0370 270 6000

How might driverless cars impact real estate?

4 February 2020

One year ago, the Department for Transport targeted 2021 for having connected and automated vehicles on UK roads.

The car industry has undoubtedly been accelerating R&D projects in this area. ‘Driven’ trialled a driverless car in Stratford London last year. In the US, General Motors’ Cruise launched 2020 by unveiling its vision for driverless shared ownership cabins, and Google’s Waymo announced last week that it would team up with UPS to test self-driving vans in Arizona.

Driverless vehicles have been promised by many as a panacea to numerous ills. Automation could mean efficient traffic management, greater accessibility, tailored public transport, faster travel times and a reduction in the large costs of congestion to business.

There remains scepticism regarding timescales, given safety concerns and that only 54% of UK A and B roads have 4G coverage (or better), there remains a large infrastructure gap to fill. There is also a concerning blind-spot when it comes to bad weather in trials. But even with delays, we might soon start seeing changes to where consumers choose to live and shop. This could well happen within the term of a commercial lease, or impact the long-term viability of developments, and all manner of consequences to our lives and real estate have been theorised.

Greater ease of transport may shift demand for residential space away from densely populated areas. Cheaper car sharing may remove the demand for city-centre car parking and free up space for leisure, retail or other uses. Driverless vans could amplify the profitability of online shopping and click-and-collect. Retail stores may even go mobile and cars might eventually lose ground to automated pods that shuttle goods and people alike.

Likely or not, the scope for innovation is exciting. It would also fundamentally disrupt the real estate sector, as longstanding perceptions of the value of locations adapt. So, flexibility in your real estate portfolio remains critical.

As for what land will have the greatest value in the future? That’s the billion-pound question, you tell us!

Related opinions

Building Safety Bill receives Royal Assent

The new regime introduced by the Act will take shape over the next 18 months, but those who design, build or manage high rise buildings are being urged to get ready for the changes to be introduced through the act.

View blog

Local Health Systems: Relationships not structures

The Local Government Information Unit’s Local Democracy Research Centre report, there are calls for a reinvigorated role for local government as leaders of local health systems, to develop and strengthen relationships of trust, transparency and cooperation.

View blog

Update: building safety repairs pledge signed by over 35 major housing developers

On 14 February 2022, Secretary of State of the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, Michael Gove, announced proposals designed to pressure building developers and materials manufacturers to fund the remediation of unsafe properties.

View blog

The UK’s first domestic subsidy control case

We waited more than a year for it, but the wait is over – we finally have a domestic case on the new subsidy control regime.

View blog

Mailing list sign up

Select which mailings you would like to receive from us.

Sign up