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Building relationships is the key to building homes


Nobel Prize winning Nils Bohr was quoted as saying, “Prediction is very difficult, especially if it’s about the future.”

Over 100 years on and the recent local elections proved that some predictions are more straightforward than others. The question now is will the Conservative electoral collapse at a local level make any difference to the state of the country’s housing provision?

It was certainly the hot topic of discussion at the recent Stonebond Housing Partners breakfast seminar in Birmingham, where Meeting Place was invited to help the audience navigate their way through the new political landscape and what it means for planning.

As tricky as it was to unpick so many results in a morning, the West Midlands has shown that elections can still hold an element of surprise. From Wyre Forest and Solihull where the Conservatives managed to buck the trend and increase their vote share and seat numbers, to Tamworth, Lichfield and Warwick who are all facing down the barrel of precarious coalitions to try and govern with.

The South Warwickshire Local Plan is looking even more precarious now that it relies on a Liberal Democrat, Green Party and Labour partnership to maintain any kind of momentum. This wasn’t lost on the Stonebond breakfast seminar audience either, with the resounding question being how does even more uncertainty help the chronic housing shortage.

On the surface you could argue that it doesn’t, however the positive takeaway is that developers could hold the key to navigating these uncertain times. By meaningfully engaging with politicians as they start their term of office, developers can shape those conversations from the get go. What do these politicians want from the built environment in their district, what do communities need from development to help them flourish, and how can developers fulfil those ambitions and not be seen as the barrier to achieving them.

Stonebond prides itself on its passion for partnerships. Partnering with local authorities and registered providers to create sustainable and thriving communities is one of their core commitments.

For these kind of partnerships to succeed there must be a proactive and constructive dialogue, in the same way as politicians and developers should engage and work together for the greater good. It can and should be a two-way process, and there is currently an untapped window of opportunity for discussions to be had about what development will look like.

Suffice to say, there was a lot to digest in a few hours over a bacon sandwich, however there is one prediction that can be made with ever-increasing certainty – developers who recognise the benefits of building relationships before they think about building homes are the ones I’m putting my money on.

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