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    Blog by Julian Curnuck

    Our week at UKREiiF

    28 May 2024
    A 3 minute read by Julian Curnuck

    Last week, colleagues from Urban Splash attended the annual UKREiiF property event in Leeds, actively shaping industry discussions by participating in various debates.

    Our CEO, Julian Curnuck, along with Suzy Jones, David Warburton, and Akeel Malik, engaged in panels and roundtables, sharing their insights on key industry issues – with housing policy talk reaching fever pitch on Wednesday as the Prime Minister announced the forthcoming General Election.

    Park Hill was even celebrated, earning recognition as part of a Heritage England initiative unveiled at a UKREiiF event too. Here, Julian tells us more.

    Our vision for a ‘city on the beach,’ at Swansea

    It was great to see so many familiar faces at UKREiiF this week, the industry’s real estate and investment forum. And we had a lot to talk about, from development to regeneration – and of course the General Election and possible future housing policy.

    For us though, it was an opportunity to discuss the work we've been doing at Urban Splash in recent years – a period during which we have focused on designing and developing new places that we will soon bring to life. One such place is Swansea, and at Wednesday’s Swansea Council event, my colleague David Warburton presented our vision for a ‘city on the beach,’ outlining to delegates the work we’ve been doing to evolve plans and create a liveable city model.

    Julian Curnuck takes part in a roundtable discussion at UKREiiF (image credit Roger V Moody)

    I also discussed future plans at UKREiiF, highlighting the work we’ve been doing in planning new projects during a roundtable discussion chaired by the Department for Levelling Up, Housing, and Communities. The event focused on the role of mixed-tenure housing in addressing the housing crisis, giving me the chance to talk about places like Park Hill, where we’ve committed to long-term regeneration, adding value through a phased approach that creates homes of mixed tenure – whether outright purchase, rent, or shared ownership.

    Park Hill in Sheffield

    As I mentioned during my talk, this approach isn’t the cheapest or quickest, but it aligns with our intention to make Park Hill, like many Urban Splash developments, a neighbourhood for everyone. From the outset, our design aimed to offer a range of housing types to attract diverse occupiers at various price points. We've achieved this with the approximately 700 homes already completed, even including student accommodation.

    However, achieving such nuanced housing solutions alone is not feasible, something that underscores the importance of partnerships. This was emphasised at the event, where central government, local authorities, and developers united to acknowledge past achievements and explore future possibilities. Collaboration becomes especially pertinent as we work together to level up more towns and cities and provide more sustainable housing options.

    Director of the Future, Suzy Jones, speaking at UKREiiF

    UKREiiF gave us all food for thought in that endeavour; my colleague, Suzy Jones, represented Urban Splash in another engaging debate on curating cultural ecosystems within large-scale regeneration projects. This is a concept we've successfully implemented across our portfolio, platforming makers, artists, and creatives by providing accessible, flexible, and affordable workspaces, allowing them to contribute to the vibrant communities we cultivate. From the aforementioned Park Hill, to places like Royal William Yard in Plymouth, where galleries and artist studios thrive alongside a burgeoning neighbourhood, we've demonstrated the power of integrating cultural elements into urban regeneration.

    Director of the Future, Suzy Jones, joined a wide range of industry figures at UKREiiF

    Across our portfolio, we've also preserved heritage and original fabric – something that was celebrated at UKREiiF, when Heritage England unveiled its ‘Heritage Works for Housing' project to delegates. The project sets out how heritage can work for housing and aims to enable and facilitate the reuse of historic buildings to deliver more homes and better outcomes for all, with Park Hill featured as an example of restoration.

    Our time at UKREiiF was insightful, thought-provoking and informative. We look forward to next year.

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