Tony Pidgley CBE congratulated the West London boroughs for ‘leading the way’ in collaborative working.
Pidgley, Chairman of Berkeley Group PLC, delivered a rousing closing keynote speech at the Capital West London Growth Summit – championing house building, good-quality design and the importance of local authorities and developers working in unison.
He praised the boroughs of the West London Alliance – Barnet, Brent, Ealing, Hammersmith & Fulham, Harrow, Hillingdon and Hounslow – for seeing the bigger picture and showing the leadership required to help solve the capital’s current housing issues.
“I always like it when local authorities take the initiative. I am pleased to talk about this West London vision, and the seven boroughs working together,” he said.
“It is about partnership, but first it is about strong political leadership. It is also about collaboration. Good politicians have to know what their communities want. But more than that they have to lead.
“We, the builders, have to believe in what we say, to make those places, those communities. It’s about listening to, and understanding people’s concerns. What do they want to change? It comes down to decency and values.”
The Berkeley Group have developments in both Brent and Ealing and Pidgely paid tribute to the respective councils’ approach to helping them deliver more homes for their boroughs.
“People say ‘what on earth have you bought that site in Northfields for?’ It’s an industrial estate behind the Ace Cafe on the North Circular. We had 17 residents’ associations against the development. But we talked to them. To the schools, at the events, we hosted summer festivals and eventually we got them all on side,” he said.
“We ran an architectural competition, and the one that the people voted for got the job.
“We went to see the leader, and talked through the vision. Said we wanted to meet every month. And we met on a monthly basis. Got real engagement from members and officers working together with us in a spirit of partnership.
“So many leaders won’t meet us. Talking to each other is fantastic. Mohammed Butt set out what he wanted – 35% affordable, a community centre, open space.
“In Southall, there were 84 acres, derelict for years. We sit in Ealing. We couldn’t ask for a better partner. The public and private sectors need to work in partnership.”
Pidgley closed by stressing the need for others to follow this lead and reinforced the strong message, that everyone deserved a house to call their own.
“We need to champion house building and we need a home for everyone at every level,” he said. “Everyone should have a home and home building should be a force for good. We all need to feel safe, secure and proud. A home gives us a stake in our community. Home gives us belonging.
“West London boroughs are leading the way, and I congratulate them for that, we need others to follow their example.”