Engaging and frank discussions between developers and Birmingham City Council’s Director for Place, Prosperity, & Sustainability, Paul Kitson, took place at BECG’s Midlands Matters roundtable earlier this month. Joined by Simon Delahunty-Forrest, Assistant Director for Development Planning & Development at Birmingham City Council, developers both local and national did not shy away from raising the issues they face in the UK’s second city.
The sector faces a range of challenges from economic uncertainty, land availability, to labour market shortages. Like many major cities, Birmingham faces a significant challenge in delivering enough housing for current and predicted populations. As Covid helps to re-shape city centres, local authority planning teams must take a proactive role in the complexity of changing populations and urban environments.
Paul Kitson and Simon Delahunty-Forrest were positive about the future in Birmingham; imploring developers to work with the council to bring forward their developments effectively and efficiently together. Early and honest conversations increase the chances of a development being a success. It can allow the council to address any issues they have and vice versa to enable a successful planning outcome.
Developers highlighted the key issues that they face in Birmingham, highlighting land acquisition, policy challenges and planning delays as major barriers to growth. Paul Kitson made clear that the council understood the concerns of the sector and while many of these challenges were not limited to Birmingham, effective partnership working and early engagement would allow the council and local developers to work together in trying to tackle and mitigate some of the challenges facing the sector.
While these challenges are not about to magically disappear with the return of Michael Gove as the tenth Secretary of State in seven years we can hopefully look forward to a period of greater stability.
Regardless of national political uncertainty, it is clear that senior officers such as Paul Kitson and Simon Delahunty-Forest are determined to grow and develop Birmingham. Early and honest conversations with Birmingham City Council can help maintain Birmingham’s ‘golden decade’ and cement Paul’s view that ‘strength in partnership’ is the future.
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