There’s a different feeling in the air nowadays. Our landscape as property professionals is changing profoundly as consumers demand more of their public spaces, transport systems, amenities, residences and workplaces. And it feels like the industry wants to respond in a more radical, meaningful way.
Both Brexit and the pandemic have shone an almighty spotlight on society and the inter-dependencies we all have on one another. For example, how and where we house our essential workers is as big an issue as it ever has been, and we now consider our high streets as critical societal infrastructure where there is perhaps more opportunity than threat.
These and many more themes are emerging that challenge the status quo in how we address and enable change in our built environment, whilst the climate emergency sits above all of this, leading us to consider development through an altogether different lens.
And this comes at a really interesting time for public sector policy, investment and development. Although a growing trend for many years now, since the start of the pandemic we have observed many councils becoming more and more interventionist, whilst at the same time trying to manage falling budgets. In many cases this has led to better collaboration between public and private sector, with the growing realisation that interests can often be greatly aligned.
The private sector too is becoming much more attuned into social responsibility; where there is change there is opportunity after all. Developer and investor attitudes to the process of delivery are changing and those that don’t innovate will quickly be left behind.
But even if it does afford the opportunity to add value and drive innovation, change doesn’t come easy in the built environment sector. Not real, structural change anyway. Take sustainable development for example. Until recently it felt like we were having the same conversations for the last 20 years: one building standard replaced another, but there was little sign of real disruption at a macro level.
So as we look ahead to our City of Tomorrow, there are a range of wide-reaching delivery-related challenges and opportunities to explore:
- How do we better marry public and private sector in order to enable the changes needed within our high streets and town centres?
- How dependent can we be on public-sector led housing delivery to meet the needs of London’s communities?
- How do we better meet the housing need of London’s essential workers?
- Do our current approaches to delivering affordable workspace really work?
- How does public policy enable or constrain the development of fit-for-need housing and workspace in the right places?
- How might public private partnerships evolve to better reflect the changing circumstances of our city?
- What is the future role of public sector investment in driving evolution and change?
These issues and others will be tackled through discussion between key decision-makers, analysis and examples of good practice underway. If you’re keen to participate, hear more or offer your own views, please get in touch.