Property and construction in London – collaboration needed

At the London Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s Property and Construction Group, Colin Stanbridge was the moderator when Tony Pidgley CBE, Chairman of the Berkeley group and LCCI President, went head-to-head with Councillor Darren Rodwell, Leader of the London Borough of Barking and Dagenham.

“How did this event come about? Two strong personalities with differing perspectives challenging each other on how to address key issues such as affordable housing, skills, planning, and the greenbelt…”

“Actually it was Darren and Tony’s idea. Last year they both appeared on a panel session and felt frustrated that they had not been able to tackle the issues around housing that they felt strongly about. They therefore challenged London Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) to host an ‘open and honest’ debate about the real issues affecting London.

We agreed to hold it at our Property and Construction Summer Reception. This prestigious networking event is one of the highlights in the sector’s diary and is exclusively for members of LCCI to help them make new business connections, raise their profile within the industry and keep up-to-date with industry trends and developments.

New homes

I was sure that the spirit in which Tony and Darren had entered this event would ensure that the debate would be seriously illuminating and provide insights into both what divides the developer and the council leader and what they agree on. I believe that this relationship is key to how we tackle arguably the capital’s biggest problem on how we build up to 50,000 new homes a year that are within the buying power of Londoners rich or poor.

Passion

Both argued their points robustly: greenbelt, land banking, CILs, Section 106, and costly bureaucracy were all debated with great passion. Deep breaths were drawn by the room full of senior executives from the property and construction businesses when Cllr Rodwell accused the industry of being too focused on profits. Tony Pidgley responded with examples of Kidbrooke Village, where the Royal Borough of Greenwich Council and Berkeley have worked closely for the benefit of the community. It is one of London’s most significant new housing-led developments; a £1 billion regeneration transforming the area into a new community in partnership with the borough and the Mayor of London.

Skills

Questions from Peter Murray, Chairman of NLA on Crossrail 2; Adam Gaymer, Executive Director at Anthology on measuring success of apprenticeships, and Jean Duprez, Director of Duprez training company widened the debate on skills and London’s growth.

In the end, both agreed that the solution to major challenges lay in partnerships between the private and public sector, with Cllr Rodwell citing the work of Be First: Barking and Dagenham’s commercially driven body which is wholly owned by the council and managed by regen eration experts from the private and public sector, and led by Sir Bob Kerslake.

I will end with a sentiment expressed in Tony’ Pidgely’s opening remarks: developers and Councils need a shared vision and once we are aligned and working in collaboration, anything and everything is possible.”

Colin Stanbridge is Chief Executive of LCCI

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