Graeme Craig - Director Commercial Development, Transport for London

Posted on 28 May 2020

Susan Freeman

Hi, I’m Susan Freeman, welcome back to our PropertyShe podcast series brought to you by Mishcon de Reya in association with the London Real Estate Forum where I get to interview some of the key influencers in the world of real estate and the built environment.  We are currently recording the podcast digitally so please bear with us if the sound quality isn’t up to our usual studio standard. 

Today I am really delighted to welcome Graeme Craig.  Graeme is Transport for London’s Commercial Development Director and is responsible for its land and property across the Capital, this includes over 5500 acres of operational land and over 30 office buildings across London.  Graeme also runs TfL’s commercial property function which is delivering an initial programme of more than 10,000 homes, half of which will be affordable, across more than 50 sites.  Graeme’s team will also be developing over 2 million square foot of commercial offices across seven sites including at Bank, Paddington and Southwark.  TfL has over 2000 commercial tenants of which 86% are small businesses, with a large portfolio of retail units in and around stations as well as over 750 arches across London.  All net revenue raised from commercial activity is returned to TfL to reinvest in London’s transport network.  So now we are going to hear from Graeme Craig on his unique role at Transport for London.    

So, Graeme welcome to the studio.  I was actually thinking about when we first met and I think it was probably about the time that you brought Ross Bailey and Appear Here into Old Street Station to reinvigorate some of your shops and units there with popups.  You have been at Transport for London in different roles since about 2004 and it will be quite interesting I think for our listeners to hear how it all started and how you came to be in the role that you now occupy. 

Graeme Craig

Let me say that I… so I joined TfL in 2004, originally to run the congestion charging scheme so my background is in running operations, big projects, no prior experience in property, retail, any of the things for which I am now responsible.  Back in 2004, well I had, you know, I came into TfL, was enjoying doing what I was doing, my role expanded, took on a few other things but then in 2010/11, I was one of a couple of people charged by the then Commissioner, Peter Hendy, in order to look at how TfL was organised, to make sure they were ready, you know in a position to deliver the Games in 2012 and one of the things that we were very keen to do was to bring the organisation together so that we did things in only one place within TfL so we created a single finance team, a single IT function, a single HR function, a single way of talking to our customers out there in London because those all obviously the sorts of things you need in order to run an efficient large Games.  One bi-product of all of that was how we organised ourselves in terms of commercially exploiting our assets and it struck us that that was one of those things that was still being done in a number of different places within TfL.  So, in 2012 as it happens, we brought together for the first time, all those commercial activities in TfL.  We tried to find someone to take on that role but maybe not surprisingly there wasn’t a huge interest because at the time, if I am honest, this was a role that was seen as running TfL’s car parks and so as a default and this wasn’t my preference at the time, I ended up on a temporary part-time basis taking over responsibility for the commercial exploitation of TfL’s assets and I discovered, much to my surprise, that I stumbled upon one of the more interesting jobs in London because of course when you look at the scale of what it is that TfL owns, when you realise that we couldn’t take those forward by ourselves, clearly we’d have to work in partnership with other organisations, large and small, established and start-up, well then you realise there is a hugely interesting job here but also one that’s important from a London point of view, we are in the position to build thousands, ultimately tens of thousands of homes, create tens of thousands of jobs, deliver hundreds of millions of pounds to reinvest back into the transport network but of course to do that you have to begin with an understanding of what it is that we actually own and then who then do we need to work with in order to take that forward. 

Susan Freeman

And do you, I mean, it’s interesting that that started in 2012 which isn’t that long ago and do you think that you have actually got to the bottom of it now that you have a sort of pretty good grasp of what’s included in this massive portfolio or does the voyage of discovery continue?

Graeme Craig

We understand what we own, I think we have a view which itself took some time, I think we have a view as to how best to take that portfolio forward but clearly what happens in the interim is the whole world changes around about you so we are in the middle of this pandemic that undoubtedly will have impacts on how we live, work and enjoy ourselves in London and of course that will have a profound impact, potentially at least, on elements of our portfolio so, at no point can you come up with a plan and then just say “This is the plan that we are then going to take forward”, you have to have a plan but how in practice you deliver against that plan, of course you have to continually understand what’s happening in the market, where are the ideas coming from, who do we need to work with because whenever you think you may have got to something resolving an answer, the whole world moves on again.    

Susan Freeman

Well I think nobody had expected this to happen, as somebody put it today, it’s as if all the pre-existing trends have been catapulted forward by five years and in some cases, you know, that works, in some cases actually it’s quite difficult but you’ve got one of the largest property portfolios in London, I reckon, I think it’s about 5.5 acres so, clearly lots of opportunities and just so that our listeners understand the relationship between the property side of the business and the operational side of Transport for London, as I understand it is entirely… it is separate, your side of the business produces income which can go into the operational side so you are, you operate separately, is that right?

Graeme Craig

Yes, we are still wholly owned by TfL, we are still a part of TfL but what we have done over the course of the last twelve months is move all of those commercial assets together in one place so those now sit within TfL but with their own P&L, their own balance sheet, we’ve had those assets valued recently and it’s £1.5 billion so those are the assets that we manage as a commercial portfolio as part of TfL.  We also, and this is something else that’s happened over the course of the last twelve months, we now have a wholly self-financing plan so the £1.1 billion that we need to take forward those first 10,000 homes are all funded from within the commercial development portfolio in TfL and that’s obviously important because what we don’t want to be doing particularly at a time like this, is taking investment that could otherwise be spent on the transport part of TfL and then put it into, you know arguably, speculative housing development so we’ve got something which is stand alone, self-financed and that also gives us that critical long-term certainty that we need in order to make the right decisions focussed on the long-term. 

Susan Freeman

Yes and as you say, I mean it, there’s a lot of change going on at the moment and a lot of people making lots of predictions and I think it’s going to take a little time to really assess the impact but at the moment obviously the operational side is running a much reduced service and you have quite a lot of small and medium-sized businesses who operate in and around stations so they would obviously be affected by what’s going on and I think one of the things you did at the March quarter day was you agreed a rent holiday, a three month rent holiday for those smaller businesses and I think the small businesses are about 86% of your rent roll so, I imagine that was very welcome and obviously things are beginning to re-open now but do you have any thoughts on how things are going to look at the next quarter day?

Graeme Craig

We want to be in a position really within the next week or so to confirm our plans.  I think the sense of it is that London is increasingly starting to re-open.  We were very keen three months ago in order to make sure that we weren’t saddling our tenants with more debt, I mean we just wanted them to stay open, look after themselves, their families and continue to function so, for us it was a straight forward decision, rent holiday effectively for three months.  I think over the course of the next three months, we are expecting, and we are talking to our tenants, that they will go back to paying rent again.  What we also want to do though is to move from our tenants paying a quarter in advance to thinking actually it must make more sense from a cashflow point of view for them to pay monthly in arrears so we are looking at a package of measures where I think there will be some discount over the course of the next three months but with, you know, tenants ramping up so that they are paying, moving from payment in advance to payment in arrears, above all a very clear focus within my team that we need to understand for everyone of those two and a half thousand tenants what is the help that they need?  I mean what we want are tenants in situ and we want tenants to be in place, equally I am sure there will be many, many people in London and beyond who have taken the opportunity in the past few weeks to think about what they want to do with their life and maybe they’ve got ideas and maybe they want to create something.  Given the estate we’ve got, I think we are in a very privileged position where if you’ve got Londoners and others who’ve got a bright idea and want to make that happen but they need retail space or they need maker space, you know they need space in London, I think ours is the most important ecosystem to support them and I think, you know, I am very keen that we are in a position to do that, recognising that it’s not just a, you know, a straight forward old fashioned landlord-tenant relationship, we need to work with those tenants and we also need to work with everyone else to understand, particularly given the impact of the last few weeks, who is looking to expand?  Who is looking to contract?  Who is looking to move on?  So it’s very important that we are in a position to offer certainty across the beast and to come out quickly and be in a position to set out exactly what’s going to happen over the course of the next three months but equally, whatever broad brush approach we might take, we also need to understand tenant by tenant across the estate, where do they actually stand and how can we, in so far as we can, help all of those organisations continue to function whilst at the same time working through how we might create space for other new organisations to come in and then grow. 

Susan Freeman

I think that will be very well received especially as all the change that’s going on at the moment is making people rethink, you know there’s been a lot of talk about office hubs in suburbs and, you know, again that was something that people have been talking about before but it just seems, you know, a lot of people getting used to the idea of actually not having a long commute every day and looking at possibilities, that must be an interesting opportunity for you because if one could somehow get the office working and the retail and the residential around transport hubs then we will really have the ability to create some really lively new communities.

Graeme Craig

Yeah, I think there’s two different parts in terms of answering that question.  One, from TfL as an employer point of view, you know we’ve gone from having 12,000 people employed in offices in London to less than 500 and so pretty much, you know, literally overnight nine weeks ago, we all found ourselves, many of us for the first time ever, working from home, using tools on our laptops that we had never used in the past, and the team I have to say have done superbly, you know, we just haven’t dropped a step you know we’ve continued to work, I think I and others have found that we can work from home and that we can be as or more efficient working from home but clearly it doesn’t suit everyone, clearly some people have circumstances, childcare, flat shares, whatever, it just isn’t possible for some people to work from home but then you find yourself thinking, is the best answer for those people that they’ve got to travel into a large office in central London or can we find somewhere close to them where perhaps they can walk or cycle and go somewhere where they can log on and so understanding from a TfL point of view as an employer, how can we look after the people we’ve got?  How can we from all of this hardship that’s going on, how can we create something that’s a new way of working that ultimately is more efficient, more productive, more enjoyable for the people who work for us?  And there definitely isn’t one answer to that but I think understanding, you know, where can we create convenient space for the people who work for us especially for those who for whatever reason can’t work from home, let’s combine that with, we still need central London activity, you know that’s part operational, part people need access to systems but it’s also, you know, there are activities whether it’s interviews, inductions, learning and development project work, there are times when it’s useful to come together but I think for us we are examining, you know, options for a completely different way in which we set up and use our office space so it’s not just rows of desks but actually thinking, what are the reasons why people need to be in an office and how can we create that space?  And we are thinking that first of all for our own people that obviously within, you know, then you’ve got the consequential impacts of that so we had plans, we still do to bring forward seven major commercial schemes, 2.4 million square feet and we still think it’s completely right to bring those forward but clearly, you know, we need to assess those plans against what’s happening.  More broadly, in the future we did have plans later this year to bring forward a scheme alongside Merton Council where we and Merton were going to work together on the potential of a 20 acre site in Morden town centre.  Now, you know, we can build of course two, three, four thousand homes, whatever the right number is in Morden town centre but particularly in the context of what’s happened, we clearly should be using that as an opportunity to rethink, how does a suburban London town centre look and function in the future?  How will people be living, working and enjoying themselves in suburban London and what does that tell us about not just the future of housing or the future of work but also logistics, connectivity, retail, energy.  Morden is the first of what can be several largescale town centre schemes based on and around TfL’s land in London suburban town centres and we are very keen to think ambitiously about what the opportunity is in order to reinvigorate, re-energise, re-focus the role of suburban London town centres. 

Susan Freeman

It is an exciting possibility and although obviously there was nothing very positive about the current pandemic, I mean the good thing it has given the opportunity to just re-think and do things differently maybe from how we have done them before and, you know, people have complained in the past that some of our suburban town centres are just hollowed out during the week because everybody gets on a train and goes off to work in central London and if one could create a community which combines those various elements then you can see actually having a little bit of life back so it is an exciting time.  So, 10,000 units, 10,000 residential units that you are planning, will you re-think those or will they continue as planned?

Graeme Craig

We are now up to as it happens 13,400 so that’s the number that we are working to at the moment.  We are still looking to bring those forward.  Some of the timescales may be impacted, we are conscious in particular that some of the boroughs are saying they want to take longer to consider schemes, they don’t want to be seen to be rushing things through without adequate scrutiny, and that we absolutely understand so we are endeavouring to just work through exactly what the programme looks like but in essence, you know, we want to be live next year on over fifty sites that together will comprise over 10,000 homes and I think, I think from a residential point of view, a sort of a quality home and a quality environment is the same now as it was two months ago or two years ago.  I am not seeing a fundamental change myself in what we bring forward and I think that, you know, given that what we are offering across the piece is thousands of homes, 50% affordable homes, a large focus on build to rent so, you know, essentially an affordable product built on the transport network in London, that to me still feels like about the safest bet that there is anywhere in this industry almost anywhere in the world so, you know, we still want to bring that forward, whatever the additional obstacles we might face, we are still passionate about wanting to bring those forward as soon as we can, London still has a housing crisis, that isn’t going to change unfortunately in the short-term so we just want to bring forward these homes as fast as we can and that really is our core focus, you know, as we are increasingly confident about bringing those homes forward then we can start to look at commercial town centres, logistics, retail and other things but core to what we are doing at the moment is the focus on homes with a, you know, large element of about half of all the homes being affordable and nothing is going to change in terms of that. 

Susan Freeman

No, that makes a lot of sense and you mentioned build to rent and that I think is an area which will continue to perform strongly and I think your partnership with Grainger was formed last year, I don’t know if you would like to tell us a little bit about that and I think build to rent is sort of very much the focus of that partnership.

Graeme Craig

Yes, so you know, over again if we reflect back over the eight years that commercial development has been within TfL, we worked through initially that actually we wanted to work on joint venture particularly on our larger schemes, in part because commercially that’s the right thing to do but also because we recognised that we also have skills, you know, if you are talking about engineering above and around the transport network in London that’s not a straight forward thing to do but we’ve got more expertise than that within our organisation you would find anywhere else.  It doesn’t make sense for us just to pass that risk over to someone else who is less able to manage it so actually us working in joint venture where we bear the risks that we are best able to manage but clearly we leverage the unique skills, or those skills that we don’t possess within TfL in terms of taking forward homes, well that’s evolved from looking at a series of site by site schemes to recognising actually when it comes to build to rent, what we need to do is to have a major multi-site joint venture and for that reason we wanted to set up a joint-venture with Grainger and it’s gone amazingly well, I think I can’t praise Helen Gordon, Mike Keaveney and the team enough, they have been a superb partner for us.  If I am honest, just between us Susan, we are not always the easiest organisation to work with but Grainger recognise that, they are in it for the long-term and we’ve made huge progress.  We’ve built a team so literally there is a team that’s co-located, working together, you know it operates as a single team and that single team are focussed on ensuring that we make as much progress on quality housing as fast as we can and within a year of having identified Grainger as a partner we are already putting forward our first planning applications and you know that’s just testament to the way in which the teams have worked together as a single team because if you are trying to do things of the scale at which we are doing, multiple sites, thousands of homes, you can’t do that in a joint venture in which you pass emails back and forth, you know you have to create something that’s an entity in its own right so we have this joint venture connected living London and that’s the route through which we are going to take forward these homes, we did aim in order to launch it and the idea was that we were going to launch it a year after we’d appointed Grainger as our preferred partner and we were going to talk about all the great things we had done over the course of that year because of course what’s happened in recent weeks we’ve had to postpone the launch but, you know, I am being hugely impressed with the way that the team on both sides have come together and I am, you know, deeply, deeply impressed at the quality of work that they have done and the I think transformational impact they will have, not just on TfL but more broadly on the build to rent sector in London. 

Susan Freeman

Well that’s really encouraging to hear because you have a number of partnerships, collaborations and in fact just looking at, you know, the many schemes that you’ve got ongoing on the residential and the commercial side, I mean there are so many developers, small developers, large developers, housing associations, different local authorities throughout London so you must have, you have a lot of experience of working in partnership and joint ventures with different entities within the real estate sector. 

Graeme Craig

We do and it’s one of the joys of the job if I am honest because we are sort of in the middle and we are working with all these different parties and all of them bring different things and we are learning from all of them, you know, and so it’s an enormous joy for me and people in the team so that, you know, people who come and join our team because of the skill of what they are doing, because of the skill of what we are doing, they will be involved on larger projects, given more responsibility than they would do in probably any other organisation in the capital and we are working with the best in the industry in order to take it forward and we are, you know, we can never do enough learning across the piece given the range of organisations with whom we work and I think it is so important that, you know, we don’t just work with the people who you’d expect TfL to work with, you know, we need to have the broadest range of partners, we need to continue to be looking to understand what’s happening in the marketplace and it’s great the fact that we are working with, yes of course the large commercial developers, large house builders but also community land trusts, housing associations, individual SME builders, you know that’s part of the joy of the job, there can never be one answer for an estate as large and broad and diverse as the one that TfL has got.   

Susan Freeman

It’s interesting because this all takes us back to the beginning of the conversation that, you know, you were starting at a joint venture with Appear Here and I think it was their first project and it was, you know, yet untried and I think that’s sort of testament to, you know, the way you are prepared to look at new ideas.  Do you have any advice to developers, anybody who is looking to do a joint venture with Transport for London, is there anything that you would advise them to do or not do?

Graeme Craig

My biggest advice is to pick up the phone and talk to us.  A lot of people look at us on the outside and think that we seem a large, complex organisation that’s difficult to navigate round and all of those things are true but ultimately it comes down to the fact that we’ve got a vast array of sites around London, vast majority of them we need to work with adjoining landowners if you want to make the most of the site so if anyone’s got, you know, any aspirations for working with us, I am always happy to speak to anyone.  At a point when we get through this current phase, I will be much happier to get, I am not particularly looking forward to going back to the office but I am looking forward to getting out on site again so if there is someone who has got something that they’ve worked on that they think is applicable to us or if they have got an idea, I would much rather get out on site, talk to people face to face, standing two metres apart if we have to, but you know face to face with someone as they describe what they want.  I spend far too many hours of my life staring at slides but getting out on site, me and other people on the team because ultimately that’s what it comes down to whether it’s five and a half thousand acres and 50 schemes or what it is, ultimately it comes down to people working together to create something, that’s why we do the job that we because ultimately that act of creation is profoundly interesting and helps to shape this superb city, that’s why we do what we do.  So, an opportunity to get out on site, talk to people about their ideas and how we and they might work together, I am always, always open to someone who picks up the phone to me or arranges a chat. 

Susan Freeman

Well let me know if anybody picks up the phone as a result of this podcast, that would be great.  Looking at many, I mean there were so many developments ongoing around, you know various parts of London and looking at some of them, I think they involve building over the station car park in some way and what I wondered was whether you are able to build over the car park so that the car parking remains or whether you take the view that there is more carparking than is needed.  How does that play with local residents?

Graeme Craig

There isn’t one simple answer, as you’d expect so we own 81 car parks in London.  I think I probably personally take the view that across all 81 sites, for those to be used exclusively at the moment for people to park their car between whatever it is, 8 in the morning and 7 in the evening, is not the most efficient use of space immediately next to a station particularly when because we have done the work, and a disproportionate number of people that use our car parks are actually travelling from much further outside London, it’s you know for them more convenient, and in particular cheaper, to drive into London to park next to one of our stations and then get the Tube into central London and of course that’s convenient and cheaper for them but ultimately what we are doing is encouraging people to drive past sometimes multiple Network Rail stations in order to come further in and ultimately you know that adds to congestion, pollution, carbon and all the rest so I think in general creating fewer requirement for cars or even car-free schemes given that we are talking about building on the transport network is something that, you know, is a focus that we’ve got that is completely in line of course with the new London plan.  On a site by site basis it can be appropriate to retain car parking whether that’s Blue Badge or commuter, whether that’s decking on top, whether that’s retaining some of the car parking building adjacent to it, it’s probably the single most sort of contentious issue that we have dealing with the boroughs across London but ultimately, you know there’s no point in an organisation like we are in to just imagine that there’s one single answer you are looking to impose so ultimately it always comes down to always whether you are talking about one scheme or across fifty, it always comes down to that discussion, negotiation that we have, you know with local ward councillors, with stakeholders, with residents, with borough leaders, chief executives and the rest, where ultimately you are trying to find the right answer for that location and of course scheme by scheme there isn’t one answer as deeply important that we understand what do people care most about and ultimately come up with a solution, you know there are many so-called, well they are, great estates in London but we are in a position where the answer for us at South Ken isn’t the same as the answer in Harrow, isn’t the same as the answer in Morden, you know we’ve got to come up with answers that are appropriate for that location both in terms of what we build, how it relates to the area surrounding but also what we do with TfL’s existing operational infrastructure including of course the car parks. 

Susan Freeman

Yes and I suppose it’s difficult in that people don’t like change, they will tell you that, you know, we’ve got to reduce carbon footprints and how great it is at the moment because there’s so much less pollution but when you suggest that maybe they won’t drive their car to the car park as they have always done and that there will be different arrangements, that must be sort of quite difficult to convince them of. 

Graeme Craig

It is but of course there also, I mean it does tie in with, you know the broader implications of what might happen from this pandemic.  We’ve actually been running within my team a series of podcasts and webinars where we’ve brought external speakers in and one of those was Ben Rogers from Centre for London who gave a brilliant talk and one of the things that he was talking about was what the future for London might hold and he was talking about a London that’s more active, more local, it’s this notion that there are fewer… undoubtedly whilst social distancing is in place, we will not be able on London’s transport network to carry anything like the same number of people that we used to, potentially as few as 15% of the people that we used to carry, we will be able to carry in the future even with every train running because of the requirement for 2 metre social distancing.  Now in that context, you just don’t have anything like the same numbers of people who are able to travel into London therefore it will be a more active city, more people walking, more people cycling, it will be a more local city because people I suspect in recent weeks have been spending much more time enjoying themselves in their local area and so well that’s really not a bad thing if we are sort of reinforcing this notion of a polycentric city, you know London being a whole variety of villages and towns and cities, well that’s a good thing I think, obviously we still need the centre but also a London that’s more digital as well so we’ve all got used to doing more online, cultural, tv, shopping, you know there’s a whole variety of things that we are learning to do often for the first time, social as well as work, and I just think that you know the implications of that clearly need to be worked through but on the face of it I think that, you know, town centres with greater investment, less reliance on the car, less reliance on travelling into central London and TfL working with local authorities, local landowners and others in order to create you know efficient, active, green town centres are going to be a major focus for us in the years ahead. 

Susan Freeman

Yes, it’s an exciting prospect and I keep finding myself, you know, saying to people during this lockdown period, you know, they are talking about they don’t want to commute, they are happy not, you know travelling one hour backwards and forwards and you know they can work quite happily from home and I find myself saying but you know what about the bars in central London, you know we try to promote London as, you know, this world city and you have to come for the, you know, the culture, the restaurants, the bars, you know, the bars, bumping into people and everything and it sort of feels as if people have sort of lost sight of all that and seem to have just got used to being at home and being local so it will be quite good if we could find a way of actually combining the two. 

Graeme Craig

And for what it’s worth, we will, we are, we will continue to plan to invest in central London.  You know, central London has survived the Black Death, it survived the Fire, it survived the Blitz, you know central London will be okay, of that I am absolutely sure, I think there is the ability to re-balance the city so that we are, you know we are investing in London’s town centres at the same time as we continue to invest in the sort of the West End, the City and zone 1, you know and I think I don’t see the two as being at odds with each other, I think it is possible to achieve both. 

Susan Freeman

That would be a pretty, a pretty good result.  So, you know whilst you are going through this period of just, you know, looking at things, looking at the possibilities, is there anything in particular that you’d like to do within the portfolio that you haven’t been able to do yet and may have been facilitated by the rather strange sort of happenings of the last couple of months?

Graeme Craig

There’s a lot, I mean there’s a huge amount so, you know, like I said I still want us to deliver on the residential portfolio and I think, you know we have made strides even in the last few weeks that means that I am confident about us going well beyond the 10,000 that we said we would.  Playing a part in understanding what the future of office is in suburban London as well as central London well I mean that’s a job for, the job of a life really isn’t it, just in its own regard but also for me maybe even more than those, not in terms of scale, it’s you know, what can we do with our arches, what can we do with London needs light industrial space, you know, London needs more maker space.  Between us we are not doing enough for those people who have got a bright idea and they want to create that idea and introduce it to London.  We’ve got the physical space where people can do that.  We’ve also got the stations and, you know which is where even in a post-pandemic world, you know people disproportionately are in London, to have the ability to give the canvas to young, bright, old enthusiastic Londoners to come forward with their ideas and to help to make it happen, you know, that again strikes me as exactly the sort of thing that an organisation like TfL should be doing.  It’s a fantastic estate, huge opportunity, as you said, you know we’ve got a network that’s already largely SMEs to embrace that and to say that actually that’s the role that we’ve got, to say that we want to be this place where bright people who want to create a start-up to find the space, introduce it to London, you know that for me is a great legacy that myself and the team can leave, giving opportunity to other people to create the jobs, the future, you know the interest and the spark that ultimately is what’s going to ensure that this city continues to move forward. 

Susan Freeman

Yeah, and it would be great if that’s what comes out of, you know, the last couple of months of introspection to actually go back to, you know, being more creative and thinking differently about things, I think that’s great. So, Graeme I have a final question for you.  I know because you have told me that you had not always planned to go into real estate but you actually started off studying medicine and I think you did that for a few years. Do you ever regret not having continued with medicine or are you pleased that you followed the route that you followed?

Graeme Craig

I am not sure my mother has ever got over it but I think for me it’s a good thing and for the world at large that I chose to be doing something else.  I would have been, I was for a while, the worst medic in Edinburgh which is saying something I have to say. These days, I have got a decent pub quiz knowledge so if there ever is a medical round, I am you know, feeling fairly confident on that, whether that’s the best use of five years of my life, I think probably could be argued against.  It does mean that however long the days are here, I have never yearned for how things were in the past and I am sure that must be a good thing. 

Susan Freeman

Thank you. Well, I think you are being a little bit unkind to your medical student self but I thank you, thank you Graeme, it’s probably a good point to stop.  So, thank you very much for your time today. 

Graeme Craig

I have enjoyed it.  Thank you very much. 

Susan Freeman

Thank you so much to Graeme Craig for talking to us so openly today about his amazing role in shaping one of London’s largest property portfolios and do get in touch with him if you have any ideas that you want to share. 

So, that’s it for now.  I really hope you enjoyed today’s digital conversation.  Please all stay safe and join us for the next PropertyShe podcast interview coming very shortly. 

The Propertyshe podcast is brought to you by Mishcon de Reya in association with the London Real Estate Forum and can be found at Mishcon.com/PropertyShe along with all our interviews and programme notes.  The podcasts are also available to subscribe to on your Apple podcast app, and on Spotify and whatever podcast app you use.  Do continue to let us have your feedback and comments and most importantly suggestions for future guests and of course you can continue to follow me on Twitter @Propertyshe for a regular commentary on all things real estate, Prop Tech and the built environment.

Graeme is TfL’s Commercial Development Director and is responsible for its land and property across the capital. This includes an Estate Management function that manages over 5,500 acres of operational land and over 30 offices buildings across London. Graeme also runs TfL’s commercial property function, which is delivering an initial programme of 10,000 homes (half of which will be affordable) across more than 50 sites. Graeme’s team will be developing over two million square feet of commercial offices across seven sites, including at Bank, Paddington and Southwark. TfL has over 2,000 commercial tenants (of which 86 per cent are small businesses) with a large portfolio of retail units in and around stations, as well as over 750 arches across London. All net revenue raised from the commercial activity is returned to TfL to reinvest in London’s transport network.

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