Driving the Levelling Up Agenda at UKREiiF
We have long considered collaboration to be crucial in achieving our purpose of creating thriving cities. There’s an interconnection between our colleagues, customers, communities and local and national governments, and this should be reflected in the sharing of information, responsibilities and a general spirit of togetherness if a city is truly to succeed.
The question of collaboration was raised afresh with the publication of the Levelling Up White Paper in February, in which Wolverhampton was named, along with Sheffield, as an initial area of focus for the programme through investment to support city-wide regeneration. The Government’s intention to remediate brownfield land in the city will require a renewed approach to public and private collaboration to bring about sustainable change combining retail, business, housing and green space.
It was therefore timely that three of our senior leaders engaged last week with these issues at the UK’s Real Estate Investment & Infrastructure conference (UKREiiF), which connected people, places and businesses from across core UK cities to discuss the key points around Levelling Up.
Sharing their expertise were Rob Valentine, Director for Leeds and Birmingham; Jessica Bowles, Director of Strategic Partnerships and Impact; and Dr Kath Mackay, Director of Life Sciences at Bruntwood SciTech. Rob’s focus was the strategy for Wolverhampton.
Change Through Collaboration
Joined by the Leader and the Chief Executive of the City of Wolverhampton Council, Rob sat down to discuss why the city is positioning itself as the ‘National Centre for Sustainable Construction’, highlighting existing key schemes and future opportunities. Also on the panel was Alison Crofton, National Development Director at Homes England.
Discussing the strong investability of Wolverhampton through its key specialisms in the built environment, the opening of the National Brownfield Institute, and the relocation to the city of the Department for Levelling Up Homes and Communities, the panel brought out some of the existing work being done as part of the ‘3 Cities Initiative’ (between Birmingham, Wolverhampton and Coventry) and looked at what’s next for the Wolverhampton city region.
Rob said, “Wolverhampton is a city with strong, stable leadership which we feel has the long term capabilities to deliver technological advancements within the built environment, working in collaboration with academia and the public and private sectors. The ambitions laid out by the City also align with our firm commitment to sustainability and the circular economy.”
Reducing Inequality Through Strong Partnerships
The importance of a congruity of purpose in forging strong local partnerships was echoed later in the week by Jessica Bowles, our Director of Strategic Partnerships and Impact.
Jessica took part in the ‘Conference Highlights and Forward Look’ panel hosted by Kayode Akinola, UK Public Affairs Director at JLL in the Future of Real Estate Pavilion. Alongside Tim Heatley, Co-Founder of Capital and Centric, and Charlie Schouten, Northern Editor at React News, Jessica discussed the role of a purpose-led approach to delivering real change in partnership with local authorities.
“There has always been a clear sense of purpose at Bruntwood’s heart,” she said. “This includes leading environmental change, reducing inequality, improving health and wellbeing, and creating culturally vibrant places. And if we’re going to create good partnerships, we need good partners.”
Going on to explain how this plays into regional growth, she added: “The amount of money that has come out of local governments over the last decade has had a major impact on their economic development functions. We have to think creatively about how we can support local authorities to deliver, including bringing in other public sector parties. The greater alignment we can get on what our mission is, the greater success we will all have.”
Supporting the Levelling Up Agenda Through Science
Of course, along with strong partnerships, Levelling Up also relies on robust investment into growth industries, with science and technology being a crucial area of focus. This too was an important topic for us at the event, with our Director of Life Sciences, Dr Kath Mackay joining a panel on ‘Developing Science & Innovation Places to Prepare UK PLC for Global Investment’.
Representing Bruntwood SciTech, a joint venture partnership between Bruntwood and Legal & General, Kath shared insight into how our science and tech strategy is supporting the Levelling Up agenda.
As the UK's leading property provider for the science and tech sector, Bruntwood SciTech is uniquely positioned to offer valuable insights into how purpose-built campuses are set to underpin the sector’s trajectory of nationwide growth. It also allows us to draw out ways to enable science and tech companies to form, scale and grow when established alongside dedicated innovation services including access to finance, talents and new markets.
Alongside Minister for Science, Research and Innovation, George Freeman, and a host of developers, occupiers and policy makers, Kath focused on increased R&D spending and the need to create world-class campuses and working environments, delving further into our strategy behind increasing investment outside of the Golden Triangle, and the importance of collaboration when developing superlative campuses.
You can read more about Bruntwood SciTech’s strategy towards developing state-of-the-art innovation districts for the science and tech sector, and how the business is supporting increased R&D investment across the UK, in their in-depth recap of the discussion here.