by Aileen Murphy Wed 8 February 2017, 6:08 pm
More than 200 people attended the sixth Sitematch London at Aqua Shard on 8 February, making it the biggest ever.
The event, organised by 3Fox International, aimed at bringing together private and public sector delegates to establish partnership and encourage development through a series of 324 “speed-date”-style 15-minute meetings.
Representatives from more than 50 public sector landowners took part, including for the first time 14 non-London councils.
“Working in partnership is the best way to make things move forward,” said Eleanor Kelly, chief executive of host borough Southwark Council, while giving the opening speech at 9.20.
“I think opportunities like Sitematch help to really raise up the conversation between the public and private sector. It’s about matching the opportunities that exist, in terms of land, to the ambition and desire for developers to build homes, to build commercial properties and to really provide what London needs in terms of jobs, homes and a modern environment.”
Richard Upton, deputy chief executive of U+I, added: “Sitematch is a fantastic idea, bringing people together and starting to build some relationships and trust to get some leverage from that land, so that it is economically productive. We’ve been supporting it for five years and we’ll be supporting it for another five, it’s a great opportunity for people to come together.”
The event has grown since it was first established in 2012: originally 10 boroughs were involved; this year 56 local authorities took part.
Many non- London participants were in attendance to promote opportunities in their areas – including The Isle of Wright, Crawely, Doncaster, Basingstoke, Castle Point, Essex County Council and Basildon.
“The reason we’re here today is that, London is an area where all roads meet, where we get an opportunity to network with people and developers on a national scale and put Crawley's message out there,” said Clem Smith, head of economical and environmental services at Crawley Council.
“We’ve been given an opportunity to have those conversations with developers and partners with whom we wouldn’t otherwise have made contact with.”
Toby Fox, managing director of organise 3Fox International said: “We’ve got all these developers in a room, they are attracted by the London bubble, but while they’re in that room if you’re from Doncaster, you can come down and be introduced to those people.
“They’ll come and say hello and find out what’s happening to your town centre, to your capital expansion programme, your education facilities, your school building programme, the leisure centres you want built. They’re in the room; they’re ready to talk.
“If you’ve got a compelling message, bring it to the developers, don’t wait for the developers to come to you.”
Alongside the speed-date meetings, there were six workshops run by Urban Exposure, Doncaster Council, Montagu Evans, Opportunity South Essex, GLA Housing Zone and HTA design.
Partners for the initiative included Atkins, Curtin&Co, HTA Design, U+I, Urban Exposure and First Home. Inner Circle Consulting, Knight Frank, Montagu Evans and Willmott Dixon took part as advisers.
The event finished at 3.30pm and was followed by a drinks reception sponsored by Atkins Global.
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