Fri 8 February 2019, 2:14 pm
Topics discussed at the eighth Sitematch London event yesterday (7 February) included: the importance of good developer and local authority partnerships, highlighting how crucial affordable housing is in the UK, and a need for the industry to stop talking about "good growth".
Over 220 delegates, made-up of council leaders and representatives, developers, agents and occupiers, attended the networking event in London that included 12 ‘speed-dating’ meeting sessions for the private and public sectors to discuss opportunities, and three workshops.
The workshops focused on public private partnerships, hosted by Wates Residential and the London Borough of Havering; the art of delivering growth, given by Inner Circle, and the last session, examining urban futures: affordable living solutions, by Knight Frank.
Giving the two keynote speeches were Ian Sutcliffe, group chief executive of Countryside, who outlined what he considers sets his company apart from other housebuilders, and what they can offer to potential public-sector partners, and Richard Blakeway, chair of BexleyCo, who spoke of the importance of public and private sector organisations working together.
Welcoming the delegates to the day was Toby Fox, managing director, of Sitematch organiser 3Fox International.
Concluding the day was the leader’s panel, chaired by Inner Circle’s Jamie Ounan, featuring Councillor Steve Curran, leader of the London Borough of Hounslow; Councillor Liz Green, leader of the Royal Borough of Kingston upon Thames, and Councillor David Finch, leader of Essex County Council,
Finch said Essex has “approached what you would call ordinary property and found a unique solution.” He added: “[We] founded [a] housing company where we take the properties we would otherwise have sold and developed them into quality housing, while being able to use them for people with learning disabilities. This eases the burden on social care.”
Speaking from the Hounslow perspective, Curran said: “Developing is about trust and confidence, and relationships. And in today’s world it is still important to meet people face-to-face. I’m old fashioned.”
Green called for a change in language within the industry to stop talking about ‘good growth’. She said: “No normal person talks about ‘good growth’. Residents don’t talk about it. And we need to stop talking about it. We need to talk about building new homes, creating new jobs, new schools, leisure centres, parks: the kind of things people talk about. The industry has not done itself any favours talking about growth and redevelopment. What people care about is their families, and what’s on their door step.”
Those attending the event spoke of the importance of networking at Sitematch. James Leaver, Knight Frank’s head of public sector said: “Sitematch has huge networking value, and we – Knight Frank – get a lot from it.
“We have supported the event for five years and the main thing is this is the main event for London that brings the public and private sector together.”
Coming from outside London, Reniera O’Donnell, assistant director of regeneration for Isle of Wight council, said: “Sitematch helps us make connections with other local authorities and helps us in the Isle of Wight understand how others work with investors and in partnerships.
“Meeting colleagues from Hampshire who are about to embark on procurement, is something we could piggy back on with them. Also, I went to talk to the representatives from Havering – it was great to see what they are achieving and understanding their relationships with their joint venture partnerships.”
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