One World Week: Reimagining Our Responsibilities

With Adrian Stokes, Land & Development Director for Midlands & North at Lifestory Group.

The property industry is founded by a premise of innovating the world around us, redefining the land we acquire as nuanced residential and commercial spaces, in creation of communities that improve peoples’ lives. In every core decision we make, the act of development is apparent: we take pride in crafting something new and attach our name to it, our brand story, identifiable and personable as evidence that pride in property ownership takes place in several complementary forms. A Lifestory community; your home. In this nature, we seek to be the best players in our field, iterating a differentiable edge, a unique offering. 

Yet we have to find compromise in our ambitions. The industry is undeniably rocked by concerns of our environment, our climate and our responsibilities to pave a middle ground between aspiring development and sustainability, encompassing our responsibility as broad players to support future generations. In essence of the UN’s One World Week,  we have to approach the subject authentically. Property development, by default, hinders sustainability; producing 20% of global greenhouse gas emissions per year by activating 40% of the planet’s raw materials. This is a fact that Lifestory, a leader in reshaping the residential property field, can’t turn a blind eye to, among the other housing crises facing the sector at large. It would be easy to distance ourselves from the subject, or look to the bigger players to take action, but instead, we must encompass and tackle the challenges we face: resource scarcity;  climate change; safety and security of people in poor quality homes; microenvironments needing regeneration. In response to these pressing issues, we must innovate; the time for well-meaning conversations has passed. Simply, the property development industry must undergo development. 

At Lifestory, we’ve embedded this at the source. Time, money and care is spent in ensuring we acquire land that we can repurpose and mould to safeguard the future. Several of our communities integrate listed buildings that have needed intense refurbishment, giving way to the question of demolition or restoration. For the sake of the climate, collaboration with others in enabling restoration, thus repurposing and sustaining periodic buildings, must be the natural inclination as we strive towards finding a balance between innovation and conservation. In the absence of a cookie-cutter product offering, we sustainably future-proof our industry, revitalising communities with modern specification, for example installing green technology and low carbon heat networks.   

Moreover, we have a responsibility to review and reform the way we perceive homebuilding and the communities that are therefore created. In the presence of a national housing crisis attributed to an aging population, we must evolve and adapt to the multigenerational population. As our lives become more interconnected and dependent, actors within the industry have a collective responsibility to improve our approach developing the sites we acquire. In reimagining the industry as less competitive and more collaborative, we can sustain our efforts to innovate and rejuvenate, finding a middle ground to support ourselves and future generations.