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Partnering for Success: 7 things you need to consider in an urban development partnership

Joining forces with another person or business can unlock talent, motivate and push both parties, share cost and double success. It can also welcome new skills or add strength to existing ones.

Birmingham Smithfield, where acting for Birmingham City Council we procured the development partner Lendlease.

Property is no stranger to the power of partnership, and the mutually beneficial outcomes it provides. Dynamic duos are usually formed between private sector parties such as capital-providing investors and  scheme-delivering landlords, while the public sector can have a dual role as land owner and statutory enabler.

Times are changing; more and more Local Authorities are leading and funding developments and driving the urban change agenda in their own locations, to the benefit of their local constituents – here the right partnerships are essential to success.

“When we start new projects with our public sector clients, one of the first priorities is to agree the best path to deliver this for them. Normally this will involve bringing in a partner, or partners, to assist.” Says John Percy, Head of Places team at Cushman & Wakefield.“The people we surround ourselves with can be the difference between failure and success, so it’s about making sure we can find our clients a partner whose business complements that of the client”.

We therefore ask, what transforms a desirable project to an attractive investment opportunity for both parties?

Brookfield Riverside, where on behalf of Hertfordshire County Council and the Borough of Broxbourne we procured the development partner Sovereign Centros.

Here are our 7 top ground rules to help elicit effective partnerships between the public and the private sectors, learned from our work on our projects in this sector, including Birmingham Smithfield, Brookfield Riverside and Swansea City Centre

  1. Clear Objectives
    Gaining a clear understanding of the motives, needs and wants of the public sector constituent for the development will help to align compatibly with a private sector partner.
  2. Defined structure which can adapt with the development
    Will the type of agreement provide the level of input required by both parties? We have seen many opportunities where agreements have fallen through their inflexibility.
  3. Risk assessment
    It’s critical to understand the risk profile that both parties would be willing to accept and therefore their roles.
  4. Get buy-in
    Ensuring all the key stakeholders in both parties understand points 1-3 above to ensure full support on delivery of the project. Senior leadership and support is critical.
  5. A sound procurement process
    There are many ways to procure a partner, often these are complex and time consuming. The wrong approach can lead to delay and possible failure of the whole initiative. 
  6. Assign account “leads”
    It’s really important to know the people you will be working with over the long delivery period of a development, not just who can sell the vision at day one period of a development.
  7. Establish a governance procedure that works.
    Ask if the governance will provide the level of input required by both parties and again allow for the flexibility to adapt? 

Our team has over 30 years of experience in property ‘matchmaking’, building partnerships between public and private sectors, working on mutually beneficial developments that also benefit the local community. If you would like to discuss this in relation to your project and how we can connect you with a public or private sector counterpart, please get in touch with John Percy, our Head of Places team