The key challenge during COVID-19 has been in keeping projects going, but local authorities have helped by grasping the idea of virtual planning committees in better than expected ways.
Those were some of the main themes to emerge in the first NLA NextGen Sounding Board held online last week, supported by programme champions Gardiner & Theobald.
The hour-long session – excerpts linked here– looked at the ‘what-ifs’ and possible scenarios for both the group to discuss and for London as it moves towards an easing of lockdown from the perspectives of all of the participants, across engineering, architecture, landscape, construction, development and other real estate professions.
Selasi Setufe, Public practice associate at BeFirst and Co-founder of Black Women in Architecture said one of the key issues was which projects had to be paused as a result of COVID-19 but that engagement with communities presented a particular concern. Nancy Elgarve, Associate Director at Gardiner & Theobald said that it was also a concern in her experience for firms to keep projects moving. G&T has been issuing construction update notes both internally and externally and engaging in round tables online to understand how projects on pause will be impacted down the line and, indeed, whether businesses will be taking projects forward.
Others, including Tom Lambourne of Ballymore said they had also been well equipped to remote working, some sites have remained open but ultimately that councils had been good at keeping the momentum going. ‘We’ve had some committee members say it’s a lot better than it had been in person’, he said, ‘which is quite good to hear.’
Other topics included sustainability, healthcare and the Nightingale hospitals series, construction worker safety, working from home and space standards and the potential for site visits by video link. View more snippets from the session here.
The attendees of the first NextGen Sounding Board were:
- Selasi Setufe
– Public practice associate – BeFirst and Co-founder of Black Women in Architecture
- Salwa Alwaili
– Senior Specification Consultant – Rider Levitt Bucknall
- Jay Allan
– Account Director – London Communications Agency
- Chris Waters
– Director for Strategic Development Consulting - JLL