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Read the below blog by our Chartered Building Surveyor, Agata Tymon, on her experience of taking part in the British Property Federation Futures Challenge.

In September 2019, I took part in the first ever BPF Futures High Street Challenge – an initiative aimed at solving one of the biggest challenges facing our towns and cities. Whilst some high streets continue to thrive, others must transform to stay relevant. So, to inject some fresh thinking into this problem, the Office of Government Property, the Local Government Association, the British Property Federation and U+I partnered up to organise this innovative challenge.

The initiative brought together around 100 professionals drawn from the public and private sectors with 10 years’ or less experience in the property sector, to focus on the town centre of Hyde in Tameside, Greater Manchester.

I decided to apply for the challenge, because the whole reason I became a building surveyor was to make a difference, and to help people. So getting involved in this initiative seemed like a no-brainer.

In preparation we were sent some background information, which included Thameside Council’s vision for Hyde. The main focus was on creating a thriving town centre with increased footfall, which would have a consolidated retail core and would be attractive to the community within the large residential catchment area.  We were also informed that £100,000 would be awarded through the government’s One Public Estate programme to bring forward the winning proposal from the challenge.

On day 1 we were briefed on Thameside’s and One Public Estate’s objectives for the challenge and got to meet our team members. We were also introduced to a panel of experts whom were on hand throughout the challenge to give advice and lend their expertise.  Each team was later split across different sessions, which provided further insights into all aspects of the challenge and where further questions were answered. Following that, the teams reconvened to share learnings from each briefing and ideas. We were encouraged to be ambitious with our ideas, whilst simultaneously being realistic about what we can achieve with the £100,000 budget.

On day 2, we were tasked with agreeing our objectives, developing three creative alternatives to the brief, and defining our solutions.  After a productive morning of planning, we presented our vision to a panel before delivering a two-minute pitch to the rest of the challengers. Naturally, there were some overlapping themes, such as Heart of Hyde, Hyde and Seek, creation of a new focal point for the town, pedestrianisation of the retail high street, and creation of a new NHS hub.  At the end of the day, the judges shortlisted three pitches and fortunately my team’s idea made it on the final.

Around a week later, at MIPIM UK, I am delighted to say that my team’s (Team 7 – Reynold Street) idea of giving Hyde town centre a ‘healthy heart’ – to renew its sense of purpose and provide a consolidated central hub of energy to galvanise a wider step change – was announced as the winner.

I am so proud that my team’s idea won and that our vision will become reality. Despite it being a tough and busy day, I would definitely take part again. I learned a lot from my team, the other challengers and the panel of experts, making it an invaluable experience.

I can’t wait to see how it all develops.  Huge well done and thank you to the organisers!