Day 1

RESI is a little different this year and it's not just the refreshed colouring or rebrand from a conference to a convention.

Having listened to the industry through new bodies like the RESI Senate, this year's RESI is the most interactive and inclusive ever. From inviting the audience to vote on the best joint venture project to participating in a Question Time-style session on the housing crisis, the sector's voice will be heard loud and clear just as Britain enters one of the most uncertain periods in its history, with the country preparing to exit the European Union just as both major political parties are tearing themselves apart.

Focused around the strapline of 'Debate. Diversity. Delivery', the first day of RESI 2018 included pioneering initiatives such as RESI Trailblazers - celebrating up and coming talent in the industry - as well as a #RESIhackathon and an exclusive networking event for SME developers, landowners such as Network Rail and public sector bodies like the Greater London Authority.

The event could not have been more timely, happening on the day Barclays, who sponsored the session, and Homes England, who also attended, announced a £1bn housing delivery fund. Yet rather than being just a meet and greet, practical advice was also offered on how to get onto public land frameworks, raising capital and getting schemes for planning. 

This was swiftly followed by the opening session of the #RESIhackathon, whose winners will be announced tonight. Bringing together property veterans and tech-savvy startups, the aim is to create a solution to the 'rental perception problem's as Property Week editor Liz Hamson put it 'by devising an app that appeals to Generation Rent'.

PropTech was well represented in the RESI Trailblazers, but by no means the only part of the industry to be included. In a sign of how far housing has come, a third of all Trailblazers, who had all been picked by the RESI Senate, were women. Indeed, over a third of all speakers at RESI are women, reflecting the real breadth of talent and knowledge on offer. 

Lastly, Gareth Thomas - the UK's first openly gay rugby player - greeted all RESI delegates with a moving speech on the importance of team work, dedication and being true to yourself. Something to remember as the second day of RESI rolls on.

Neil McKenzie of Blackstock.

Highlights video