Boomtown is back, but be careful…

Posted: 1st November 2012

Boomtown is back, but be careful…

Someone I used to work for had a couple of useful maxims that have stayed with me. Firstly he would say, “We can do anything, but we cannot do everything” and on other occasions he would say, “We can do it quickly or we can do it well”. He was a hopeless manager, but he had a way with words.

Local authorities and registered providers are entering what is going to be a very difficult period; I think many organisations would do well to pay heed to these wisdoms.

Is the recession over? Is the housing market in recovery? We know house prices in most parts of the country are rallying and in London and the South East, they are moving quickly. Buy to let investment is back in fashion and prospective first time buyers are feverishly examining the Government’s controversial Help to Buy scheme.

Some of it has the feel of the last chance saloon. If you are a first time buyer in London and the south east then this may be your last chance ever to jump on the home ownership ladder. Open house viewings, sealed bids, non-returnable deposits are all making reappearances in London. It has a frenzied feel.

I spend a lot of time talking to regeneration and development professionals and they are recounting to me similar stories of land auctions, where parties appear to be overpaying in what can only be a gamble on the upside around the corner.

We did some work recently that brought us into contact with virtually every senior public sector regeneration professional in London. In all but a few exceptions there was a real confidence that the worst was over and local plans for growth, renewal and regeneration were realisable in the foreseeable future. No more stalled development. The once bedraggled of the development world were beating a path to the doors of local authorities and appearing healthy, funded and raring to go. Again it has a frenzied feel.

Is frenzy the same as energy and is it positive? I hope so, but it could all end in tears. If individuals are over-committing themselves and developers are over-heating at the first sign of life in the market, then one has to worry. Of course there are those who will remain calm and measured. They will take risks but will manage the risks well and will succeed.

We are seeing the start of the lead in to the post 2105 bid rounds for the next affordable housing programme. We all know the grant programme is not what it was and we live in riskier times.

Are you seeing signs of frenzy or energy with your development or regeneration teams? Or are yours calm and measured and able to manage the risks in what is going to be a rocky ride?

Chris Wood, Altair Partner, leads our development services. Chris can be contacted on 07932 693292 or

If you are having difficulty finding good development people to deliver programmes, or need some additional capacity to deliver your current programmes or assist with the next bid round, we can help. For a confidential discussion about your requirements please contact Sarah Palmer, Head of Recruitment and Interim Management on 07806 602933 or

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