Time for a Great British Retrofit

Let’s make green growth and urban regeneration a focus for the election.

Our living environment is constantly evolving. Cities, communities, and our way of life are subject to ongoing change. But how do we adapt, progress and flourish?

Urban regeneration and revitalising our cities, towns and villages should be at the heart of our strategy moving forward. As we anticipate an impending general election, there’s an opportunity to radically rethink both the structure and investment strategies of the property market and what we are trying to achieve.

While promises of more new homes, increased policing and NHS improvements are always popular with voters, are they truly sufficient? The blunt answer is no. We need more radical proposals, innovative thinking, sustainable growth, and protection of both the new and the old, the right policies, tools, skills, and mindsets to achieve what could be termed the Great British Retrofit.

What would constitute great urban regeneration though? Common themes could include incentives for more mixed used developments, adaptive re-use, green infrastructure, and most importantly healthy communities with access to amenities, supported to create unique identities and experiences.

Retrofitting existing buildings and enhancing our living environment are essential components of urban regeneration. By upgrading buildings to adhere to stringent environmental and sustainability standards like those set by net zero, PAS2038, BREEAM and WELL certifications and other, we do not only improve the quality of urban spaces but breathe new life into communities and assets.

Current struggles in the commercial real estate sector, particularly with office buildings, are leading to significant challenges for stakeholders such as landlords, banks, local governments, and individual portfolios. The increasing pressure on banks stems from their heavy exposure to falling commercial real estate values and it is exacerbated by the surge in remote work and reduced demand for office space.

UK industrial markets are seeing rents plateau or fall. Lease negotiations may struggle to achieve reported rental value given economic uncertainty. Furthermore, the decline in office values threatens retirement systems and individual portfolios, demonstrating the need for innovative solutions.

By transforming such areas into vibrant, multi-use green spaces that cater to multiple generations and support inclusivity and community engagement, we can provide residents with access to nature-rich environments for leisure and relaxation.

In an era where high-quality environments are increasingly prized, investing in sustainable infrastructure not only benefits the environment but also bolsters property values and stimulates economic growth.

This approach promises significant benefits for both the commercial sector and the natural environment, as reusing existing structures minimises the use of new materials, reduces energy consumption, and promotes circular use of resources.

Urban development combined with sustainable and considerate design emerge as a powerful tool for driving positive social change and revitalising urban spaces. By creating inclusive environments that cater to multi-generational needs, developers can transform city centres into vibrant hubs of activity.

Now that a General Election will soon be upon us, let’s prioritise urban regeneration and green growth as central themes for our collective vision of the future. It’s time to re-imagine our cities, towns, and villages as dynamic, sustainable spaces that support healthy communities and unique experiences. We have the tools, let build the common vision together.

Tassos Kougionis is a director at property consultancy McBains.

Retrofit is one of the key themes under discussion in the ten content theatres at this year’s InstallerSHOW at the NEC on 25-27 June. Register for FREE tickets to the show here: installer-2024-splash.reg.buzz