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Following a packed agenda at UKREiiF, we’re reflecting on a fantastic week of partnering with this event, seeing colleagues chair and speak on numerous panels addressing some of the biggest challenges in the built environment industry.
This new event has been designed to connect people, places and businesses to accelerate the Levelling Up Agenda, whilst unlocking sustainable, inclusive and transformational investment across the UK.
Hosted at the Royal Armouries in Leeds, there were major announcements, including Andy Street declaring that there will be an investment of £4 billion in regeneration, housing and levelling up across the West Midlands.
Here's a run down of what went on…
3 Cities – Driving Regeneration in the West Midlands
Simon Marks, our City Executive, and Kate Gardiner, our Senior Director, joined a session in partnership with the 3 Cities Councils – Wolverhampton, Coventry, and Birmingham. The 3 Cities is a unique collaboration leading the way in unlocking transformative opportunities to accelerate inclusive economic growth, address decarbonisation, and boost investment in the cities of Birmingham, Coventry and Wolverhampton.
Simon and Kate discussed with the three city Chief Executives what this means in practice and how this collaboration will help drive forward the continued resurgence of the West Midlands.
Economy, Society, Environment – How do we create vibrant, high performing places?
Building a new place is the easy bit; how do we make sure these places work socially, economically and spatially? We partnered with this session, which saw Simon Marks asking panellist the all-important questions, such as how do places to residents and investors? How do they appeal to residents and investors simultaneously? How do they integrate mobility to create connected communities? How do they meet the challenges of climate change and attract investment to enable growth?
Simon was joined by Andy Street, Mayor, West Midlands Combined Authority who kick started the session with his announcement about the £4 billion investment. The panel also included Bek Seeley, Managing Director for Development at Lendlease, Mark Chivers – Director General, Government Property Cabinet Office, and Katie Pattison – Senior Associate Director, CRTKL.
Simon noted that “the pace of change for many industries is ever faster. The ability to have flexible, agile places is crucial”. He added that Arcadis was involved with the Nightingale Hospital projects and the “pace, speed and collaboration of industry was a real eye opener, showing what can be achieved together”.
CRTKL’s Katie Pattison pointed out that the company always looks at a place’s unique story and its heritage “what is important to that place”. She said that a “cookie cutter approach doesn’t work” when creating vibrant places.
Meeting the Challenge of Funding Retrofit
We partnered with another session on day 2, which declared that the technical challenges of retrofitting existing assets to meet net zero carbon aspirations are increasingly well understood. The key issues with all organisations are grappling with is how retrofit programmes at scale can be funded. James Knight, our Regional Sector Lead, asked our panel what options exist and how well do they suite a range of different asset owners from registered providers to pension funds.
Rebecca Harlow, our Net Zero Carbon Proposition Lead, said: “We need to embrace innovation and accept that the approaches we have now may not be the final answer. Technology will keep advancing so we need to include enough flexibility in our approaches.” Kate Gardiner added that we “need certainty of funding in order to tackle the challenge of delivering retrofit at scale”.
Next Steps for Devolution Across the UK
Nora Taylor, our Places Client Development Director, chaired an Arcadis panel on day 3, which looked at the challenges and opportunities facing UK places as they push for more control over funding, devolved powers and decision-making levers including an examination of where might be next in line for devolution.
Reflecting on the event, UK Cities Director Peter Hogg, noted that it was “excellent to see so much alignment across the industry on the need for action on carbon reduction in the built environment”.
Peter added: “Clarity and consensus is also emerging on levelling-up – what it is and the practical steps that our city-regions take to enact it – and this is creating an increasing drumbeat of activity. Whilst we are all increasingly aware of economic and geo-political headwinds that our industry will have to navigate, UKREiiF showed that there are still high levels of confidence in the market with no shortage of investment available to organisations who can articulate a clear, compelling plan to deliver vibrant, diverse sustainable places.”
If you have any questions about the topics raised, please contact Peter Hogg.