The Regeneration Manifesto of the British Property Federation (BPF) gives welcome recognition to some ideas that practitioners in the public sector have been applying for many years
But although the energy of Liz Peace, the chief executive, and her team is to be applauded, I feel there are some areas where quiet analysis would be beneficial. For instance, the BPF criticises the “over-zealous interpretation of EU procurement rules” as stifling councils. The call for the UK government to provide “clarity and certainty” is difficult to achieve as member states implement rather than set EU legislation.
But process aside, why should anti-competitive rules not be used to create a level playing field when local authorities are seeking partners to regenerate sites by providing land for free? Similarly I think that the BPF’s confidence in the Housing and Communities Agency’s private rented sector model is untested and I am sceptical about claims that this initiative has widespread institutional investor support. The model, as a concept, could provide welcome funding but we need to ask some difficult questions: is it really sustainable as a long-term institutional investment class? Do the sums work? Are not land costs (other than at present) in the UK just too high and, as a result, can the yields requires be achieved? Add to this the risk of frequent voids and the costs of repair and maintenance, can the model really hold any attraction for the institutions once the recovery starts?
Helen Meyler, partner, Davies Arnold Cooper