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Hundreds gather in Salford at Construction Summit North

Simon Gorski, managing director UK regions at Lendlease, speaking at the Construction Summit North.

Several hundred delegates from across the north west packed into The Point at Emirates Old Trafford today for the fifth Construction Summit North event.

The event gives constructiona nd infrastructure professionals the chance to connect with some of the biggest names in the industry, as well as providing them with the opportunity to discuss the latest developments in the region and across the UK construction sector.

Opening the event, Greater Manchester Chamber chief executive Clive Memmott said that the summit was taking place at a crucial time for the industry nationally, but especially in the north. With the recently announced recommendations from the National Infrastructure Commission, Memmott said: “The opportunities are there like never before at local, regional and national levels.”

Memmott voiced his concerns about the continuing Brexit chaos and warned that the industry needed more certainty in order to deliver on the region’s and nation’s needs. In a sober assessment of the challenges facing the construction and infrastructure sector in the north, Memmott also highlighted the need for the industry and opinion formers to work together to get things done. 

He also criticised the delay in the implementation of the Greater Manchester Spatial Strategy. While recognising the need for further consultation to get the strategy right, Memmott said that he wasn’t at all confident that the strategy would deliver on the needs of the region. Greater Manchester mayor Andy Burnham’s views on this issue should be very interesting when he addresses the summit later today.

First keynote speaker, Simon Gorski, managing director UK regions at Lendlease, highlighted his view that the industry’s business model was broken and the whole sector needed to work better together to improve its attractiveness. Gorski pinpointed promoting the social value of projects as key to improving construction’s image amongst the public and particularly to young people. He also highlighted the need for a best-value approach and slammed lowest-cost tendering which he said had proved disasterous for the industry and indeed the clients of it.

The summit’s key focus is on client requirements, including new procurement routes, productivity and the difference that digital manufacturing and engineering can make and also the Greater Manchester housing deal and the construction skills shortage. Keynote speaker Andy Burnham, mayor of Greater Manchester, will certainly have some interesting views on the latter issue when he speaks to delegates later.