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| 3 minutes read

Key Takeaways and Insights from UKREiiF 2024

“Connecting people, places and businesses to accelerate and unlock sustainable, inclusive and transformational investment”, the UKREiiF event gathers 12,000 individuals from a number of housing sectors across the country including housing associations, registered providers, developers, investors, local authorities, law firms and many more.

The wet and rainy three days in Leeds didn’t discourage those there to discuss upcoming projects, potential new business opportunities and network with peers and clients. With over 800 speakers and 30 stages, its festival feel enabled the attendees to listen to inspirational discussions from high level backgrounds. 

Devonshires hosted two discussions across the three-day event, the first dived into “The Collaboration Between Local Authorities and Registered Providers”. The conversation was chaired by Jonathan Jarvis (Partner, Devonshires), who was joined by Caroline Mostowfi (Partner, Devonshires), Caroline Pillay (Interim Director of Regeneration and Development, London Borough of Newham) and Matt Carroll (Director, Altair). 

The discussion touched on the challenges faced by local authorities to meet the need for homelessness, with 145,000 social housing properties required per year, and only 60,000 affordable housing completions in 2023, this deficit shows the “challenge is at breaking point”. Caroline Pillay stressed the importance of partnering with Registered Providers due to Newham having a staggering 14,000 people currently on the housing waiting list. Newham have recently purchased 300 properties from Registered Providers whereby the council will retain the housing management responsibility for their tenants. After questioning, “What is the housing crisis? Is it young people, families or first-time buyers?”, Caroline urges it is across the board and there is no stone left unturned. 

The importance of joint ventures was also discussed whereby Matt Carroll and Caroline Mostowfi considered the need for a clear mutual benefit for all parties for registered providers and local authorities to work well together. Matt identified local authorities essentially bring land and assets to the partnership, whilst Registered Providers bring their expertise and systems to the table. But does this model remain attractive to the market? Difficulties include complexity, time and cost and an early pricing commitment. Taking the time to find the right partner is key for future developments. 

Caroline provided an insightful example of a recent joint venture between Metropolitan Thames Valley Housing and Countryside which took place in 2022 after Metropolitan’s aim was to deliver 2,500 new homes, with over 50% affordable housing including Shared Ownership, as well as commercial units and community spaces. The local authority retained several roles to play, whether it be through planning, their housing and regeneration function or appropriation powers to get the land into play, and therefore illustrating registered providers and local authorities will always remain “natural partners in many ways”.

The second discussion hosted by Devonshires, “Partnering: Working Together to Deliver Homes and Placemaking”, was chaired by Jonathan Corris (Partner, Devonshires), alongside Roger Arnold (Senior Partner, Martin Arnold), Rachel Wood (Senior Property Development Manager, Places for London), Catherine Raynsford (Director, Hyde Housing), Chatinder Bal (Director of Land, Planning & Partnerships, Metropolitan Thames Valley Housing) and Craig Horn (Partnerships Director, Wates). 

The “Q&A” discussion enabled each speaker to give their insight into the topic and touch on their own experiences within the sector. Jonathan Corris questioned “what are the complexities and key challenges to partnerships that have been introduced in recent times?”, which led the speakers to stress the importance of creating an efficient partnership from the offset by understanding each other’s business model, value alignment and understanding where the “end game” is. Catherine from Hyde Housing discussed how Hyde currently has 6000 homes in the programme and 4000 of those sit with housebuilder joint ventures, highlighting the need for clarity within the partnership and “staying in your lane”, whilst being aware of the potential challenges such as frictional costs and lawyers fees.

As joint ventures have slowed down due to market pressures, funding is being provided in different ways, Jonathan questioned “how do you engage in these conversations and how is it approached?”. Essentially, “challenge in the market creates opportunity”; in the past there has been a number of joint ventures with private developers in order to provide the core social purpose of delivering more homes. However, evolution has carried on as Chatinder discussed how Metropolitan are more flexible and open minded to potential funding options. For example, the housing association set up Fizzy Living which worked with the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority, who admittedly is somebody they didn’t think they would work with. However, with the combination of strong alignment, deep pockets and capacity, they were able to kick start development which goes a long way to bridge the funding gap. 

With 12,000 attendees, 800 speakers, 30 stages, 1,500 investors, 250 local authorities and 500 developers, its no doubt that UKREiiF provides the perfect opportunity to grasp a broad knowledge and understanding of the housing sector, whilst networking with insightful individuals across the three-day event. Regardless of the wet weather, it is clear to say “UKREiiF is an event Beyond BELIEiiF”. 


real estate & projects, affordable housing, regeneration, residential development, social housing, developers, government, housing associations, investors, landlords, local government, registered providers, housing sector