplace in terms of length of commute, public transport and proximity to shops was also of concern and featured within the top 10 rankings, but comfort remained of top priority.

Marie Hickey, associate director of Savills research, says:- “Companies are becoming more and more concerned with staff retention, introducing flexible working policies as well as paying more attention to onsite facilities such as gyms and crèches for example. Our research would, however, suggest that property fundamentals such as workplace comfort and the additional features of lighting and temperature are a primary concern, and investors and developers should factor these into their buying criteria.  With capital value growth set to slow down in the short term, landlords will need to focus on occupier preferences, and ultimately the needs of their employees, to maintain rental income.”

The survey indicates that occupier preferences have property implications when it comes to masterplanning, design and fit-out. Buildings with good (natural) lighting and environmental controls are one way of keeping workers happy. Centrally located buildings are also attractive, providing good access to public transport connections and proximity to shops and leisure.

This is not possible in all cases, in which case greater attention to on-site facilities such as canteens, bicycle storage, and showers becomes a priority.

The truth is that people will endure most things if their remuneration is above average. Where this is not the case and as the attraction and retention of staff continues to be a primary concern for employers, addressing the property concerns of staff may become a necessary requirement for employers and ultimately for developers and investors.


OVER 1.2 million tonnes of carbon, which is equivalent to the emissions of over 1.5 million 'passenger flights' across the Atlantic, will needlessly be released by new private homes in the North West built up to 2016, because ministers are not clamping down on private developers.

Under government regulations being introduced next month, new homes built by housing associations will have to reduce their carbon emissions by 25%, with greater cuts coming in stages over subsequent years up to April 2015; by which point associations will be compelled to ensure that all their new homes are 'zero carbon'.  However, the Government is not compelling private developers to join the same timetable, giving them 2 years' grace before they are compelled to start reducing the emissions of their new homes. They will then cut emissions at a slower rate than housing associations up to April 2016; by which point all new homes in the country must be 'zero carbon'.

The National Housing Federation fears that this twin-track approach means that the 1.4m new homes built by private developers up to April 2016 will needlessly emit more than 6 million tonnes of carbon over their lifetime. Federation research shows that the carbon unnecessarily emitted by these homes will be the equivalent of the annual carbon output of Birmingham.  Housing associations are already in the vanguard of sustainable house-building, using super-insulation, solar panels and wind turbines at many developments across the country. While 92% of housing association new homes are already meeting 'good' or 'very good' eco-standards, only 2% of new homes built by private developers do so.  However, the Federation, which represents housing associations, believes that if associations can meet such good standards in green house-building then ministers should compel private developers to do so as well.

The North West currently emits over 16,800 tonnes of domestic carbon emissions every year, the region has 187,000 households officially living in 'fuel poverty', so the time has never been more urgent. 

National Housing Federation chief executive David Orr said:- "Our research shows just how serious for the planet ministerial dithering, over private developers, will be.  It's simply unacceptable that 6.4m tonnes of carbon will needlessly be pumped into the environment just because the Government is giving the private sector an easy-ride on the issue of sustainability.  Ministers are facing in two directions on the issue of emissions. On the one hand they are saying it's an urgent issue and housing associations have to reduce emissions now. On the other hand they are saying that private sector developers can do what they like for another two years, and then work to a slower timetable until 2016.  The Government needs to grasp the nettle and compel private developers to meet the same tough sustainable standards and timetable as housing associations now.

It is absolutely right that housing associations are being compelled to meet tough environmental standards. However, because we're the only ones using sustainable building methods, the supply chain is artificially expensive and housing associations are having to shoulder the cost.  This is unfair.  And, in effect, ministers are getting us to do the private developers' research and development on the cheap."

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