It was great to attend the UKREiiF, the UK’s Real Estate Investment & Infrastructure Forum, in Leeds on 16 and 17 May. Now in its second year, with a third planned, REiiF is becoming an important event in the calendar for property developers and investors to come together to discuss trends, innovation, and shape the future direction of the industry. The forum covers how the public and private sectors can work together to deal with the challenges we face, such as providing the homes we need and responding to the climate and ecological emergencies.
The public sector has an increasingly strong presence at this event. As well as UK locations setting out their stalls for investment, leaders from across the political spectrum were taking a leading part in discussions.
Bristol is recognised as a leader in climate action, committing to our One City Climate Strategy and One City Ecological Emergency Strategy. As a city we are willing to share the benefit of our experience to support efforts nationally and internationally to achieve net zero in a fair and just way. In my keynote, opening address at the Beyond Net Zero stage, I highlighted how our Bristol City Leap Partnership plans to deliver £630 million of clean energy investment by 2028, creating over 1,000 jobs and saving over 150,000 tonnes of emissions.
But more needs to be done. During my time at COP27, it was highlighted that a global transformation to a low-carbon economy is expected to require investments of at least $4-6 trillion a year. My attendance was as part of the Cities Climate Investment Commission (3Ci), where we advocated for what is needed to ensure successful public-private collaboration and unlock the private finance needed for a just transition of cities to net zero. Accessing this private funding is a crucial step on our journey.
I also had the opportunity at REIIF to celebrate the progress we have made as a city to continue to progress towards delivering 1,000 affordable new homes every year. In 2021/22, our city built 474 new homes, as part of the 2,563 new homes delivered, the most in more than a decade. I also emphasised the role cities have to play as agents of change.
The majority of the world’s population now lives in urban environments – so change in cities can be significant in scale and happen at pace, as long as it is just. I see a role for a national plan for key infrastructure in cities, that gives central government an agenda to follow that supports cities and gives them a long horizon to plan for, whilst giving them the freedom they need to be fully responsive to the needs of their citizens.
A seminar on the opportunity at Temple Quarter attracted much interest. The landmark project, one of Europe’s biggest regeneration schemes, will unlock 10,000 new homes and 22,000 new jobs, alongside huge investment into Bristol’s economy. I’m grateful to the team, and those working under the banner of the Western Gateway and other partners, who were flying the flag at the event for Bristol and the west, for their contributions to what I consider to have been a successful few days.