RESI roundup, Day 2: Levelling up

Back RESI roundup, Day 2: Levelling up

Day 2 of RESI began with the traditional keynote address from the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government Rt. Hon Robert Jenrick MP.

Jenrick told delegates that the government is looking to the future and prioritising building the homes and infrastructure that the country needs. The focus he said must be on “levelling up the country and giving access to good quality housing to everyone.”

“We can’t just build homes to live in”, he continued, “we need to build places we can be proud of.”

The property market has demonstrated resilience and robust health, even in light of the pandemic, and has played a pivotal role in avoiding a national recession.

Housing and home ownership continue to be at the forefront of the government’s agenda, but they are also treating BTR as an important component in meeting the need to build more homes and ensuring high quality, well managed accommodation in the rental sector.

The pandemic has meant many people are rethinking what they want from their homes and communities and with so many people still living in substandard living conditions, the need to respond with more and better homes is more important than ever.

“Home ownership shouldn’t simply be reserved for a lucky few”, Jenrick said, and announced the allocation of 8.6bn to major affordable home builders.

Jenrick remarked on the government’s increasing interest in MMC and outlined its importance for ensuring homes are built to high standards, meet environmental targets and are built quickly.

Additionally he outlined the 150million set aside for the to help to build equity scheme, that aims to bring help to buy for those who want to build their own home or have a custom built home.

The government is currently working on modernising the outdated planning system - “a system that is often too slow and produces poor outcomes and commands low public trust.” The result will be a “faster, digital and more predictable system.

” Jenrick concluded by inviting the property sector to be ambitious through investment and planning. “Together”, he said “we can build better, safer, greener homes and communities for everyone.”

Read the full coverage in Property Week >

After the keynote, Lawrence Bowles, Director of Residential Research at Savills proceeded to share key analysis on future trends in residential development. Using the Olympics as a comparative theme throughout the presentation, he explored the pressures on housebuilders from material costs to CO2 emissions.

Among Bowles predictions were the rapid climbing of BTR investment (much like the accompanying image of Olympic climbers!) with an increasing number of developments in single family and suburban build to rent with more green space, and decrease in multi-family urban projects.

Ultimately, as Lawrence outlined, ‘We need to all do our part to accelerate housing delivery’.

The proceeding CEO panel discussion looked at the post-Covid challenges in the residential sector. Jason Honeyman CEO, Bellway, Jon Di-Stefano, CEO, Telford Homes, Olivia Harris, Chief Executive, Dolphin Living and Nigel Hugill, Chief Executive, Urban&Civic chatted to Mark Easton about the price of saving the planet, and how much people are willing to spend for a greener home as well as social value. Oliva Harris explained: “We need to measure and report better against our social objectives - we already measure against financial objectives but we are also responsible for delivering the social.”

While the physical delegates networked, the online viewers tuned into a virtual roundtable asking: Could the drive for improved environmental efficiency increase adoption of MMC?

During the conference morning tea and networking break, an online virtual roundtable was chaired by Richard Valentine- Selsey, Research Analyst at Savills. The discussion was centered around whether the drive for improved environmental efficiency could increase the adoption of MMC. The overall commentary leant towards yes, but not without factoring hurdles such as supply chains, improved planning systems and an education process.

With everyone back in the room following the break, Property Week’s Liz Hamson lead a panel discussion on decarbonising the housing sector and was joined by Joseph Daniels, CEO & Founder, Project Etopia, Oliver Novakovic, Group Technical and Innovation Director, Barratt Developments, Luke Driscoll, Asset Management Director, The Hyde Group and Alex Notay, Placemaking and Investment Director, PfP Capital. Emissions from residential properties are considerably higher than non-residential, and the panel asked why the residential sector is lagging behind and how this can be changed.

Joseph Daniel’s Project Etopia is at the forefront of tech inspiring the change. “All of our problems with net zero can be solved through tech”, claimed Joseph, who then outlined Etopia’s tech offering and stressed the importance of engaging the consumer through user-friendly technology that can make energy usage in the home more visible.

The panel agreed that we are very far off the government’s targets for a net zero 2030, with lack of data being a fundamental challenge. Nevertheless collaboration will be key for making sure we make significant change, “You have got to take steps that are small and significant”, concluded Joseph, “we’ve got to take this journey and we’re all in this together.”

Oliver Symons, Head of LandFund, LandTech, Simon Rawlinson, Partner, Arcadis and Richard Harris, MD for Group Delivery, Watkin Jones Group then led a panel discussion on surviving the cost increase spiral, exploring issues around both supply and labour shortages as a result of Brexit and the pandemic, and what we can do to resolve them.

The afternoon continued with more in-depth discussion on levelling up and how regional and city leaders plan to unlock economic growth through housing, with Andrew Johnson, Royal Borough of Windsor & Maidenhead and Jason Longhurst, Place.

Kitty Ussher, Chief Economic Advisor, Demos disclosed how the economy was faring, detailing that £344 billion was spent on pandemic related measures that have been put in place. “The market has been exceptionally strong due to a combination of the stamp duty cut, low interest rates, households reappraising their requirements and a huge pile of involuntary savings boosting cash buffers.”

Kitty also spoke about the biggest rise in corporation tax that is coming in April, and summed up with a positive outlook for the future and reassuring predictions. “The biggest concern for the residential sector is the availability of suitable units for home working for people on lower incomes in densely built areas. It will be interesting to see whether the so-called ‘levelling-up agenda’ is helped by greater home working: office workers may move to areas previously considered off the map for commuters.”

Read more in Property Week's Q&A with Kitty Ussher >

The day continued with 'Show me the money' and our panel of finance experts from Barclays, LGIM Real Assets and Precis Capital; followed by international case studeis from the East Sweden Chamber of Commerce and Common who believe that 'affordability is the best amenity' and that the co-living sector has consolidated as a result of the pandemic.

The event closed with Laura Jane Clark and Julian McIntosh from the TV programme Your Home Made Perfect giving us the indsiders' consumer perspective, and a view from Mark Easton as he wrapped up for 2021. 

Anna Beketov, Account Manager, Blackstock

RESI Convention and Property Week events are part of Emap, Metropolis International Group Ltd