Peabody chair was speaking on first day of Leeds property conference

The former head of the civil service has told government it must reset its relationship with the housebuilding and development sector at the opening of a property conference in Leeds this morning.

In a keynote speech kicking off UKREIIF, Lord Bob Kerslake said the industry’s relationship with the government had been made difficult by disagreements over planning policy and the aftermath of the Grenfell fire in 2017.

Kerslake, who chairs the event’s advisory board as well as housing association Peabody, was speaking before visiting investment minister, Lord Dominic Johnson.



Lord Dominic Johnson speaking at the opening of UKREIIF this morning

“The one thing I would say gently to the minister is that the government does need to look at resetting its relationship with the housebuilding and development industry,” said Kerslake.

“To put it mildly, this has been a difficult time in that relationship, in the aftermath of Grenfell and the need to tackle the safety issue, and some very contested issues around planning and development.”

Kerslake who is a Building the Future Commissioner, added: “But we risk seeing housing starts fall to nearly their lowest low since the great financial crash, and we know how desperately we need housing in this country, both market and affordable.

“So, I would say to the minister, rebuild that relationship – let’s get the country growing and building and developing again.”

Johnson outlined to delegates details of the achievements of private investment and regional political leaders.

“The government has been doing a huge amount to ensure that this country is successful, and I believe our levelling up agenda has been at the core of this incredible renaissance in English regional capitalism,” he said.

The conference, which is in its second year, will be visited by an estimated 7,500 delegates over the course of this week.