It’s only been 10 years . . .

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Last modified on 16/01/2018

Since the credit crisis of 2007.  What a decade! 

It's time to be positive.

Thankfully we’re not in the same league as then, but it’s a shaky start to the year! High consumer debt; Low growth; Political uncertainty radiating from the US and Europe, and finally with the UK adding to the flux by a subject that will dominate our headlines whether we like it or not, Brexit. 

Not the greatest of places to be for our economy and sector. However, our attitude and approach to life is light years from where it was in 2007. Investors; occupiers; lenders; central and local government focused on our towns and cities have never worked more closely together than they have in this decade to find common solutions, rather than argue the differences. The power of this collective puts us all in a much healthier position going forward. 

Take for example the huge leaps and bounds made from lessons learnt in making our environments mixed and multi-use: more enjoyable and fun to live in. 

Underpinned by a growing desire neigh movement to face up to the simple fact we have to build more houses, to meet demand.

Our retail property and placemaking community is in a much better place than 10 years ago.  Collectively we get that it’s important that we make our towns and cities much nicer places to live, work and play in.

The Industry wide task force I chaired in 2013/14, which was set up by the Government, and with the huge support of Revo, produced a set of recommendations that were unanimously written and backed by the industry bodies representing Occupiers; owners; banks; local government and wider consultants, i.e. BPF/BRC/ LGA /RICS and others.

These recommendations are being adopted in the main, and where not, then our community has consistently lobbied government for the change  in in areas of negative impacts such as rates, and more positively in areas of housing and infrastructure investment.  We’ve encouraged Local Authorities to take leadership and thus drive positive change within their towns and cities. They are responding beyond anyone’s expectation…they were the biggest buyer of shopping centres in 2016.

As a result, excellent examples have emerged from public and private partnerships working in tandem; a far flung cry from 10 years ago when it was all down to the private sector.

Funding has been eased through greater infrastructure.  Regeneration and remodelling has been created fit for the 21st century and beyond, and which continues to evolve.  At pace.

10 years on we’ve learnt lessons.  We’ve wiped our bloodied noses and we’re more aligned and focussed on finding innovative solutions together, than ever before.  We’re in a significantly better place to tackle the issues which continue to challenge us, daily.  At Hark, alongside our investors, we work in successful collaboration with all our local authorities, and the results pay off. All our assets have seen significant investment and improvement from the likes of Liverpool thru to Glasgow; Bury and many other towns and cities. The investment simply would not have happened without the working support of the Local Authorities whose towns these ultimately are. The transformation of Clayton Square being a prime example. 

There is more to do and I would encourage people to read Revo’s recent publication ‘Revamp, Revitalise, Regeneration’ showcases inspiring Local Authority regeneration projects.  If you haven’t seen a copy visit or drop David a line on and he’ll happily send you a copy.  It’s a true indication of a brighter future. 

Looking forward the work NE1 and Newcastle City Council are embarking on with the multiple stakeholders in the City will also will, I predict, be a model going forward.

Its tackling multi owned locations; multi use stakeholders and multi-use solutions right in the heart of the City.

So, as we start the year in earnest, my personal mantra is all about the power of the collective.  Let’s focus on collaboration in the coming months.  Together, let’s look for positive and innovative solutions.  There are after-all, more areas we want to improve collectively than disagree upon. 

Let’s greet 2017 head on together, mindful of where we’ve been but importantly where we are; in a much brighter, inclusive and dynamic place than 10 years ago; and lets have some fun along the way!


Mark Williams

Director and Co-owner of The Hark Group
Vice President, Revo
Non Exec Chairman of Newcastle Northumberland street partnership