LCCI Property & Construction Breakfast
Today’s post-election panel session hosted by LCCI was an opportunity to focus the industry on some of the key priorities and challenges ahead.
Across the board within Transport & Infrastructure, it seems the issue is that supply is struggling to meet both current and future demands. If we just keep doing more of the same will we ever be able to deliver a cost effective infrastructure that meets the needs of the society it serves? Is it time to embrace change, innovate and make bold decisions by looking at new models for areas such as housing that might present a better solution for everyone?
Key themes included:
General consensus was that it was an exciting time for the industry with infrastructure decisions such as Bakerloo line extension confirmed and further development on Crossrail 2. However the EU referendum could lead to a significant period of investment uncertainty.
Mayoral election could also represent uncertainty in London.
This ever-contentious issue seemed to dominate the discussion with both supply and affordability needing to be addressed. The targets the current parliament has committed to delivering, which have never been met, would require a 13% year on year increase on current levels. However, with an acute skills shortage a bold solution is needed if this is to be achieved.
With salaries in outer London dropping and the cost of getting into London rising, a focus on affordable homes in the Capital is essential to prevent a skills exodus. Right to Buy for London could seriously damage social housing provision at a time when there is more demand for social housing, not less.
With the high cost of brownfield development, heritage concerns over height of buildings and green field development not acceptable, how will the problem of affordable housing be solved?
After numerous housing ministers, consistency of approach is key. There seemed to be a tension between a greater need for collaboration and a unified approach to create a better infrastructure that works for everyone. This contrasts with devolution and local control for better decision making and engagement.
With an estimated 20% shortfall in skills within the industry making construction a more attractive sector is crucial. Improving diversity, apprentice schemes, supporting mid-career changes and embracing new skills such as BIM and Digital engineering could help to achieve this. A more joined up approach, with better long term planning was called for.
Strengthening and improving skills and resources in planning and policy of both the inspectorate and local government is vital.
There was also concern over the EU referendum, its impact on immigration and the availability of skilled workers within the construction sector.
– Written by Trudy Peeler, Head of Transport and Infrastructure
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