Tear up the blueprints: Planning and funding Tomorrow’s City

27 / 03 / 2018

We had three fantastic panellists: Peter Cosmetatos from the Commercial Real Estate Finance Council, Victoria Hills from Old Oak & Park Royal Development Corporation and Stefan Webb from Future Cities Catapult.

Wedlake Bell commercial property partner, Suzanne Gill, chaired the debate.

Key themes from the debate were:

  • Decision making – should strategic placemaking decisions be made in the public or private sector? Currently decisions are made by large private institutions following viability assessments. Cuts in local government funding have created ‘planning by numbers’ approach. Decision making at micro level makes schemes vulnerable. Strategic intervention by a strategic authority is needed. Who should it be?
  • Digitisation and automation – an urgent need for digitisation of the planning system and use of automation in the construction process. Increasing interest in property from tech industry players may accelerate digitisation timescales. Investment in modern methods of construction (MMC) is key. MMC will deliver more homes, quicker and help reach targets.
  • Planning data – huge scope to improve data and increase opportunities for data analytics. Good data will bring more informed decisions and wider benefits. Data analytics software is likely to cost less than consultants, freeing up time for consultants to use their expertise.
  • Funding – the current regulatory framework for lending is restricting investment. Only the best deals get through. New funding structures and legal precedents are needed to enable change. Who takes the risk in making the changes which are needed? A role for lenders and lawyers in driving improvements in the process.

Our straw poll result: the majority thought the planning system (not lending restrictions) was the biggest barrier to solving the housing crisis in London and the South East. The challenge for the property industry is to implement the changes which are needed.

Look out for future Tomorrow’s City, Today’s Challenge debates, which we’ll let you know about. We are planning a Senior Living debate for 2018 as part of a housing series. To be added to our invite list please email us at events@wedlakebell.com

In the meantime keep up to date by following @TomorrowCityWB on Twitter – and let us know your thoughts and views.