UKREIIF: JLL boss calls for regional clusters of excellence to drive levelling up ahead of conference

The drive to establish clusters of excellence in regions like Yorkshire as part of the Government’s Levelling Up agenda presents a ‘huge opportunity’ for the property industry to tackle regeneration in a different way, according to the UK head of a global real estate firm.

Stephanie Hyde, chief executive of JLL and chair of the CBI’s Thriving Regions taskforce, said that since the pandemic, collaboration had become ‘absolutely essential’ to moving projects forward and cited Zero Carbon Humber, a partnership which aims to build the world’s first net zero industrial region, as one of the best examples of where clustering was already working.

Speaking to The Yorkshire Post ahead of the inaugural UK Real Estate Investment and Infrastructure Forum (UKREIIF), which begins in Leeds today (TUESDAY), she said: “It’s a real opportunity to do something different and will ensure that there is better, wider regeneration, not just within cities but also the areas outside of cities.

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“Clustering is one of the big fundamentals that we can learn from where it’s been done in other countries and we’ve got some great examples of it already in the UK.

Stephanie Hyde, chief executive of JLL and chair of the CBI’s Thriving Regions taskforce.

“One of the best ones that’s being talked about at the moment is Zero Carbon Humber but you’ve also got different specialisms throughout the country.”

She added: “There is a huge opportunity because investors are looking to do this. I think the property industry absolutely recognises the role that it can play and how important that is.”

Mrs Hyde said improved transportation and digital infrastructure would be key to smaller towns and cities levelling up. “The connections need to be made because that’s where the growth will come from,” she said. “The focus needs to be on physical infrastructure like transportation as well as digital infrastructure.

“You still want to regenerate those areas but if you can create a clustering and make it easier for people to be able to move around then you will naturally level up much more widely.”

She predicted that sustainability and the move towards net zero carbon would be the themes that define this decade in the property industry as the sector moves from planning to action.

“We’ve moved from setting the targets to getting a plan and now we’re really starting to see people getting into action and making it happen,” she said.

“It will be defining of this decade because so many people have set targets for 2025, 2030 and 2040. There’s going to be a huge amount of activity through this decade.”

A group of industry bodies, including RIBA and the UK Green Building Council, is understood to be developing a standard for verifying buildings as net zero carbon.

Mrs Hyde called on the Government to work with the property industry to remove ambiguities around the definition of net zero carbon.

“It’s difficult because there isn’t certainty of what net zero actually means,” she said. “The Government, whilst being absolutely clear on wanting this to happen, could give more certainty, work with the industry, and draw a clear line to help people.”

JLL is sponsoring the Future of Real Estate Pavilion at the UKREiiF, where it aims to explore how to unlock sustainable, inclusive and transformational investment across the UK to create places that flourish.

The UKREiiF is taking place over the next three days around the Royal Armouries. More than 5,000 property professionals from across the UK are expected to attend the national conference, which aims to attract inward investment and generate economic growth.