You may not be aware that Transport for London is a property owner, manager and developer as well as being a public transport authority. 😲 We caught up with Inderpal Matharu, Dominic Garman and Opportune Simon in the Arches Property Management team to discuss their role in supporting small businesses across London. 🛍
What do the Arches team do?
As the name suggests, we manage a special type of property – railway arches. These are the units you can find under operational Tube, Overground and DLR tracks. 🚇 We have hundreds of tenants who we work with to help choose the right location for their customers, help with their business challenges and look after property maintenance. 🔧
We sit in the TfL Property Management team which looks after over 2,000 properties.
What does a typical day look like for you?
Inderpal and Dominic: Our roles day-to-day are very varied. We carry out the regular work of MRICS Chartered Surveyors working in property management – dealing with lease renewals, rent reviews and maintenance issues. In addition to that, we talk to our tenants daily about their future plans and how we can assist in helping to expand their businesses. This could involve additional premises or alterations to their existing ones to better suit their business needs.
Opportune: As a Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors candidate, I am on a two-year scheme to prepare for my Assessment of Professional Competence and pass my chartered qualification. This means that I am able to work with my own portfolio and get to know tenants personally, but I also get to experience the rest of the property side of TfL.
What kind of businesses can we expect to find in the arches?
93% of our tenants are small and medium businesses. 🛍 This means we offer one of the most diverse and varied portfolios in London with tenants ranging from independent gin distilleries 🍸 to MOT stations 🚖, local cafes to world-recognised artists. 🎨 What’s great about having a business located in one of our arches, is that you’re always only a Tube ride away!
Why are the arch properties ideal for small businesses?
Our portfolio includes a large number of generally small to medium sized units spread across Greater London and centred around the transport network. 🚉 This means that as a small business grows and develops, we can assist with offering additional units – either in the same location or in similar locations across the network. Our estate also offers huge flexibility; from businesses wanting to test a new idea 💡 for an hour or two at their local station, to growing businesses wanting to expand across the City 🏙 with the ease of working with one landlord.
How have you been supporting your tenants throughout the pandemic?
Over the past 18 months we have been working hard to improve our service to our tenants. They have benefitted from us working in partnership and sharing the impact of the pandemic – this included rent credits to all from March to September 2020. We will continue to help our customers, accompanying them in the journey towards a recovery for London.
We know that businesses across our portfolio have been severely impacted by the pandemic so we’ve targeted our support to be specific to individual tenants’ needs. Part of our decision-making was based on how the support would help our tenants to maintain, reopen and recover their businesses for the long-term. This just goes to show the important role that surveyors play in guiding the recovery of London and other cities across the world.