The last two months have been filled with uncertainty and challenges, not just for our region but for the entire world. Whilst the North East planning and development sector continues to move forward with deals, projects and investment wherever possible, it’s critical that we continue to collaborate and support each other as a region. 

One thing that all of us in the sector has in common is that we applaud the Government’s response to supporting businesses and self employed people. Within that response however, comes challenges within itself.

Currently there doesn’t seem to be a great deal of direct attention on the property sector. This isn’t a huge problem, however, there must be a way that funding and help can be prioritised and indeed concentrated on the sectors and businesses that really need it, rather than a ‘one size fits all’ approach that allows many others to seek to take advantage when this is not entirely necessary.

This will be particularly important as we start to come away from the peak. By way of illustration, licensed leisure and hospitality will require more ongoing support than many other sectors.

For developers, investors and contractors still navigating through this uncertain time, the economic climate will undoubtedly become more stressful as funders respond to a fall in security valuations. This will need to be carefully monitored and we must persuade those funders to focus more on serviceability than absolute capital protection.

Remote-working may also become a challenge to the sector. People have now had a relatively lengthy enforced trial of working from home and it may encourage businesses to embrace more relaxed working styles going forward. This could potentially impact the occupier market and influence the space companies require. 

As we continue working within the new ‘normal’, there are also positives. There has been no major slowdown within the sector over the last few weeks, schemes are being proposed and scheduled and in addition to this, there will be many new live requirements from companies who will either be looking to scale up or down following the easing or lifting of lockdown restrictions.

It will take a great deal of time for the country to try and resume some normality. With this in mind, there has never been a more important time for us to collaborate and share best practice so that we can all prosper as a region together. We will find a way through this, and when we do, the hard work, fast-adapting nature and resilience we have built, will all stand in our favour.