Regeneration for the next generation

Development Surveyor RICHARD HINDS, of HBD’s Leeds office, talks about the strong start the team has made in the West Yorkshire city and explains why office working will continue to play an important part in our lives.

Leeds City Centre

We opened HBD’s Leeds office at the start of 2020 and I was one of three new team members recruited as part of the launch. The aim was to create a bigger and wider regional presence for our business and support our growth aspirations. Leeds is the major city in Yorkshire and the North East and it’s important for HBD to have a strong presence here.

Even though we’ve been working remotely during the Covid pandemic, it hasn’t hindered our ambitions. We managed to acquire a 1.5-acre site in the Mabgate area of Leeds, which is a sizeable footprint on the edge of the city centre.

It’s an excellent opportunity in terms of urban regeneration and we’re expecting to move forward with some form of mixed-use development, underpinned with residential accommodation and a provision of community amenity space. The likely timeframe is maybe three to five years away, but the area will evolve extremely quickly over this time. It’s been an important acquisition for us because the whole HBD Leeds team live in the city, so at a personal level, we really feel we’re contributing something positive and want our work to succeed.

We don’t like to sit still as a business and we’re always on the look-out for development opportunities. This year has been non-stop, but we’re ambitious to keep growing our presence in the region from our Leeds base. The Government’s Levelling Up agenda is really exciting for us. As a business, I think we’re uniquely placed to tap into this and support it.  Significant public money is being invested in our regional cities and HBD are eager to invest alongside and in partnership with local authorities.  As a result, we feel that we’re a very credible development partner to engage with and we relish these opportunities.

Whilst work seems to be all systems go in our newly adapted home offices, there is the bubbling debate around how – and where – we will work, once restrictions are lifted.

I may be in my mid-twenties, but I guess I’m quite old fashioned on this point. I like to be in the office, as I want to feel part of a team and part of a company. Not just walking to my spare bedroom every day for work. What we do – regeneration and property – is a people’s business. It requires a massive degree of collaboration and sharing of opinions and ideas. And I don’t care what people say… you don’t get this over Teams! You need to ‘live and breathe’ the areas and sectors you are working in and have those informal chats over coffee with your colleagues and consultants to get the best results.

Looking at the wider picture, the message is about balance. Flexibility in the way we work has to be good. The ability to work a couple of days a week at home is a nice privilege and is good for people’s mental wellbeing, but it shouldn’t be taken for granted. We’ll be moving more towards a world of flexible and agile working. Giving people options. HBD will be very much at the heart of that process and it’s exciting.