Property Intelligence 2014
Set at the heart of the city at the Saïd Business School, a crowd of more than 150 existing clients and local investors were welcomed yesterday evening to Property Intelligence 2014. Aiming to provide insight, the event took a look at some of the hottest issues confronting today’s property industry ahead of the 2015 general election.
Panel: David Edwards, (Oxford City Council’s Head of City Regeneration & Housing), Bob Price (Leader of Oxford City Council), John Glen (Conservative MP), Mark Mann (Liberal Democrat PPC) and Helen Marshall (Director of CRPE Oxfordshire)
As many will be aware of, the Strategic Housing Market Assessment (SHMA) has released figures that Oxfordshire should be aiming to build an additional 4678 houses a year to keep up with an increasing demand. Stripping away the political smoke screen and digging for finite answers, Kat Orman guided the panel though an exploration into this figure and how it may be achieved.
Throughout this relatively unified debate, one thing was certain; all panellists regardless of political views agreed that more houses are needed. It became clear that there was an underlying acceptance that success would equate to a combination of factors: an effective planning process, innovative thinking, robust infrastructure but namely flexibility and successful collaboration between councils, land owners, builders and developers. Local councils must be given the freedom to dictate what is required locally and design bespoke solutions as opposed to adhering to large scale central government schemes. Virtually all panellists acknowledged that the absence of open and candid communication between the relevant bodies will lead the industry to stagnate, causing inefficiency and an industry that is unable to meet the increasing demands that a growing city makes.
As anticipated the green belt was a contentious issue with Helen Marshall posing as a strong advocate for its preservation. In opposition Mark Mann’s commitment to providing increased homes for young and vulnerable people was made evident, arguing that a re-allocation of the green belt boundaries is needed to make way for such development. Helen’s call to increase support for small and medium size builders who are more likely to invest in deliverable Brownfield sites did however attract backing from across the panel, as did the need for improved quality and sustainability of new housing. An element of realism was however injected into the discussion by John Glen, arguing that individual needs of a community must be met and that to build purely high spec developments would out-price local people.
Wider issues concerning the future of the city regarding schools, the NHS, employment and the university also came under microscope as did transport and social inclusion. Whilst many may prefer to reside inside of the city boundaries, how practical is it in reality? Taking all the arguments presented by the panel into account, it is evident that the future of Oxford’s housing shortage will be remedied only by embracing a combination of initiatives.
We would like to thank all of our speakers, panellists, guests and also the Saïd Business School for making the event such a success.