This morning, we held our second breakfast debate with RIBAJ, taking another look at how the Brexit vote may impact the construction industry and the economy as a whole.
The sold-out debate gave the audience the opportunity to discuss how the industry seems to be handling the outcome of the EU referendum, exploring the Government’s response, the outlook for businesses, and the general mood.
Chaired by Matthew Taylor, Chief Executive of the RSA, the discussion called on the expertise of our four panellists: Nick Whitten from Jones Lang LaSalle, Mark Cleverly of Arcadis, Twelve Architects’ Lorraine Stoutt Griffith, and James Kenny, Head of Global Affairs at Arup.
Nick Whitten and Mark Cleverly took to the stage first, examining Brexit’s impact on the residential and commercial property markets respectively.
Noting that housebuilding levels are only half of what they should be, Nick commented on the upcoming housing whitepaper from the Government, recognising the change in rhetoric towards the subject. Now, Nick said, politicians are understanding that the UK has a diverse range of housing requirements beyond the traditional owner-occupier.
Mark took an upbeat view towards Br
exit from a commercial perspective, telling the audience about his recent trip to China, where local developers are still keen to invest in UK properties. The subject of diversity arose again, as Mark explained that many clients are now diversifying their property portfolios with acquisitions in the leisure, sports, and hotel sectors.
Lorraine Stoutt Griffith approached the debate with her extensive architectural experience, highlighting the danger of losing excellent European talent in the next few years. She also emphasised the impact that uncertainty is having on the industry, with her firm looking to widen its scope of projects within the UK.
James Kenny rounded off the discussion by exploring the political and economic ramifications of the vote, discussing this ‘fascinating period in history’ in terms of the negotiations. Saying that negotiators love a ticking clock, James drew attention to the sheer amount of emotion involved in Brexit ‒ and the dearth of facts.
After a short break, questions and comments were opened to the floor, with a variety of opinions voiced by the audience, including concerns over Europe-wide supply chains, the psychology behind Brexit, and public expectations.