November 2013: In Estates Gazette’s autumn Retail supplement, the article entitled ‘A Zone Too Far’ included David Gilbert’s expert opinion addressing the question:  ‘Zoned out – Should the Zone A categorisation be scrapped if, as one agent stated in the summer Retail supplement, “zoning is now one of the single biggest inhibitors to high streets and shopping centres returning to robust health?’

David defended the zoning method if applied appropriately and was quoted stating that zoning is “merely a tool to analyse and value” and that “the real question is: ‘do those who claim to have the expertise to wield this tool really appreciate the limits within which it can be credibly applied?”

He continued: “Problems come when zoning is applied simplistically without reference to the differences between retailers.  Most experienced surveyors will carry out a ‘sense check’ on the rental figures proposed to look for anomalies that might arise from the zoning approach.”   In conclusion David did not agree that the zone-A rent system is as much to blame for retail’s difficulties as others have suggested:  “There are other culprits that should be considered, including the impact of parking charges, the growth of out-of-town supermarkets/hypermarkets and the upward-only lease structure. The basic fact is that many town and city centres are effectively over-shopped.”

As a highly respected valuer, David Gilbert believes that the zoning method it still a useful tool that will enable valuers to establish the correct benchmark.