Thu 13 February 2020, 5:11 pm
Private and public sector delegates were brought together for crucial speed-dating style meetings to kickstart development projects at what was described as the "most successful Sitematch" London event ever.
The occasion, held at 155 Bishopsgate, allowed the 250 delegates to discuss topics including the obstacles to delivering housing, green transport and modular homes.
Made up of developers, architects, industry experts and council leaders and representatives, the networking event now in its ninth year included speed-dating meetings for the public and private sectors to discuss potential opportunities to work together.
The day held on 6 February had four workshops including The Art of Delivery led by Inner Circle Consulting and Industrial Strategy – The Electric Revolution hosted by Stantec.
There was also a case study discussion on the Friary Park development in Ealing that discussed the collaboration between a council, developer and housing association led by Mount Anvil, Catalyst Housing and Ealing Council. The last workshop was on Precision Manufactured Homes and was hosted by Mike De’Ath, partner at HTA.
In an opening speech by Toby Fox, managing director of 3Fox International that hosted and ran the event, asked delegates from the private sector – including developers, architects, housing associations and investors – whether they had regular meetings with a council on a weekly or daily basis.
He calculated the five meetings reserved for delegates at Sitematch would on average with travel time and preparation take three working days spread over several weeks. Fox said: “One thing Sitematch is going to do is save you a lot of time and another thing it’s going to do is help you identify local authorities and public sector organisations that want to do business with you.”
He added: “There are clearly a lot of meetings going on, and the purpose of Sitematch is to make those meetings easier for you, and for the local authorities you’re meeting. We have gathered into a single room on a single day 320 meetings between the private and public sector, and we’ve been doing that since 2012 when the credit crunch hit. There was a real worry at that time that the public and private sectors were disengaging, and weren’t talking to each other anymore – and that was the original inspiration for starting up Sitematch.”
Sitematch London has in recent years been replicated across the country with events in Scotland, the East Midlands and for government departments. Fox added: “Along the way we have learnt quite a bit about how the public and private sectors interact.”
He highlighted as well as the “pre-arranged” meetings there were also “unexpected connections” in the networking area of the venue. Fox explained: “We have over 50 public sector organisations here who have given up their time to spend a day or half a day having meetings with the private sector, and that is a really strong indicator of how keen those local authorities are to deliver the homes and the development we so badly need.
“We are trying to put into a room for the private sector the people who can make things happen for you, so these are the people who can deliver for you. You’re in the room for the right people to talk to, and very often in development it almost always comes down to people. It’s about building relationships, nurturing relationships, and making relationships in the first place.”
The day opened and closed with two discussion panels with the first one including Stephen Platts, director of regeneration at Southwark Council; Joanne Drew, director of housing at Enfield Council; Richard Hicks, director of regeneration and deputy chief executive at Medway Council and Brendon Walsh, consultant at Ardmore Group.
Led by Jamie Ounan, director at Inner Circle Consulting, the leaders panel at the end of the day included, Councillor Steve Curran, Hounslow Council leader; Councillor Jayne McCoy, deputy leader at Sutton Council and Councillor Darren Rodwell, Barking and Dagenham leader.
Ounan said he hoped the speed-dating sessions during the event were successful, and there were “second dates” planned for the future. He thanked both public and private sector attendees for their participation at the occasion and added: “This is the most successful Sitematch ever in terms of numbers.”
To learn more about Sitematch London head to the website: www.sitematchlondon.com
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