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Since 2020, our strategy has sought to address several key challenges: the climate crisis, our role in the community and property market disruption.
We believe that, as a progressive and active property owner, balancing growth, environmental and social aims can lead to better outcomes not just for our business but for all those who rely on our neighbourhoods.
This long-term view enabled our places to exit the pandemic in good shape and has ensured their resilience and relevance at a time when occupiers are seeking more from their property partner and expectations of business’ contribution to society are on the rise. There’s great momentum behind this focus and it continues to be a highly motivating factor for our people.
Particularly notable in 2022 was our progress towards net zero. A 24% reduction in our carbon footprint since 2019 has largely been achieved through our extensive retrofit programme and innovations to reduce the impact of development activity.
Our commitment to improving the quantity and quality of public green space also took a major step forward in the year with Westminster Council’s unanimous approval of our plans to transform Grosvenor Square into a biodiverse urban garden.
And to support the innovation needed to meet our goals, we invested directly in the first of several young companies and technologies disrupting how the sector operates.
As an active property owner, we also sought to enhance the articulation of our social purpose in 2022, expanding our ambitious sustainability agenda to encompass social impact goals.
Sustainability metrics are now built into decision making, ensuring everyone in the business considers, and can assess, the impact of our decisions holistically.
This ongoing investment in a low-carbon future, distinctive destinations that inspire and innovation has kept demand competitive. At the year-end, our onsite development pipeline was over 50% pre-let at better-than-expected rents and vacancy rates in our London and Liverpool retail portfolios stood in the low single digits.
In 2023, we continue to focus on delivery. This year, our first net zero office development will complete fully let and works will start on our two-acre South Molton Triangle scheme, supported by our new partner Mitsui Fudosan. A new residential debt strategy will support housing delivery in areas of acute need; and our retrofit programme will hit a one million sq ft milestone, helping communities by making business premises and homes more energy efficient and cost effective to run.
In all this, we remain mindful of the broader economic picture. With a focused development pipeline, new services to support occupiers and a holistic people and planet positive approach to sustainability we are well prepared for a challenging year.