Surrey Development Forum 2023 Round Up

2023 has been another successful year for the Surrey Development Forum, with a variety of well attended meetings and events. We are delighted that the membership now comprises 32 developer members and lead officers from all the local authorities in Surrey. We are working to continue growing the membership into the Forum’s fourth year.  

We have had another busy year. The year started with a showcase ahead on the 30th January, ensuring engagement with both developer and LPA members to influence agenda items for 2023. The first full Forum meeting took place on the 24th February virtually and included an insightful discussion on Design Codes across the County from the County and district/brough Councils as well as private sector members. In March, we held a virtual workshop as a CPD training event promoted at more junior colleagues at the member organisations and discussed various topics including Climate Change, BNG and Local Nature Recovery Strategy. On the 13th April, Cratus led a CPD Session including a Local Government Update across Surrey in advance of the Local Elections in May. In May 2023, we submitted a representation to the Surrey Hills AONB Boundary Review consultation on behalf of Developer Members. Another Full Forum meeting took place in June at Guildford Borough Council Offices and included a variety of interesting presentations on self/custom build delivery, Active Travel England Guidance and planning resource across the county. On the 19th September, the second in-person forum meeting of the year was at Spelthorne Council Offices and key topics were discussed including Net Zero Carbon work programmes, DLUHC consultation on Plan Making and SCC introduced the Healthy Streets Design Guide Tool. We held a networking dinner at the House of Lords in October (attended by some Peers and Council Leaders) and the year concluded with another successful Annual Conference at Sandown Park Racecourse in November 

Lord Porter of Spalding kindly hosted us for dinner at the House of Lords. It created a platform for discussion and debate between our members and the key decision-makers of Surrey’s local authorities fuelled by fine food and wine. This included key discussions with private and public sector members to encourage more young people into planning careers, how affordability can be improved across the County and open and honest conversations about Green Belt.  

We also hosted our third annual conference in November, with a large number of members in attendance for what proved to be yet another engaging event. The theme for this year was focused around ‘delivering change through challenging times’ and the critical issues surrounding Surrey’s development landscape. The panellists, speakers and sponsors all played a huge role in inspiring the insightful and lively debate on the day. Key highlights included Wesley Ankrah from Savills Earth talking about the importance of social value in development projects and how it needs to be embedded all the way through the design and construction process. Rupert Warren KC from Landmark Chambers also spoke about the impending NPPF, its impact on development and the likely hiatus that might be caused by the changing of Government in 2024/25. The need to build more social and good quality temporary housing was widely raised and discussed as an inevitable but major concern. Many thought that the highlight of the day was the roundtable discussion where attendees were able to write an open letter of suggestions to all major political parties in the UK. 

Over the course of our meetings, Homes England, National Highways, Natural England and Surrey Wildlife Trust have featured as guest speakers to provide strategic updates. In addition, the Forum has met informally for developer-only sessions to discuss matters of mutual interest. This year we have also prepared and submitted representations on relevant emerging strategies. Our Linked-In presence as also grown, with approaching 1,000 connections.  

In our third year, the Forum has continued to provide an agency for collaboration and enhanced communication on key strategic matters and created a space to discuss relevant key issues affecting Surrey as a whole, including discussing opportunities for smart growth and place making. As a private and public sector forum, we are committed to ensuring that the concerns and opinions of developers, planning officer, members and local residents are better understood by all stakeholders, collectively working to enable Surrey to thrive. 

From all of us at the Surrey Development Forum, we would like to wish you a Happy New Year and thank you for your ongoing support. Please keep tuned in by following our Linked-In page and checking out the new website when launched. 

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