Marketing + Communications

Where are we heading? Reflections on UKREiiF 2024

Good grief. Somebody pour me a glass of ginger ale.

If you’ve been in Leeds for the last three days, you’ll know what I’m talking about. UKREiiF 2024 has been a mad one for all the right reasons. No, not in the 24-hour party people “mad fer it” kind of way. More of a “so many things to see and not enough time” kind of way.

I’m arriving back in Manchester suitably bushwacked and ready for a weekend sitting on my proverbial, letting all the conversations and themes percolate from the comfort of my own home.

Before I do that though, I’d be remiss if I didn’t give avid Place North West stalwarts a run-down of the big conversations and talking points at UKREiiF 2024. I say it frequently but I’ll say it again: the industry is on a journey of rapid change. That change is being pushed by a perfect storm of crises like carbon, the homes shortfall and the skills gaps. With that in mind, occasions like UKREiiF are becoming more and more vital for us to come together as an industry and approach the problems facing us as a united front.

So here’s my quick and dirty rundown of all the major themes at UKREiiF.

Leadership really matters

Leadership was one of the overarching themes of the conference. We need it across all areas, from private business to local authorities and the government, strong leadership is fundamental in setting priorities, establishing culture, and pushing forward change.

Good leaders challenge entrenched beliefs and habits, striving to improve on minimum standards while learning from history and relentlessly pursuing better practices.

You heard it here folks. Time for those of you with the experience and know how to step up to the plate.

Confidence breeds confidence

Another major takeaway was the importance of confidence from local authorities. Like it or not, local authorities have the power to invigorate pockets of development, or to depress them.

When they show the former, this confidence permeates through planning, investment, and ultimately, the building process. It’s a mindset that, once established, can transform entire communities.

When local authorities believe in their projects and capabilities, it encourages investors and developers to share that optimism. This cascading confidence is a boon not just for developers but for the people under that authority, who in turn will reap the rewards of ambitious developments that enrich places and provide good quality homes.

The language of property

The language we use in the property sector came under scrutiny, and rightly so.

Acronyms and jargon like DMR, BTR, and PBSA might be efficient for industry insiders, but they alienate the very people we aim to serve. Terms like “operational communities” and “dwellings” depersonalize the concept of homes and communities. Referring to the built environment as “products” reduces our spaces to mere commodities. This kind of language can create a barrier between the industry and the public, fostering distrust and misunderstanding.

It’s time we shift our vocabulary to focus on value, homes, and people, making our communication more inclusive and human-centric.

Proactivity at the local level

When it comes to legislation and planning reform, we frequently make calls for the government to be decisive and ambitious (often without much success). But what about the power of local authorities to be more proactive?

In a change from the norm, there was a recurring theme of less proactivity from central government and more from local entities. Local authorities, equipped with the right talent, are often better positioned to understand and address the unique needs of their communities.

This shift would empower local leaders to make more impactful decisions, tailored to the specific challenges and opportunities of their areas. Having the right people in the right places and fostering an environment where local expertise and innovation can thrive will be instrumental in overcoming many of the issues facing the UK’s built environment.

The power of collaboration

You guys know the score here.

Not to be cliched or lovey dovey but the only way for us to get where we need to be is to work together, share knowledge and move away from the historically adversarial nature of the industry. This theme was there in abundance at UKREiiF.

Whether it’s between developers, local authorities, or community groups, collaboration drives progress. These partnerships rely on trust, shared goals, and a commitment to working together for the long haul. It’s about moving beyond siloed efforts to a more integrated approach, where everyone’s expertise and resources are leveraged for the greater good.

Wrapping up

So there you have it. A front-to-back outline of my hot takes of UKREiiF 2024. From a personal perspective, it was another fantastic conference that continues to build on previous years’ successes and promises to be a mainstay on the circuit for many years to come. I just hope we can put some of the conversation into action and start making headway on many of the big issues we need to.

And now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m gonna make a cuppa, pop on some slippers, and put my brain on ice.

See you all there again next year.

If you’re looking for a marketing agency to help you talk with conviction about the issues that matter in our industry, contact Luma Marketing today. Our expert team will help you step into the conversation with confidence.

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