Susan Poole – Commercial Property Solicitor
Had I been asked this question at the start of the year I would have said that they were generally good, but then Covid 19 struck! We currently have a second wave and further restrictions in parts of West Yorkshire so it is a very different picture now.
The retail, hospitality and leisure sectors have been hit particularly hard with city centres such as Leeds suffering from the lack of footfall, resulting in a number of store closures.
Tenants have struggled to pay rents and many Landlords in turn are facing pressure from lenders. For some this second wave may be the final straw.
For local High Streets the position is slightly different. Whilst some businesses are still facing difficulties others have benefitted from the increase in local footfall, brought about by the Covid restrictions and the increase in home working.
In the longer term for those that survive there are reasons for optimism. Promises of increased Government investment in the region, coupled with improved transport links means that the region still has much to recommend it.
I have been involved in many interesting and unusual projects over the years. As the legal manager of Leeds Bradford Airport in the 1990s I worked on two Airport Terminal Extensions and the introduction of the instrument landing system for night flying.
My six years as an Attorney in Bermuda also enabled me to work on interesting hotel and condominium developments and offshore investment projects.
Since returning to England I have worked on a variety of projects for businesses, charities and individuals in the UK which have been equally challenging and rewarding.
This has to be Salts Mill. Built by Sir Titus Salt to improve the working conditions of his mill workers in the mid-1800s it still maintains the façade of the original mill and surrounding buildings providing a fascinating glimpse into the life of the mill workers. The mill itself now houses the paintings of local artist David Hockney plus a restaurant and cafés making it a great place to spend a Sunday afternoon.
One change that I would advocate (though generally rather than specifically for this region) is a review of the Stamp Duty Land Tax legislation. Although contained mostly within the Finance Act 2003 this is supplemented by the guidance manual produced by HMRC which is often outdated and unreliable making this area of law challenging for both the parties to transactions and their advisers.
My parents have had the biggest influence upon my life. Sadly they both died whilst I was still in my twenties but through example they instilled in me a strong work ethic. They also inspired my love of learning and travel.
Their advice that I have tried to follow is to work hard and make the most of the chances and opportunities that come your way in life.