UK Property Forms (UKPF) partner DevComms launched its East regional office in Cambridge with a round table discussion with local MP Daniel Zeichner and a host of leading figures in property across Cambridgeshire. UKPF managing director Matthew Battle chaired the event and reports on the discussion.

Just a few months after Housing Minister Michael Gove pinpointed Cambridge as an area of growth the round table was an opportunity to hear the view from a frontline Labour MP.

Launching the March 1 event, Mr Zeichner (pictured second from left in top image) commented on his bold manifesto statement that Cambridge should be the ‘best small city in the world’ by re-iterating the aspirations of the city to be successful. It is already on the road to achieving many of its goals but Mr Zeichner reflected that growth had come with many challenges, such as transport congestion, very high cost of living and a desperate lack of housing.

He acknowledged that Cambridge is now recognised as a region with some of the highest levels of productivity in the UK and, whilst it cannot always compete with lower paying areas, the city could be seen as a leading light in any future Government’s ambition to increase UK GDP.

He also acknowledged that one of his challenges is to convince any future Government to continue to invest in the region for the benefit of UK plc.

When it came to the inevitable discussion around the planning system, Mr Zeichner acknowledged that there is a crisis and also made a link between Covid and planning.

A solution, he said, can be found if there is collaboration and a clear decision at the next General Election would help give clarity to the discussions around planning in Cambridge and adjoining regions.

Delegates were keen to press Mr Zeichner on a range of issues such as the City Deal and the lack of resources and capacity at local government level.  He acknowledged that delivery of many of these issues will require greater engagement between the private and public sector.

If issues on planning, transport and living are to be resolved, there has to be a dialogue between public and private sectors. He is keen to be involved with this.

Delegates left with the impression Mr Zeichner is open to representation from the private sector and the electorate. If a clear majority can be achieved at the next election, the Labour party can start to resolve some of the challenges which Cambridge now faces.

Let’s hope that Mr Zeichner can continue to be a force in any future Government ensuring that the city of Cambridge remains at the front of the queue.

Jade Uko, associate director at DevComms, said: “We were delighted to celebrate our entry into the Cambridge property market with some new and familiar faces from the industry.

“I’d like to thank them, and Daniel Zeichner MP, for joining us. It was a great opportunity to bring people together to discuss key issues facing the region and the importance of the role that Cambridge will play in the future growth of the UK’s economy.

“Our East of England experts are already supporting some of the region’s biggest clients with their development proposals and aspirations. We look forward to continuing to grow our team and our network in the region.”

Guests at the round table


Matthew Battle, managing director, UK Property Forums


Daniel Zeichner, Labour MP for Cambridge


Jade Uko, associate director east, DevComms

Phil Grant, director, Axis Land Partnerships

Mike Derbyshire, head of planning, Bidwells

Ben Richardson, director, Saunders Boston Architects

Ben Nettleton, joint managing director, PJA transport planners

Nicole Norman., strategic land promoter (North Thames), Croudace Homes

Tom Fraser, director, Cambridge office, Savills

Tom Nash, partner, Mills & Reeve

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