Quote of the Day:

““Since a politician never believes what he says, he is quite surprised to be taken at his word”
Charles De Gaulle

So, goodbye 2016, it is a year many of us will look back on with startled wonder. In time, we may even look back and laugh – but probably not.

Aside from the many celebrity deaths (caused not, as some would like to suggest, by some curse of 2016, but instead in large part by the more traditional methods of long-term drug/alcohol abuse, cancer or old age), 2016 proved to be the year that those in power spectacularly misjudged the rest of the world. It was also a year where Spitting Image was really sorely missed.

Whatever side of the Brexit fence you chose to sit on, the deed is done – at least we definitely know it means breakfast, even if it is currently a dog’s breakfast. Prime Minister May-be has put us firmly on the track of leaving the EU, hurtling towards a hard, red, white and blue Brexit (which is not a dodgy x-rated film but apparently a clear political strategy). Let’s just hope the particular train that Theresa May has put us on isn’t operated by Southern. At least we can all be pleased that power is being transferred back to the sovereignty of Parliament and democratically elected MPs, obviously except in the case of Parliament actually having a say on Brexit itself, and accepting that no one elected Theresa May Prime Minister or gave her government any sort of mandate. Still, good that power is back with the people…

And across the pond, Trump. What else can you say? The sight of Boorish Johnson and Slapped Face Gove journeying across the seas to put forward our best diplomatic efforts could have been written for the latest instalment of the Thick of It. But, sigh, it is all true. No matter how often we rub our eyes in disbelief, Trump, a man who shares his name with a bodily excretion, is going to be POTUS. Paddy Power is currently offering odds of 4-1 of his being impeached within the first 6 months. Ladbrokes has it at 50/50. But given that bookies and experts alike were wrong all of last year we shouldn’t get our hopes up.

And so, to 2017…

Here at Snapdragon we are blowing away the cobwebs of despair and moving on. We start 2017 having grown to a mighty 14 people with Ben Lee joining us as a Director in our Snapdragon East office based in Cambridge, taking that team up to four and Will Savage, in the greatest political revival since Nigel Farage, returning to Snapdragon after a year away in Birmingham to set up Snapdragon Midlands. These are exciting times! It also means that our internal darts league is really heating up with some genuine competition – best to knock before you enter the office to avoid a flying dart.

Having allowed the first couple of weeks of January to go by we thought now was the time for some good old predictions.

  1. We predict that, at some point, a Housing White Paper will be published which will attempt to do the job of speeding up development at the same time as vesting power in communities and Neighbourhood Plans and envisage these things working harmoniously…
  2. Brexit will be triggered and with it, the City and the UK economy as a whole is likely to judder not to a halt but through something of an economic thunderstorm.
  3. Devolution will be the name of the new political game in town which has the potential to see some of the UKs regions – in particular the Cambridge/Peterborough, Greater Birmingham and Greater Manchester regions getting directly elected mayors – having the opportunity and ability to use strategic powers to generate economic investment and growth. Surely we are only a hop, skip and a jump away from the reintroduction of RSSs (not that they would be called that, obviously).
  4. Hot on the heels of Sadiq ‘I’m in every photo’ Khan’s ‘A City for All Londoners’ roadmap, we are expecting a new London Plan. Nine months into the role and there is still uncertainty over the role and position of the new Mayor on development with mixed messages a plenty.
  5. HS2 should receive Royal Assent, paving the way for many more people to be able to get to London much more efficiently. Sorry, I meant to say, making it easier for investment to flow from London to the regions… Arguably this will be one result, but the fact that capacity on the line into London was a key reason for HS2 in the first place has been quietly swept under the carpet by successive governments.
  6. Investment patterns will change (and not for the better), whilst the UK may be a cheap and attractive option now due to the plummeting of the pound, this is not a long-term strategy for economic success. Brexit, future trade deals and indeed Putin and Trump will all be key factors in the global economy and the fortunes of the British economy.
  7. Build to Rent will become a much more attractive and popular asset class – although the extent to which popularity increases will at least in part be governed by the way in which it is treated vis a vis affordable housing.
  8. The UK will march towards more elections and referendums with the NI Government in total disarray and Nichola Sturgeon seeing her chance for another shot at independence. Just wait for her announcement that Hadrian’s Wall will be rebuilt to stop refugees who want to remain in Europe flowing across the border and the English are going to pay.
  9. The world will become more isolationist with the US leading the charge at protectionism showing that history is only ever cyclical and never really in the past. We could just regurgitate some GCSE inter-war history lessons but that would be a little generalistic. Still, the principle remains.
  10. Matthew Fitzpatrick and Danny Willets will come first and second at the Augusta Masters…

Just ten predictions for now, not withstanding a global economic collapse or all-out nuclear combat between Russia, the USA and North Korea, which would really make any forecasting utterly obsolete.

Do let me know if you have anything to add, there is much I would like to be proved wrong on this year!