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Located at the TLT Offices in Bristol, the Insider Property Forum South West discussed key issues surrounding the construction industry and the future of development in the South West.

Our first panel debate featured Bristol City Council’s cabinet member for housing, councillor Paul Smith, who revealed that the local authority is expecting to significantly beat both its target for building new homes and its target for building affordable homes in the next two years.

He revealed that the authority’s current projection for 2020 is that 3,500 homes will be built a year, not including student, and more than 1,000 of those will be affordable housing.

Rob Russell, director of Clifton-based Russell Property Consultants, made the point that more must be done to get the mix of land uses right in the region – especially in dense urban areas like Bristol, where he said employment land is at a premium.

Insider’s property personality of the year, Gavin Bridge, director of Cubex, said there were similar problems with finding good-sized commercial land in the area. It was also raised that local authorities are struggling with available land in the centre of Bristol

Another point raised was that some sites that are available have now stalled. It is essential for these to be brought forward and for developers to be encouraged to prioritise land in city centres such as Bristol and Bath.

It was discussed that there are goals also to change the skyline of Bristol in years to come, raising the skyline and gaining height in new builds, as currently the height of the City of generally very low rise.

However, this will come at a cost as 15 storey buildings on average cost 20% more to build. The perceptions of residential high-rise buildings need to be overcome, especially following Grenfell. Grenfell should not be used as a bad ark against high rise buildings, that building was not soundly constructed and has been learned from.

Discussions also broke out to new BREEAM regulations that will be coming in April 2018 – this requires that all new buildings are required to fall into CAT E. We expect to see this as a moving target whereby the level is moving towards a D or C minimum in the near future.

Laura Fineran from Harvey Richmond comments;

‘The event brought together prominent people in the construction industry and identified clear issues which needs to be faced head-on in the coming years in order to positively develop the South West, Bristol and Bath’

Harvey Richmond are experts in the built environment, located in the South West and operating in and around Bristol. If you’re seeking a new role get in contact with Harvey Richmond on 0117 203 3399.