Business / Economy

Setting new standards in urban development

By WU YIYAO (China Daily) Updated: 2014-12-26 11:15

Tompkins believes that there will be different standards for most of the future global cities. "Benchmarks, rather than economic output, will be used to evaluate cities and the focus will be on the leverage urban development can bring to rural areas. This will also be the key for the well-being of the entire population in China," he said.

A not-for-profit, independent organization that stands for setting and upholding the highest global standards of professionalism, RICS seeks to find ways to cater to the public interest.

"For this our members must provide impartial, authoritative insights on key issues affecting business and society," said Tompkins.

The rapidly growing property market in China and the nation's ongoing urbanization plan have posed many challenges to secure, healthy and sustainable development as it involves many parties including policymakers, urban planners, developers, talent from property and environment protection sectors. It also includes challenges like cultural diversity and inclusiveness, he said.

Sally Sun, a China partner at global consultancy firm PricewaterhouseCoopers, said China's property sector is already showing signs of strain with slower sales, tight cash flow and financing pressures. Given the general lack of enthusiasm toward China this year, the market has become divided with most of the attention now directed toward bigger cities like Shanghai and Beijing, which have been the source of numerous successful investments by foreign funds over the last 10 years.

"While small and mid-sized Chinese developers are experiencing difficulties due to the government-mandated squeeze on debt financing, we are seeing an increase in the volume of private capital originating from Asian markets, led by a group of large Chinese developers that invest mainly in residential projects both regionally and globally", said Sun.

Tompkins says that this is something that developers and urban planners should take note of and use it to ensure higher standards and the long-term well-being of future projects.

"When people talk about big cities in China, they often tend to think of cities with the largest population, GDP output, and mushrooming high-rises. But we have observed that most of the Chinese cities are competing as economic engines. They are investing heavily to attract talent, improve the environment and public services. They are also looking at whether the city is affordable for its residents and the public services are friendly for urban habitation," he said.

Tompkins said that his organization has focused on developing RICS' brand from a traditional, trusted UK mark of property professionalism built on high standards and ethics since 1868 to one of international significance. This has been achieved through a combination of strong strategic marketing acumen and a systematic, market-driven approach to business planning, including pushing forward RICS' recognition in China.

Toward that end, RICS is now not just an organization that sets standards, but an organization that seeks to cooperate, rather than compete, with realty developers and other services providers in the property market, said Tompkins.

It is extremely important for trend setters to understand local markets and have clear insight into local demand, as it will come in handy while formulating standards that are applicable and made upon empirical data, said Tompkins. RICS has been cooperating with many Chinese institutions and organizations and managed to promote its standards and professional services, said Tompkins.

RICS has recently inked agreements with the China Land Science Society, the Trade Association of Shanghai Property Management, the Chongqing Real Estate Association, and the Yunnan Province Society for Geodesy.

China's demand for high-end talent has also helped in the fast growth of RICS' members in China. Since RICS began operations in China in 2004, its membership has swelled 10-fold in a decade.

Currently, some 3,000 RICS surveyors covering almost every field in property development and urban planning are operating in China.

Prominent RICS members include CBRE, DTZ, Savills, Cushman & Wakefield, and Jones Lang LaSalle.

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