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Reflections from UKREiiF 2024

I’ve been reflecting back on my time at the UK’s Real Estate, Investment, and Infrastructure Forum (UKREiiF) in May. Thanks to Women in Planning, and with the support of CBRE UK, I was given the opportunity to attend the event in Leeds this year. The forum was a hub of activity with almost 13,000 industry professionals in attendance and a huge variety of panels and interactive sessions to get stuck into over 3 days.

I started off Day 1 with a great client breakfast event hosted by our CBRE team at HOME, before heading to the UKREiiF campus for Angela Rayner's keynote address. As expected, the focus was on Labour's commitment to address the housing crisis, proposing the creation of new towns to unlock development and deliver growth across the UK.

The modern revival of the new towns movement was something I’d hear a lot about over the three days. While it seemed that nobody could quite agree on how or where these new towns should be created, there was a clear consensus across the industry on the need for expedited delivery of new homes.

The UK has a strong history of creating high-quality new towns and having heard from a number of speakers at the ‘A new era for New Towns’ discussion, one key takeaway was the importance of strong leadership and a clear vision to create high-quality places. The discussion also touched on the importance of continuing to regenerate our existing towns alongside the provision of new towns.

One authority already following suit was Bradford, who held a three-day showcase at UKREiiF, highlighting not only the new Bradford City Village scheme but the regeneration of existing towns such as Keighley and Shipley. Having recently worked on a number of Development Frameworks across these towns, it was a great to hear so many ideas across the week as to how we might regenerate these towns to help drive growth across the wider borough.

At the end of Day 1 I was able to bask in the sunshine at the Canary Bar and listen to the MIX MANCHESTER team present their vision for the UK’s best-connected science, innovation, and manufacturing campus. Working alongside the team at CBRE to prepare a new Strategic Regeneration Framework for the scheme, it was great to see such a buzz around the project and a chance to network with professionals from across the industry.

The wet weather didn’t dampen my experience on Day 2 and the theme of the day was place-based regeneration. My day started with a talk from Peter Denton at Homes England and was followed by several panels discussing how best to fund regeneration. I heard a lot of interesting debates on the efficacy of the current funding system and how local authorities can best prepare for any future opportunities. Having supported on a number of government funding bids in recent years, it was a great opportunity to listen to industry leaders and the emerging insights into how the process might change moving forwards.

In between the sessions on Day 2, I was also able to quickly catch up with my Women in Planning mentor, having been meeting virtually for the past few months it was a welcome change to finally speak face-to-face!

My final day started off with the Women in Planning and AY ‘She Leads: Celebrating Women in Leadership’ event, where I heard from a number of inspirational female leaders. The event provided a great opportunity to network with women from across the industry and I gained some valuable insights into what makes a good leader. One key takeaway was the importance of being authentic in your leadership style and championing your team to have successful and fulfilling careers.

I ended the day with a really engaging ‘Value of Engagement in Design’ workshop where I had a lot of interesting discussions (and had a great time making paper houses!) about the importance of engagement within the design process, and the challenges that come along with it.

Overall, I had a really great 3 days at UKREiiF, so thanks again to Women in Planning for providing me with such a valuable experience for my professional development! I would definitely recommend the experience to anyone looking to attend next year and my advice would be to keep open-minded and to keep your schedule flexible. Whilst you might start out with the best intentions to attend back-to-back sessions, you’ll soon get swept up in all the activity, so just go with the flow!

Laura Hughes, Senior Planner, CBRE

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