RESI Convention 2019 – Round-up
Divisional Directors, Paul Scriven and Gareth Rodwell attended the 2019 RESI Convention in Cardiff in early September.
The first session attended was with Esther McVey, Minister of State for Housing and Planning, who spoke about how the government intend to invest billions of pounds into housing up to 2028, with a target of 300,000 new homes every year. Last year, over one million new homes were built, with 360,000 being affordable. In the process, stamp duty was cut, and help to buy schemes were implemented with the government continuing to help and guide people into home ownership without increasing costs and profits within the industry. Moving forward, the government is looking to expand on shared ownership, rent to buy, right to buy and right to build initiatives, in order to help people own their homes. Only in London has the rate of new homes fallen, with increases being seen elsewhere, such as in Manchester, with an increase of 12%.
She also talked about how new homes post Brexit will strive to be global leadings in housing, using technology hubs, engineering and architecture to lead the way, “supported by the government to support our British public”.
On the day of the conference, the government announced that they would be introducing financial support to local authorities in order to crack down on illegal buildings, as well as investing in zero carbon homes and single occupancy homes (maybe with shared facilities), but not at the cost presented to them in today’s market. The aim is to use modularisation and technologies to support these goals.
Following this, was a talk from Hannah Blythn, the Deputy Minister for housing, who stated that the Climate emergency is the biggest factor we need to solve today. Housing must respond, and the longer we leave it, the worse it will become and the more costly it will be to resolve. Technologies and behaviour are key factors in resolving the challenges we all face, on behalf of the younger and future generations who’s fault this is not!
The next session attended was hosted by Kevin McCloud, Broadcaster and Author, who claimed that many buildings just need remodelling instead of just knocking down. He feels that we need to respect our buildings by upgrading and reusing them, as successful models have shown. To him, space is not just size, it’s about connection and emotional experience. So a room does not have to be big to provide a sense of space and that sequencing of a space can be done at any size. He used the examples of self builds in Bicester which show value and innovation, which could ultimately be the idea of future affordable homes. These ideas don’t just apply to self-builders either, as the construction industry has one of the highest percentages of SMEs, and these ideas provide the opportunity to become more resilient in the delivery of housing in the UK. McCloud also talked about the issues of quality to ensure that we continue to deliver high quality homes, and how a consortium of SMEs could be the way forward. His final talking point was that it is widely recognised that the quality of social housing is often of a better standard and quality than that of open market housing, and that this needs to be resolved in order to deliver quality and sustainable housing.
Furthermore, speakers from Grosvenor explained how adaptable their buildings have been over the years, and how their primary challenge is to maintain the social environment and heritage, whilst continuing to develop for the future as a landowner. They also discussed the many ways to increase heritage value and help with a sense of space and wellbeing, for example the use of existing façades; thus, demonstrating a sustainable solution and approach. HDR | Hurley Palmer Flatt Group continue to consult to Grosvenor on their exciting journey!
Another session was presented by Homes England, who talked about their new mandate to get more plans built as per the five-year plan. They went on to discuss how the technology approach in Japan in the new build housing sector is advanced in comparison to the UK market and is seen as an opportunity to learn and realise the benefit of R&D, tech and sustainability in the industry.
With the support of Homes England, a platform has been created to enable the rise of modularisation. The UK is currently delivering the largest modular building in Europe, which, when started, was the largest in the world! With suppliers looking keenly to build factories in the UK, it’s only a matter of time until modulization is a part of every development, with all indicators suggesting that volume modular construction is here to stay, especially if a downturn does happen and the value can be delivered.
Finally from Homes England state that whilst the market may appear to be stabilising, there are plenty of funding and investment opportunities in London, providing developers remain flexible and reactive to market situations and requirements. While international investment is helping to stabilise the market as opposed to seeing it drop, recent months have seen a lot of domestic investments supported by NHBC, leading to an increase of 23% take up in London.
A positive takeaway from the RESI conference was the sheer number of clients actively engaging both in the conference itself, and the subject of mixed-use buildings. For example, seeing a client of ours (Johnny Caddick from Moda, on a panel discussing ‘How well are we doing at wellbeing and well buildings?’) singing the praises of their proactive thinking and delivery of wellness and wellbeing in the marketplace, combined with their passion to achieve the highest levels of wellbeing for their customers.
Images Courtesy of RESI Convention