The economic uncertainty triggered by the global pandemic has been a reminder of the aftermath of the 2008 global economic crisis.

Mike Woolliscroft

Mike Woolliscroft

Thankfully, the outlook for property is far more positive now than it was then. Measures to suppress contraction of the market, mainly through business support schemes, the stamp duty holiday and extensions to Help to Buy, are working.

The fundamental need for high-quality housing remains extremely high, but Covid has put a spotlight on other challenges.

Clearly, we are entering a long period of economic recovery that calls for greater focus on what can be achieved through development, especially in regeneration projects. This is not new, but it is far from simple.

Timing is a factor; the backdrop to development is evolving quickly, not least because of the important drive towards net zero carbon. Residents’ expectations are also changing, as are requirements on and of building owners; new grant conditions are coming into place and there is significant regulatory change. Project economics are therefore becoming more complicated.

Optimising the positive contributions our schemes have on local areas and communities will depend on organisations working together, which is even more important as the complexity of projects increases.

As a minimum, this means collaboration between local authorities, building owners, housing associations and developers. Meaningful engagement with communities, businesses and public service providers is also key to determining the right design, but it is equally beneficial to our strategies for community development, investment in local business and job creation.

Countryside is measuring social value across all live projects to inform improvement

With authorities facing rising job losses in their communities, increased reliance on emergency accommodation and accelerated online shopping trends making some traditional retail non viable, recovery plans are being put in place. How developers engage and contribute to this process is clearly very important.

The principles of the Social Value Act are a great starting point. Targeting positive social, economic and environmental impact through procurement should be the norm for public and private projects. Countryside is measuring social value across all live projects to inform continuous improvement.

Collaboration between parties joins up resources and knowledge to improve the effectiveness of design and delivery strategies. This is important on a number of levels: from creating schemes that best deliver the aims of local plans; establishing the network of resources that is key to achieving high levels of local employment and training during delivery; and in the management and operation of the facilities.

We hope schemes delivered in this decade will be measured by a broader range of criteria. The importance of design, build quality, placemaking and environmental impact will still be priorities, but we expect the social value created by schemes to get greater limelight and be a positive change.

Collaboration will improve the outcomes of our projects and help ensure that the places we create are where people want to live, work and ultimately love.

Mike Woolliscroft is chief executive, partnerships south at Countryside