The paper discusses the long-term relationship between property investment and urban economic change which is in turn the consequence of changing transport and industrial technologies. This is exemplified by the decentralisation of economic activities and population suburbanisation that has transformed the spatial structure of cities in the UK over the past 30 years. As part of this process, new property forms have evolved including retail parks and office parks. The paper examines the consequences for the property market and the responses of the planning system and institutional property investors that have traditionally viewed property as a long-term investment medium. The analysis begins by considering the context of urban economic change. The heart of the research examines the changing structure of property portfolios and the development of investment markets for these new property forms. The pace of urban change is shown to be slowed by property investment responses. © 2009 Urban Studies Journal Limited.