More Land needed
The fact that we need more land released for development is beyond dispute. There are countless further sites around the country, in areas where there is demand, but where planning or practical issues prevent progress being made.
Infrastructure is often a key concern when it comes to unlocking land for development. It will surely be a challenge for some of the MoD and Network Rail sites. I don’t imagine that all 12,000 hectares of MoD land earmarked for development will have the required transport infrastructure already in place. Development of the 200 plus sites identified by Network Rail seems certain to create conflicts with the smooth operation of the rail network.
Land that is otherwise ripe for development often lacks the infrastructure to allow people and goods to move in and out efficiently. Surrounding roads and transport services may already be under stress without the addition of new residents and businesses.
Alongside technical challenges, there are also human ones. People rarely welcome having a large new development imposed on them. But communities can be kept on board when they can see that their issues are actively considered and mitigated wherever possible.
Social value is a priority. And those that have demonstrated that they consistently leave a positive project legacy will ensure that everyone benefits and sees some positives in any proposed developments
For example, with the Apsley Bridge project in Hemel Hempstead close community engagement has been critical at every stage. The impact on residents was mitigated by maximising the use of offsite construction and selecting piling rigs that minimised vibration. In collaboration with Two Waters Primary School, Bovis Homes, and Dacorum Borough Council a new outdoor play area was also created as part of the project legacy.
Working with customers to find innovative ways to unlock land for development has become an increasingly important part of our business.
Early Contractor Involvement (ECI) enables us to work closely with all stakeholders including main contractors Local Authorities, Network Rail or Highways Authorities. This allows full collaborative partnerships to develop, which design projects for the best outcome and value.