We’re a membership organisation based in the North East, that works together to create a more prosperous economy.
Built-up of North East businesses and national organisations operating within the region, we work to make the area more attractive to investors and to provide the right conditions for growth whilst delivering the goals of the North East Strategic Economic Plan.
From professional services, finance and the construction industry to local authorities, strategic boards and regional membership organisations, collaboration is crucial for us to tackle barriers preventing growth and encourage progress in the following five key areas.
There is a real need to create a clear vision for our region to get behind, work towards and project to potential investors.
Since its inception in 2012, Developing Consensus members have invested over £1bn into the North East economy through various projects and developments, as well as fees for architects, project managers, lawyers, accountants and surveyors.
However, there are still urgent challenges within the region’s investment and property market which need to be addressed.
With 120 members now discussing and taking action on such challenges, we are working in partnership with bodies including the North East LEP, CBI and North East Chamber of Commerce at a strategic level, as well as being linked to the inward investment agenda, to ensure progress and further emphasise the positives of the region.
Our ambitions are clear:
To ensure the delivery and supply of new developments and buildings to enable the growth of
To explore strategic initiatives designed to make the area an attractive place to invest in. We are currently carrying out analysis of the success of initiatives such as Enterprise Zones, LEP, Homes England and others to see which are most effective.
To support the North East in attracting inward investment from national and international markets.
To encourage positive collaboration between the public and private sectors on development and investment, whilst continuing to be an authoritative voice and expert consulting group within the region.
It’s vital for us to encourage collaboration between developers and planners to help improve the pre-application process so that new development opportunities can be unlocked.
We’re currently working in partnership with Newcastle City Council as the lead planning authority for the seven planning authorities across the region, to improve the pre-application process and enable more speculative development.
If we can provide more certainty about quantity and the use of land at the pre-application stage, then we predict more fast-moving investments into the region.
One element which we’re working on is the introduction of an Early Assessment Triangle, covering an on-site evaluation, clarity on key policy requirements and an outline of key development requirements.
This sits alongside other discussions and collaborations looking at the longer-term needs and potential of the region as a priority, especially if we are to encourage stakeholders to put aside short term and local interests to see the benefits of development and investing in the North East.
On top of working with the lead planning authorities, we’re also partnering with Professional Institutes, industry bodies, lobby groups and Higher Education institutions, where research and innovative thinking around planning barriers and development opportunities
Our members work to identify barriers to development, interventions and solutions to help progress the region and create the right conditions for high-quality developments to be delivered.
Business requirements are changing at an increasingly rapid rate and we believe that it is vital to focus on opportunities that will have the greatest economic impact such as: providing Grade A offices and high-quality co-working spaces in our city centres and key transport hubs, high specification industrial and logistics facilities on key transport corridors, high-density residential development in city centres and family residential in satellite towns.
We believe that the North East region must regard the speculative development of new buildings as key infrastructure projects that are critical to the future success of our economy. Without them, there will be no homes for new businesses or the infrastructure to support them. To facilitate this we’ve developed a five-step approach.
- Establish a region-wide approach to inward investment and growth that is consistent and easily understood. Co-ordination and co-operation are essential.
- Prioritise the right projects and seek out opportunities to enhance and further develop schemes, whilst avoiding the creation of unnecessary competition between projects.
- Facilitate the development process at a regional level through the creation of delivery teams, who take a pro-active approach to
enablingdevelopment and make facilitating planning permissions a strategic priority.
- Focus on building delivery by establishing a range of funds on a region-wide basis to unlock sites. For example, through funding site assembly, preparation and infrastructure or the deployment of tax-based incentives for building and developing priority projects.
- Pivot funding toward investment in projects with proportional risks and rewards. To facilitate this, establish a package of interventions that can be used by developers subject to shared returns. This could include enhanced planning support, reduced or deferred S106 contributions, empty rates mitigation or deferment.
We’ve identified short and medium-term priorities across
Investment in the built environment is essential for economic growth in order to provide accommodation for new and growing businesses. However, this investment depends upon the right public sector infrastructure investment that can unlock these privately delivered schemes.
The region’s road infrastructure is, of course, a large priority, it’s of crucial importance for us to work towards reducing congestion and adding capacity. Connectivity to the South of the region has already improved, however, the infrastructure to the West and North still need massive improvements.
Rail and public transport is also a concern and, whilst we do have the benefit of a metro system, there are still gaps in key areas such as Team Valley and Ashington. East-West rail improvements are also long needed to provide better links to Leeds and Manchester in line with the Northern Powerhouse rail strategy. This needs to be properly funded and delivered, as well as installing the appropriate infrastructure in preparation for HS2.
Embracing the digital age is something that is always at the forefront of our agenda. Whilst there have been short term wins based around technology with smarter ticketing linking rail, metro and buses, and better real-time information that will encourage more passenger journeys, there is still a lot more on a wider regional scale that can be done.
Newcastle has the fastest growing tech sector outside London, employing more than 30,000 people. However, more digital improvements must be made for the North East to remain a place to live, invest and build a business.
To address this, Developing Consensus has identified seven priorities including expanding the Go Digital free wifi-zone, investment in further digital training and skills, and the
Although much work is already being done to attract investment, we are continually lobbying for
To do this we believe that we must have a sufficiently funded inward investment team to represent the North East if we are to compete effectively with other parts of England, let alone on a global scale.
We face an increasingly uncertain and hostile environment post Brexit, however, there are still valuable opportunities that we are working to identify, prepare for and set ourselves at an advantage. This, of course, must be done with the cooperation of both the public and the private sector.
There are currently seven local authority initiatives working alongside the region’s single team Invest North East England. All with the same collective goal but different internal operations and targets.
We believe we have two choices, there must either be a strengthening of resource and commitment from all to the existing regional initiative or, if this cannot be achieved, a “coming together” of as many of the individual local authority initiatives. This could be modelled on many of the principles adopted by the successful 1980’s Northern Development Company which was well regarded across the region.
In addition to this, we are also specifically looking at how the private sector might support the region in attracting foreign direct investment, while simultaneously retaining inward investment. We feel this would be a vital short-term option to counter the likelihood of an economic downturn.
This, alongside an overarching focus on supporting the growth and development of existing businesses, will allow us to work together to promote the region as one.
Developing Consensus was established in 2012 by the Newcastle City Council Developers Group members: David Furniss of BNP Paribas, Neil McMillan of Impec Developments, Adam Serfontein of the Hanro Group, Mark Thompson of Ryder Architecture, Gavin Black of Gavin Black & Partners and Fergus Trim of Broadoak Asset Management.