What will dominate the headlines in 2024?

2023 was a year characterised by regeneration, skyscrapers, and big government decisions – so what can we expect during this new year?

We asked industry leaders their thoughts on what is in store for 2024.

Duncan InglisDuncan Inglis, director of the North at Homes England

“2024 will see Homes England deepen its place-based partnership working with existing and new mayoral combined authorities, building on the successful model we’ve established with Greater Manchester Combined Authority. Working in partnership means we can more effectively tackle complex long-term projects and provide greater certainty for the private sector.

“The plans for rebooting regeneration in Liverpool including the recent recommendation to establish a new regeneration partnership are particularly encouraging and could accelerate the delivery of major projects from the waterfront through to the new investment zone at Paddington Village.”

Chris Acton, chief executive of Clancy Consulting

“High density city centre developments and satellite town regeneration, namely in the residential and office sectors, will continue to play their part in 2024. Both new build schemes and the modernisation of existing buildings are expected to remain buoyant, based on our North West pipeline, with an ever-increasing focus on delivering greener, healthier places to live and work.

“Confidence continues in the industrial sector with sustainability remaining high on the agenda to prepare for minimum EPC rating changes coupled with net zero carbon targets. On a larger scale, carbon capture and storage is simply common sense in the next step in advancing the transition to a low carbon future.”

Sarah CookeSarah Cooke, regional director for North West construction at Wates

“While we anticipate clients will be cautious in the first half of 2024 due to continued market turbulence, with planning approvals up by nearly a fifth, we anticipate activity to pick up in the latter half of the year.

“Based on the contracts we have secured for 2024, I am optimistic for the year ahead. But we need to focus on the here and now and avoid chasing unrealistic growth. Without true collaborative partnerships with our clients and supply chain to get projects actually delivered, the market won’t see the recovery predicted.”

Phil MarsdenPhil Marsden, managing director of the North West at Muse

“2024 will see sustainability making the headlines once again, with even more focus on delivery. We’ll hopefully see more scrutiny and rigour around environmental performance, with biodiversity net gain increasing in prominence due to forthcoming regulations.

“Demand will continue to grow for high-quality, low-energy commercial buildings like Eden, with occupiers keen to prioritise their ESG credentials.

“Those with a focus on place and creating a positive social impact will be favoured by partners, as towns and cities look to improve outcomes for their communities.”

Simon ArnottSimon Arnott, managing director for the North West at Morgan Sindall Construction

“In 2024, Morgan Sindall Construction foresees a dynamic construction landscape in the North West, primarily focusing on pivotal industries such as life sciences, advanced manufacturing, and materials research – sectors that will see particular interest in the North West with both Liverpool City Region and Greater Manchester being named as investment zones focussing on these sectors specifically. Retrofit, mixed-use regeneration and education will also feature heavily in the market.

“We anticipate a continuing surge in demand for sustainable buildings and infrastructure, leading to a need for more green skills. Strong collaborations and partnerships between public and private sectors will be key in order to unlock the significant potential our region has to offer in this area.”

Jo LappinJo Lappin, chief executive of Cumbria Local Enterprise Partnership

“Strong renewable energy generation coupled with the strong intentions of businesses to decarbonise means the county has a real opportunity to be at the forefront of national leadership in sustainability and become the country’s first net zero county.

“There are also exciting developments and opportunities around Barrow and the growth of major employers like BAE Systems and Sellafield.

“That said there are still some major issues hanging over the county. Our working-age population is in decline with numbers going to drop further in the coming decade.”

Alex RussellAlex Russell, chief executive of Property Alliance Group

“Whilst development activity has been quiet, we have had some significant planning decisions go our way that have been the result of conscientious team work and strong partnerships, which continue to underpin our business model and reputation as a reliable developer. It is these partnerships that will be our strategic vehicle in bringing forward major schemes next year, including Renaissance, Reedham House, and (planning permitting) Upper Brook Street.

“Productive discussions in the last couple of months suggest funding is ready to be invested at the start of 2024, and we expect the focus to be on management and lighter sheds, beds (student accommodation in particular), and life sciences.”

Jamie BottomleyJamie Bottomley, director at Track Real Estate

“In 2024 we’re going to see increased lab demand across the science and innovation spectrum but particularly in advanced materials and from Golden Triangle life science businesses. It’s been almost 20 years since graphene was first isolated so its commercialisation is going to continue accelerating across multiple sectors, including climate and sustainability, further driving the need for life science buildings and laboratory space.

“In the Golden Triangle, life science businesses on historic rents face aggressive increases at renewals, rent reviews, and expansions, and will consider north shoring in a similar manner to the financial and professional services industries 10 years ago in office space.”

Cathy PalmerCathy Palmer, director of regeneration delivery at Walker Sime

“Active travel and transport funding (CRSTS) will double in some areas, available from 2026 onwards but the time to plan is 2024. Local Authorities will need to pro-actively plan to position the funding stream to unlock regeneration projects through a ‘place-based approach’. Those that plan sooner and engage with combined authorities will secure a bigger piece of the pie.”

Danny HopeDanny Hope, regional director of the North West at Hydrock

“Property market predictions suggest continued uncertainty in many sectors across our region. Confidence in the economy amongst investors and developers should return when the Bank of England eventually signals that interest rates can come down. The fact that they’ve stopped climbing will already be a boost.

“The number of masterplans and SRFs coming through Manchester City Council, such as Strangeways, Holt Town, and Wythenshawe, is encouraging and indicates a commitment to growth in a challenging time. As does the DLUHC funding for ‘left behind’ towns, 10 of which are in our region.”

Richard CookRichard Cook, senior director of economics at Pegasus Group

“My hope is that the term ‘growing economy’ dominates the headlines in 2024, although I think the first half of next year in particular will be challenging. We may have avoided a recession in 2023 but productivity growth remains extremely sluggish.

“If inflation continues to fall and interest rates also begin being cut at some point next year, that should help improve the outlook and of course areas like Manchester city centre will continue to attract new investment, regardless of how the economy is doing.”

Stephen CowperthwaiteStephen Cowperthwaite, regional managing director for Liverpool and managing director of UK regions at Avison Young

“In the face of market challenges impacting the private sector, and funding obstacles affecting the public sector, we need to continue to take an integrated approach through public-private sector partnership to unlock further development opportunity.

“Health and life sciences will be a key focus and the investment zone and freeport will facilitate the steady growth of our knowledge, creative, and digital economies.”

Barry CrichtonBarry Crichton, regional managing director for Manchester at Avison Young

“Although we’re likely to see a subdued first half of 2024, Greater Manchester’s resilience as a city region is driving the property market recovery forecasted later in the year. The axing of the Manchester leg of HS2 this year dealt a blow to the region – but we are seeing a new level of collaboration across the public and private sectors as we take a step back, analyse what our city and region needs, and continue what Manchester does best by making a strong case for new investment to support long-term growth across our communities.”

David BattDavid Batt, head of interiors at Fairhursts Design Group

“Prioritising wellbeing and investing in the health of employees and customers will continue to be a major theme in 2024.

“Interior design that promotes conversation, reduces stress, and enhances user satisfaction, will undoubtedly enable brands to stand out in a busy market – attracting the best staff and new customers that align with a strong company culture.”

David LeahDavid Leah, director at Flexible Business Interiors

“Over the past 12 months we have seen landlords and end user clients remaining optimistic about investing in their real estate, and this looks set to continue with a range of opportunities coming through for both refurbishment and fit out projects due to be on site in the New Year.

“Occupier investment has favoured an open plan ‘home from home’ feel with plenty of variety in work settings, social spaces, and the use of biophilia and soft furnishings to help achieve this. This focus on connection and collaboration is something we are sure will continue into 2024 as businesses encourage staff back to the office.”

Michael AllisonMichael Allison, commercial director at Roma Finance

“The rental sector is likely to come under more pressure due to landlords exiting the market, something we have seen increasingly over the past 12 months as costs rise and the ability to monetise investment properties is hampered.

“However, 2024 will continue to present the favourable buying opportunities we have seen in the second half of 2023 where market conditions have allowed small to medium sized housebuilders and landlords to buy better, build better, and work to real time end values to make schemes work.”

Michele SteelMichele Steel, Regeneration Brainery

“In a world of increasingly complex challenges – as well as opportunities presented by emerging technologies and industries – having the most innovative, creative, diverse workforce is a must.

“The more that young people can benefit from real-world experience and connections to industry the better equipped they will be to respond to industry needs. And giving industry access to brilliant talent that might otherwise not be aware of the opportunities available creates the conditions for competitive advantage.

“Getting active with this commitment in 2024, particularly working with the 16 and 17 year olds who are almost work-ready, will start to turn the dial on the creation of a fairer and more prosperous workforce overall.”

James OrrJames Orr, head of industrial and logistics at Royal London Asset Management Property

“While 2022 saw yields on industrial assets being priced for perfection following the pandemic, they have undergone a welcome correction this year creating some exciting buying opportunities, particularly in the North West. Even though supply increased in 2023, rents increased consistently. Next year, we still expect strong rental growth due to the limited supply of high-quality, sustainable space. In common with other sectors, the focus for investors and developers going forward must be on providing space that meets rising occupier environmental, social and, governance standards.”

Your Comments

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Interesting article although I would have been more interested in the views of a more diverse panel of experts. Are there only 4 women with interesting views?

By Anonymous

The Grenfell fire inquiry report will be published in 2024. I expect the report to be highly critical of the construction industry with ramifications for the way high-rise buildings are designed, built and maintained in the future.

By Anonymous

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