Teamwork with developers important for partnerships

Thu 13 February 2020, 5:11 pm

This year's Sitematch London event opened with a panel discussion on what councils are searching for when entering into partnerships with the private sector, with "collaboration" listed as a top requirement.

Toby Fox, managing director at 3Fox International led the introductory panel, which included 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.

The networking event, held at 155 Bishopsgate, on 6 February was made up of developers, architects, industry experts and council leaders and representatives, who attended speed-dating meetings between the public and private sectors to discuss potential opportunities to work together.

Brendon Walsh, from Ardmore Group, spoke about the history of Sitematch discussing how the speed-dating idea was created after a visit to international property event MIPIM in Cannes. He said: “The big thing that comes from MIPIM is the speed of interaction, as you don’t have a lot of time to spend standing around.”

He added: “This is one of the most important meetings of the year because in the room are the people who make it happen. You are the do-ers. The local authority people who are sat on the other side of the table are the people who carry away the responsibility for making things happen.”

Richard Hicks, deputy chief executive from Medway Council, shared details about the plan to build 28,611 homes in Medway over the next 20 years calling it a “massive opportunity”.

He added: “For me this is all about relationships and genuinely about collaboration. What is important for us is we want to deliver for the people and place of Medway – we’re really ambitious around that – but actually what is really important for us is establishing those relationships.”

Stephen Platts, director of regeneration at Southwark Council, said: “There are huge opportunities in Southwark. Our primary political focus is our council housebuilding programme. We’re committed to building 11,000 homes by 2043.”

He said the council in the last 18 months had bought land including eight acres on the Old Kent Road and planned to build 2,500 homes. He added: “We’re not looking to build those all ourselves, we are looking for partners to build them for us.”

Joanne Drew, director of housing at Enfield Council, spoke about the Joyce Avenue and Snell’s Park development in Edmonton, describing it as a “very large estate regeneration scheme”.

She said: “The partners that we work with really have to demonstrate empathy for what the council is trying to deliver.” She added the borough had “a very strong leader and cabinet that are really behind the growth agenda” and the plan was for 19,000 homes to be built in the next ten years.

She shared that the council was starting to look at partnership models that included joint venture (JV) opportunities, and said: “Those JVs must be clearly accountable to the community.”

Drew said the message to the private sector was that “front and centre of our narrative has to be we are working for and with the existing community.” She added: “In terms of working with the private sector, what we want is innovation in terms of solutions that enable the council to present to the community the fact it is in control and working to deliver the best outcomes for the community. Partnerships that help us to do that, particularly in the early stages, are really important.”

To learn more about Sitematch London head to the website: www.sitematchlondon.com

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