Property & Regeneration Lunch Key TakeawaysMonday, 2nd December 2019
Blog by pro-manchester comms manager, Mel Hill
Our annual Property & Regeneration lunch was once again a massive hit, attracting over 150 business leaders.
Consisting of two expert panels and a delicious two-course lunch, it’s no surprise this is a favourite in our chair, Jenn Hazlehurst’s calendar.
Jenn, also partner at EY opened up the lunch commending the excellent collaboration the property committee had shown over the last 12 months, bringing together a wealth of speakers at our lunch as well as industry-leading experts for other key events in the pro-manchester diary.
Jenn handed over the reigns to our Property & Regeneration Co-chair, Heather Gray. Heather, business development manager at Bruntwood begun by explaining how the collaboration of Greater Manchester’s property sector is the key to success: “Greater Manchester has set some ambitious targets, which the property sector hasn’t taken on as a tick box exercise,” explained Heather. “It’s something we, particularly at Bruntwood have welcomed with open arms. There is a huge need for creativity to encourage young people and diverse individuals who can contribute to this sector going forward,” continued Heather.
Heather also finished her introduction with a touching tribute to the late Michael Oglesby, founder of Bruntwood and well-known philanthropist in our region.
The first panel discussed property investment in our region. The panel consisted of Tim Newns – CEO, MIDAS; Gerry Brough – Corporate Director of Place, Bolton Council and Alex Garland – Corporate Relationship Director, Together.
“There are many things that Greater Manchester is exceptionally strong at,” says Tim. “If you look at Manchester in relation to ‘the big six’ we are double in capital investment. We are currently outperforming huge global cities in terms of inward investment. Only Barcelona and Dublin are on par with us in terms of the amount of jobs we’re currently creating.”
Gerry added: “Manchester has responded to demand investors looking for office space. We’re now moving into a phase where Bolton, Bury and other surrounding areas are benefitting from the city’s investment successes.
“These surrounding towns are coming into their own, with lower rent and lighter infrastructure it’s been seen as a really strong alternative to city working. These places are unique in their own right so it’s not just Manchester we should feel optimistic about.”
Alex agrees with the infrastructure issues Manchester is currently facing for commuters: “Transport is the key issue. We need further investment into this as we grow, and more importantly, further connectivity in the region. With this, I can see why surrounding areas are currently facing a knock-on effect and benefitting from those who don’t wish to commute into the over-crowded city.”
Excitement is now building in the region, says Tim: “Once an area grows momentum, other areas build and grow and I’m really excited for what’s next.”
Our second panel discussed the future of housing in Greater Manchester. The panel consisted of Cym D’Souza – Chief Executive, Arawak Housing Association; Andrew Bickerdike – Director, Turley; Suzanne Benson – Head of Manchester office, Trowers & Hamlins and Siobhan Ryder – Head of Business Development (North) ilke Homes.
“As a social housing provider, we’ve seen a move towards ownership and affordable housing, but there’s a limited tenure being produced,” says Cym. “What we’re actually seeing on the ground is people following the grant for low cost ownership offers but there’s definitely a diluting down of tenures.”
Andrew says: “we’re still reliant on a small number of house builders who build in a certain manner in greater Manchester. We’ve been successfully tapping into the apartment market, but there’s a gap where we have 3-4 bedroom family homes in suburbia, modern city centre apartments, but no middle piece being built where there’s actually a huge opportunity.”
“Manchester itself is a thriving city but there’s been a dilution of what makes a place great,” added Cym D’Souza. “If you want a diverse community, then you have to provide different products. Large-scale developers think the city needs high rise, modern apartments with a balcony looking over the bright lights, but this doesn’t create a thriving place to live.”
Siobhan says: “For me, the lives of the people you change for the better in these communities are the real stories we need to capture. We also have to build energy efficiency into our products like other leading countries are.
“If our buildings were 20% more energy efficient, annual fuel bills could be reduced by approximately £300. This needs to be factored in when manufacturing unlike traditional housing models.”
Suzanne said: “I think it’s good that there’s more conversation being done now. Traditionally we’ve looked at rentals moving into ownership but how you access rental or ownership are entirely different. That requirement will change during the course of your life.”
With the current political landscape, it’s clear that there is also some unrest in the property sector. Innovation is required in what is a very traditional industry, according to our experts. We look forward to seeing how much has changed over the course of 12 months at next year’s lunch.