1. You have a hugely dynamic profile and background. Could you describe briefly who you are and what has bought you to where you are today?
I’m Professor of Urban Futures at the University of Leeds. I support civic ventures that can respond to social challenges, and the climate emergency. Projects include Lilac cohousing, Leeds Community Homes, Kirkstall Valley Development Trust, Our Future Leeds.
2. What specific technology has caught your eye as being instrumental in helping the RE industry achieve its sustainability goals?
Coalitions of community-led housing professionals are developing innovative solutions in terms of tenure, behaviour change finance, and design.
The traditional volume built market is being disrupted by distributed community-based manufacture through prefabricated open source products like WikiHouseand MassBespoke.
3. What long term impact could the Covid-19 pandemic have on future urban planning?
COVID means a major rebalancing between the city centre and residential living and working – shortening journeys, more active travel, and local goods and services.
There is real potential in the ’15 minute neighbourhood’ where life’s essentials can be reached within a short walk or cycle.
4. How can the U.K. continue to accelerate as a leading PropTech hub and what are the main challenges against this?
PropTech will depend on good finance and available land.
A major barrier, especially for smart tech startups, is concentrated land ownership and corporate land banking.
City innovators need more access to risk finance so they can get their products to market and compete with established developers and landowners.
Community and municipal finance can play a key role in PropTech’s future.