Our HBD colleagues were in Leeds last week, attending the second annual UKREiiF event – the UK’s real estate investment forum. A great time was had by all, with seminars delivered by speakers from across the industry, as well as great events including a fundraising quiz for LandAid. Here, our colleague Subomi Fapohunda tells us more.

What a week that was! UKREiiF was a fantastic experience, and I’ve come away feeling immensely inspired by the wealth of knowledge at the conference in Leeds.

There was a strong delegation from HBD, and I was proud to be surrounded by a diverse group of colleagues from across the country as we made our way around the beautiful setting of Leeds’ Armories.

We each enjoyed the informative panels, thought-provoking seminars, some engaging and poignant debates – not to mention the opportunity to reconnect with old acquaintances, forge new connections and explore potential opportunities for future developments and collaboration.

And we weren’t the only ones, this year was a packed out event with many of the pavilions at standing room only. The breadth of stakeholders attending from across the industry and beyond underscores the growing prominence of this annual conference. In just its second edition, UKREiiF is arguably already more relevant and accessible than MIPIM, attracting a broad spectrum of participants.

The debates were rich in content; highlights included a session on the Building Safety Act, shedding light on the shared frustrations experienced by project teams involved in “high risk buildings”. While the Act has been conceived with the good intentions of streamlining processes and enhancing protection, in its current guise it is convoluted and impractical and is perhaps emblematic of the current powers that be.

Adding to this, the existing issues associated with obtaining sufficient PI cover, responsibility is being passed around the supply chain which potentially undermines the Act’s intended purpose. Nonetheless, as we await the full implementation of the bill in October, it is incumbent upon those of us entrusted with remediating existing structures, and constructing new “high risk buildings” to collaborate effectively within our project teams. This collaboration will ensure that design and construction practises are carefully considered and robust enough to address these concerns.

Another hot topic was the UK housing shortage, with much of the conversation around the burgeoning Build-to-Rent (BTR) landscape and the requirement for the provision of quality multi-family and single-family homes. The much publicised decline in – and the increasing barriers to – home ownership, when occurring in concert with the constricted supply necessitates substantial growth in the rental sector to meet both current and future demand.

As a society, our perception of renting is evolving and we are increasingly considering long-term private renting as a viable alternative to owning a home, mirroring our European counterparts. The sector’s appeal to long-term investors and developers, as well as the genuine commitment by all who presented at UKREiiF, to deliver modern, well-designed and energy-efficient homes is encouraging. This enthusiasm serves as a strong foundation for addressing the critical shortage of housing stock. It’s something we’re addressing at HBD with our pipeline of 1,300+ BTR homes.

In conclusion, UKREiiF was an unequivocal success. It was truly rewarding to convene with like-minded professionals and contemplate and discuss how we can collectively create and shape places, spaces and buildings that foster community development, growth and prosperity.