Key themes for future growth

Those attending Horticulture Week's panel debate on surviving challenging times at last week's Landscape show in London enjoyed a blast of positive thinking from speakers Noel Farrer, Paul Cowell, Steve McCurdy and Norman Hambrook.

Key themes from the panel, who between them have successfully seen-off plenty of downturns and market shocks, include the need to communicate continuously the benefits of good landscaping, stick firmly to quality rather than price and to constantly enhance customer service.

All agreed that given the private sector is where growth is starting, that's where the industry needs to put its efforts right now. But that's not to say there is no movement at all in publicly-funded projects driving landscaping work as our review this week of the latest research into the progress of the UK's top 100 regeneration projects shows (see page 21).

The authors warn it is way too early to call time on regeneration's downturn, but 2010 saw 38 per cent more development space completed than 2009. Perhaps even more significant is the revelation that the kind of housing being developed is shifting away from high-density flats towards homes with gardens. This is thanks to the end of housing-density targets and the vertiginous drop in flat values developers saw in 2009. Big housebuilders, meanwhile, are approaching landscape architects to develop green infrastructure for their schemes.

Implicit in this shift is the recognition of the value that green space adds to the built environment. What we need to ensure is that this implicit recognition is made explicit right across the property market.

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