Responsible, considerate and thoughtful development should be profitable, both financially and in the way it delivers meaningful benefits for the community, says Ghislaine Halpenny of Regal London


Ghislaine Halpenny is director of ESG and corporate affairs at Regal London.

Today’s real estate industry is facing intense scrutiny, from the initial investment in a development through to the quality of the end product and living experience.

Investment – and particularly whether it is the right sort of investment – is under the microscope as never before. And with good reason. For years, developers have been allowed to pull back from their commitments, often delivering lacklustre schemes without any real consideration for the communities for whom they are ostensibly setting out to deliver.

Responsible development is vital, but it is much more than just delivering a building. It brings with it a host of further responsibilities: a responsibility to build with the climate crisis and sustainability in mind, along with consideration for the impact a project is likely to have on its surroundings.

Responsible development also requires that those involved in a project’s delivery actually support and invest in a community. This can be considerably harder than just assembling the bricks and the mortar of a building.

Crucially, development needs to connect with the local area and people. When a project is being proposed, communities need to be brought along as part of that journey. Their views need to be carefully considered; their input taken on board.

We want to contribute to vibrant existing communities and invest in their sustainable growth

At the end of the day, developers should be delivering something that matters to those in the community: homes, jobs, social amenities, open spaces and leisure facilities.

Outside of the bare minimum, providing such jobs and socio-economic support are considerations which prove a developer’s commitment.


Regal London’s scheme at Wembley in north-west London will deliver more than 1,500 new homes

At Regal London, we have recognised the need to stick to such principles on projects we have worked on. We want to contribute to vibrant existing communities and invest in their sustainable growth, and this comes from listening to what local people have to say about what it is they want a scheme to provide.

Take our projects in Wembley, north-west London. There we have committed to long-term investment in the area, its people and its landscape. We have done this to create healthy spaces that will surpass our involvement and last for generations, along with more than 1,500 new homes.

Housing delivery in the UK is a familiar issue to many. Any responsible developer wants to deliver new homes which cater for a variety of potential residents and will serve communities for years to come.

Along with putting a roof over people’s heads, creating jobs for local people ought to be coming out high on a developer’s wish-list. Various projects we have been involved in have provided jobs for those living in the vicinity and further afield.

Building Heroes Academy

Graduates of the skills academy set up with Building Heroes

Support for local communities can take many forms when a scheme is under development. Our affordable homes partnership with Brent council saw us establish a skills academy with Building Heroes, the leading tri-service military-to-construction charity. The academy provides a supportive environment for learners to experience the construction industry at first hand, developing professional and personal skills and providing a gateway to construction employment opportunities.

Alongside delivering for the community, understanding what buyers want is key to delivering successful schemes. Post-covid this means leisure and amenities on the doorstep, an increased importance placed on the provision of wellness spaces, increased biodiversity and life being made easier – and more enjoyable – for those choosing to walk or cycle.

Responsible, considerate and thoughtful development can be profitable, both in financial terms and in delivering meaningful social benefits. Alongside the needs of buyers and wider communities, and with developers firmly in the spotlight of scrutiny as never before, it is the only realistic approach to take.

Ghislaine Halpenny is director of ESG and corporate affairs at Regal London.