I RECENTLY spent a day at the Northern Way conference - entitled 'Regeneration Momentum Financing and Delivering Regeneration in More Challenging Times' - which is an extravagant luxury for a chartered surveyor, but well worth it.
The event was based around excellent research, headed by Professor Michael Parkinson’s report on ‘How is the Sector Responding, What Barriers Exist and What Practical Solutions Exist for the Recovery Period and Beyond’.
There were also eight other research papers addressing matters that have an impact on the delivery of regeneration, such as the RICS/ARUP paper on ‘Utilities as a Barrier to Regeneration’. I would recommend you click through to http://www.regenmomentum.co. uk/additional-reading.asp and download as many as you can.
The conference was an excellent example of the added value that organisations such as The Northern Way can provide in strategic thinking and direction for economic regeneration in the North of England.
I was delighted two core elements at the conference chimed with my recent columns. Prof Michael Parkinson made it clear the abolition of RDAs – as threatened by the Conservative Party – should not be a matter of moving the furniture to satisfy political rhetoric but on the basis of “deciding what needs to be done and who needs to do it”.
Hugh Morgan Williams, chairman of The Northern Way, also declared an interest in the formation of a regional bank. Debate agreed there was significant money from the region on deposit around the world to form this and that a regional bank would provide good returns for investors.
Interestingly, just last week we saw the launch of Finance for Business North East, the £125m development fund which will focus on high growth businesses and hopes to attract some £160m of private sector matched investment in the next five years. It’s a bank of sorts and very welcome. Back in Bradford, it was an honour to be on a panel to debate the key issues of the day. In summary, the debate highlighted a number of crucial issues.
Limited resources over the next few years will require a more focussed attention on efficient delivery.
In this regard, I would commend the use of the RICS Planning and Environmental Mediation Service as a powerful tool to resolve disputes and positively assist in consultation.
The Low Carbon Agenda was omnipresent; quality standards need to be maintained and not fall to reduce costs as a short term palliative; the north is very different to the south and the Government’s approach of a single solution for all does not work.
The conference agreed that tough times require tough decisions and that brave leadership is needed.
Last but not least we should always remember that this is about people and they need to be consulted.
Kevan Carrick is partner in JK Property Consulting LLP and policy spokesman for RICS North East.