28 Mar 2022

Facing challenges together - Lovell

It’s so good to be back out and about, I’m really enjoying catching up with people face to face. If there’s one thing I’ve learnt in the last two years, is that business can be done anywhere and anyhow, and I am totally embracing that. So, it’s going to be a great night at the CIH Presidential Dinner on Tuesday, not least of all to meet some familiar faces but also to meet some new ones. That’s one of the things about the pandemic that has really struck me, there are so many new faces in our industry and with that, a renewed sense of energy and passion.

As I write this blog ahead of the dinner, I’m really thinking about what ties us all together. We’ve all faced the same COVID challenges, professionally and personally, which our managing director Steve Coleby will sum up in his opening address, but he’ll also talk about the enormous opportunity we have ahead of us to shape a housing sector that builds the right homes in the right places.

Let’s be honest, we all know that’s easier said than done. But something has really changed in our industry that gifts us this great opportunity to seize the moment. Let me give that comment some context. In the last couple of years, despite the pandemic, we have announced several new partnerships that are wholly unique in how they’re structured. Take our joint venture partnership with whg, this is a great illustration of how we’re working with a HA partner to develop sites that might have previously sat in the ‘too difficult’ box but can make a lasting difference at a local level. By having the ambition, coupled with the financial resources and skills, we are not just building homes, we are significantly boosting the economic prosperity of the area by providing training opportunities and apprenticeships. We must create the circle of opportunity long after the construction signs have come down.

There’s no doubt, Lovell has always been agile and flexible about the way it delivers new partnerships, it’s partly the reason I joined the business back in 2020, but there is a real shift happening in wider influential circles that is now enabling housing change to happen more quickly. The new Homes England framework creates real opportunities to deliver new affordable homes at scale – but also brings the challenges of where and how to deliver in a challenging land market and a sector facing inflationary pressures plus the planning for a net zero carbon future. This only emphasises why we need to work collaboratively and be more imaginative about how we get homes built. That impetus alone, is great cause for celebration, and exactly what we all need if we’re to get anywhere close to housing targets.

As a business with a broad spectrum of skills, we can pretty much turn our hand to most projects, whether that open-market sales, regeneration or a mix of the two. Yet, despite what I’ve said about partnerships, the beauty of Lovell is that we’ve got the experience and financial wherewithal to really respond rapidly to the big agenda items. The Levelling Up White Paper is a case in point. We can give many examples of partnerships over the last five decades that go straight to the heart of the ‘levelling-up’ debate, helping communities to thrive by connecting them with new economic opportunities as well as improving their quality of life. There is a lot of detail to come to understand how Government will support delivery of its agenda, but Lovell is here to work with all of our Housing Association partners and Local Government to make a difference.

There is going to be so much discussion and debate when we meet on Tuesday, and I am so looking forward to working with many of you over the coming months, and years. We must not shy away from some of the big challenges we face as a sector, climate change and tackling fuel poverty being just two, but what we have demonstrated in the last two years, is that we can achieve so much more when we do it together.

Written by Mary Parsons

Lovell partnerships regeneration and partnerships director