Looking forward to 2024 it’s impossible not to reference last year. 2023 was a challenging year. Increased interest rates and inflation and international conflicts all had an impact on businesses in the UK.
Sadly, some of my predictions for 2023 became reality. Local authorities running at reduced capacity were financially challenged and some spectacularly hit the buffers. However, in many cases, the communities that they serve still have potential and just need strong leadership and a mature approach to risk management.
Where there is clear leadership and a willingness to be bold then good things will happen. The current stable of Government funding streams are a real opportunity but need deploying rather than just being allocated.
2024 needs to be a year of delivery. We regularly work in partnership with local authorities and our client list shows this. Where our clients let us support capacity constraints, where there is a clear vision and where there is transparency regarding what risks can or cannot be taken it works. 2023 has shown us that.
I see 2024 as the year of consolidation and preparation for future growth. Interest rates should start to fall later this year and the repricing of assets will underpin this consolidation with good prospects for 2025 and beyond.
2024 will also bring us a general election. Maintaining momentum through an event like this is a further challenge. Clear-sighted partners will have the confidence to drive on through the disruption whilst adjusting to how a new government post-election wants to do things. 2024 must not be a “lost” year. Government funds need to be deployed and deployed well. For Queensberry, we see continued growth as a strategic development partner aligning with like-minded Councils that share a common goal of building better communities through urban regeneration. To further enhance our offer, in 2023 we set up a Build-To-Rent (BTR) business on the back of our existing residential experience. I foresee that this will bear fruit in several UK cities this year. Housing is and will be an increasingly important sector for us.
As for the key trends to focus on this year I believe they are already apparent and will grow in terms of relevance in 2024:
- Environmental, social, and corporate governance (ESG). It is probably the most significant ongoing trend in our industry. Year on year it evolves as we all learn more about how to adopt it into our everyday life and the buildings and communities we create. Each year there are more built examples of buildings that meet the growing demand of companies fully committed to the cause. A perfect example of this is our carbon neutral ‘ready’ office building – Elshaw House at Heart of the City, Sheffield. Now 70% pre-let.
- The BTR sector has also been identified by Queensberry as an area for investment. In 2024 we will announce developments that we will be delivering across the UK. Relieving the pressure on housing provision for people unable to get on the property ladder is key for a growing economy.
- The trend in public/private partnerships will prevail. Pressures on local government are increasing but their long-term perspective and commitment to social value make them an essential part of long-term success. Recently, councils have stepped up and taken risk where the private sector failed. As the economy returns, we should not lose this valuable alliance that brings more to the table than just a ‘bottom-line’ approach. We value our Public Sector clients and have seen real benefit from working for and with them since 2011.