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Summit opens eyes to opportunities ahead

Put construction’s heavyweights in a room together - clients, major contractors, the wonderful variety of the supply chain - and you can really feel the buzz, especially now that the industry’s prospects are brighter.

Last week, Construction News was delighted to facilitate just such an occasion: the first Construction News Summit, held at One Whitehall Place in London.

For the 200 people who were able to join my team and me, you will appreciate the difficulty of trying to reflect a packed day’s content in just a few pages of the magazine this week. But we have done our best and there is more online.

Nothing beats the chance to hear from and talk to clients, peers and politicians face to face, but we’ve distilled the headlines.

With broadcaster and journalist Andrew Neil as our chair for the day, we were fascinated to hear from former chancellor Alistair Darling about his views on the current economy, why he has changed his mind on High Speed 2 and now, as he told Construction News, how new nuclear should be funded.

Planning minster Nick Boles took to the stage to deny there was a housing bubble across London, while Land Securities head of development Colette O’Shea and Argent managing partner David Partridge warned that the lack of a stable energy supply is one of their biggest development risks.

Land Securities is even having to build its own power substation in Victoria because no one else would.

You can read what all our speakers and panellists had to say on our Construction News Summit page.

We ended the day with a revealing debate between five of our industry’s highest-profile leaders: Nick Pollard from Balfour Beatty, Mace’s Mark Reynolds, Adrian Ringrose from Interserve, Mike Putnam of Skanska and Paul Drechsler from Wates.

We had asked them to come prepared to talk about how they will be doing business in five years’ time: the resulting conversation was fascinating, particularly what the industry has - and hasn’t - learned from the downturn.

Some of the most interesting discussions of the day were started by those in the audience. Asked what, as leaders, the CEOS are doing to encourage greater diversity in the industry, the answer from the panellists sounded very much like ‘not enough’.

There are so many opportunities ahead. Becoming less inward-looking is one of them. At next year’s Construction News Summit I look forward to hearing of the
great strides this industry is making.

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