What industry experts expect from 2022

21st December 2021

2021 has been an interesting and surprising year, for many reasons. 

We’ve seen the property market heat up, with high sales volumes and soaring house prices. 

As a result, the market has become increasingly competitive for housebuilders as they navigate through both a land and housing crisis, as well as ongoing supply issues. 

In our recent webinar, we were joined by Paul Smith from the Strategic Land Group, Helen Chorley, property investor and co-founder of the Property Sisters UK, Damian Sullivan from Sigma Homes Group and James Brodie from Shoosmiths.

They shared some of the most pivotal moments of the past year and the directions they expect the market to shift in 2022. Check out their insights below. 

 

Increasing traction for sustainable practices

Sustainable development has become more prominent over the course of 2021, but interest really culminated during COP26. 

“I think COP26 has really given sustainability a much wider audience.” – Helen Chorley

Most developers are aware of the ways in which they can make a building more environmentally friendly. However, looking further than the physical structure – like factoring in location or pre-empting demand with the introduction of sustainable forests – can make the whole development process more sustainable. 

Increasing population density in towns and cities can also lead to a reduction in CO2 emissions, as it generally leads to shorter commutes and better public transport links. 

Likewise, permitted development rights have also led to the repurposing of old, energy inefficient buildings and reduced their carbon output. 

Sustainability is set to get more creative and encompass yet more of the development process in 2022. 

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A focus on future-proofing

Sustainability is another obvious example of future-proofing, but there’s other ways to ensure the longevity of your development – such as anticipating changes in regulation or new environmental constraints that may arise. 

With project time frames extending and uncertainty around how Covid may continue to impact the industry, it's more important than ever for developers to be able to anticipate and align with future demand. 

“We can’t control the short-term things, but I think what developers can do is look to their product and make sure their product will still deliver what people might want in a post-Covid world.” – James Brodie

As James said, anticipating what the market will want post-pandemic should be a focus for developers who want to get ahead of the curve. Hybrid working has changed the way people move, live, and commute – and tapping into this ongoing trend could be one way of future-proofing your business. 

More and more developers are also factoring in the potential need for repurposing in the future. The pace of change is now so rapid that they are giving their developments the leeway to incorporate necessary changes every 20-30 years. 

 

Will 2022 finally be the year of planning reform? 

Well we couldn’t have an industry year-in-review blog post without talking about planning reform, could we? 

Widespread reform has been tipped to happen ever since the government’s Planning for the future white paper was published in August 2020, but very few of the major changes have become a reality. 

Some elements from the white paper, such as the introduction of the National Model Design Code this year, have started to filter through. However, Gove’s interpretation of reform is likely to differ to what was initially set out, so it's still a matter of watch this space. 

“I know that Michael Gove has said that he’s looking at the package (that was back in September) and there are lots of unknowns really for Michael Gove’s direction...In terms of the levelling up agenda, there could be more housing growth in the North.” – Damian Sullivan

Our experts varied in optimism over how likely it was that planning reform would be happen next year, but they were all very much in agreement that some kind of clarity was needed. 

“I’d just like to see it brought to a conclusion. Because whatever the system is, we can work within it and try and maximise delivery within that.” – Paul Smith

 

Watch the webinar on-demand

We’ve touched on some of the big industry changes we can expect to see in 2022, but you can catch up on all the panellists' expert insights in our on-demand webinar – and get ahead for the new year. 

Watch the webinar on demand

 

Shannon is a Community Content Specialist at LandTech. Her marketing skills started young, when she designed the logo for her primary school (which they still use today). In fact, she's so persuasive, she once convinced John Bishop to give up his seat on a train (first class, no less).