Property development by British Gas since privatisation
This research examines property development by British Gas since privatisation. Previous literature on land and property development processes, business management, privatisation and urban regeneration, is reviewed. Property development by British Gas is considered not as an isolated process, but within the wider context of privatisation, economic restructuring and urban regeneration. Since diversification into property dealing and development, British Gas has sought to transform many of its former gasworks sites. Over the years, these had become disused, derelict and surplus to its operational requirements. This strategy has established a property development company within British Gas. The process and extent of British Gas's property development is examined in detail. However, it is argued that this activity is not fully understood unless related to wider driving processes. It has been possible to address this problem using Structure and Agency theory, the approach underlying this research. From this theoretical perspective, a hierarchy of driving processes, from privatisation and market forces to corporate reorganisation and business strategies, is identified. Some of the difficulties of connecting structural processes to activities of agents may be surmounted through definition of the boundary between the two. This approach has been necessary to explain why British Gas became a property developer. Departing from its traditional, more passive approach to property development and, in consideration of the contaminated nature of its surplus sites, it is argued that these wider processes and corporate property strategy have led to a proactive approach to development by British Gas, during the 1990's. This research has thus aimed to establish a relationship between a hierarchy of forces that have driven the British Gas development process. Future property research, by applying the Structure and Agency perspective, can develop it and add to understanding about how and why corporate property development interests and pursuits change.