IED Online Conference preview: in conversation with Pegasus Group
Pegasus Group is Gold Sponsor for the IED Online Conference, ‘Understanding Building Back Better’, on 25th-26th May. Since 2003, Pegasus Group has grown to be a leading development consultancy in the UK, and its services span the entire project process from planning through to design and delivery. We spoke to Richard Cook, Director, Economics at Pegasus Group, ahead of the conference later this month.
Thank you for sponsoring the IED Online Conference. Why did you decide to do so?
“Pegasus Group has been a long-term member of the IED and we have been sponsoring its conferences since 2017. The Covid-19 pandemic has meant that face-to-face events have been unable to take place, however we feel it is still important to sponsor virtual events and the online conference gives us an opportunity to continue our relationship with the IED and its members. Given everything that has happened over the last 12-18 months, I don’t think there has ever been a more important time for economic development. The conference gives us the opportunity to showcase Pegasus Group’s work in this area and to hear from other stakeholders about the challenges and opportunities that are being faced around the country.”
The title of the conference is ‘Understanding Building Back Better’. What does that mean to you?
“To me, ‘Building Back Better’ means growing the economy in such a way that as many people as possible benefit from this growth. In terms of the IED conference title, it means looking at what needs to be done in order for this to actually happen. It cannot just be a one-size-fits-all solution and the range of topics being discussed at the conference shows this to be case.”
Tell us about your own session at the conference – what can delegates expect?
“The session is going to be looking at social value. One of the impacts of the pandemic is that many of the issues which fall under social value, for example mental health and wellbeing, supporting people back into work etc, have been brought into much sharper focus over the last year or so. In the work we do at Pegasus Group, I’m finding that our clients are increasingly being asked to consider the social impact of their schemes. The session will give some examples of this and consider how measuring social value can become an integral part of economic development.”
Which other aspects of the conference are you especially looking forward to?
“The main thing I’m looking forward to is the chance to hear from so many different people who work in economic development. The IED conference is pretty much the only event where this is possible and presents a great opportunity to share knowledge and learn from best practice elsewhere.”
What do you think the next 18 months holds for economic development professionals?
“From a Pegasus Group perspective, I think we’ll be working with more of our clients to consider the social and economic impact of their schemes and the benefits they can bring to areas. Based on what I’ve seen over the last few months, councils in particular are becoming more interested in this. For economic development professionals as a whole, I think the next 18 months are going to be very much focused on looking at how areas recover from the pandemic and also continue to adapt to the impact of Brexit. Helping areas to access different funding streams is going to be important in supporting the ‘Build Back Better’ agenda, something that we’ve already seen with initiatives like the Growing Places and Towns Funds.”
What services do you provide that may be able to help them?
“Economic development covers so many areas that it’s always difficult to explain succinctly the different services we provide. The economics team at Pegasus Group has a wide range of experience spanning a number of sectors including housing, retail, logistics, student accommodation and energy. We regularly work with clients and stakeholders to assess the socio-economic benefits of schemes and we are also able to assess the demand for certain types of development, such as elderly accommodation. We can also support funding bids, having recently helped a client to secure Growing Places funding from a Local Enterprise Partnership for a scheme in the East Midlands, which will unlock development at a major housing and employment site. This gives a flavour of what we do at Pegasus Group and, given the experience we have in the team, we’re well placed to help with many issues relating to economic development.”
Tickets for the IED Online Conference, ‘Understanding Building Back Better’, on 25th-26th May, are available here.