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Goodbye 2021…

And hello 2022

Writing a story for you all to read infographic

Looking back at 2021

Hello 3Fox network,

Thanks to Covid-19, we all started the year with uncertainty. But there are always some reasons to be grateful so, as we get ready to say goodbye to 2021, we’d like to take a moment to reflect on those – and to thank our viewers, speakers and partners for providing reasons to be cheerful.

3Fox Presents

Our 3Fox Presents channel streamed 16 webinars. We were delighted to work with Hertfordshire Fire and Rescue Services on two events with vital messages: Let’s Talk Mental Health in the Fire Services and Black History Month with Hertfordshire Fire and Rescue – #ProudToBe webinar. Humbling and uplifting, the first featured blue light services members sharing personal experiences and hoping to quash the stigma facing anyone seeking help with mental health; the second celebrating the personal and professional accomplishments of Black British people in Hertfordshire. And we took a look at the links between behavioural change and improving inclusivity with Hertfordshire County Council and its partners in a webinar called Diversity and Inclusion in Hertfordshire: Beyond Covid. As event producers, we loved how emotional and emotive feedback from viewers and participants brought these webinars to life for us. It was a privilege.

The Voice of Authority

Over on The Voice of Authority we presented 26 webinars covering many of the development and planning issues keeping council representatives awake at night. They included  a series on dramatic changes to procurement heralded by the Construction Playbook, with framework SCAPE and its partners; and a trilogy on transport and development issues with Transport for London and Montagu Evans. We continued to investigate council housebuilding activity, with expert panels addressing new research, the politics of direct delivery and important aspects of building for private sale and rent, working with Renkap, Red Loft, Tile Hill Recruitment and SCAPE. And we very much enjoyed revealing a huge opportunity for new homes in an episode on deploying church land for housing (with councillor Leo Pollack taking part from his car, illustrating the flexibility of webinars compared to traditional events) with U+I.

Ask The Voice of Authority

We also took the opportunity to “Ask The Voice of Authority” in our fortnightly, wide-ranging, one-to-one conversations with council leaders, members and senior officers – including four leaders taking part in their first interviews of this kind; indeed, London Borough of Waltham Forest’s councillor Grace Williams had been sworn in only the evening before. Hertfordshire County Council’s councillor Richard Roberts and councillor Claire Holland of London Borough of Lambeth had a little longer to prepare for their informal yet revealing sessions. Supported by Carter Jonas, Future-Built, GLE and London Square Partners, we detected a growing assertiveness on development, growth and housing, summed up by London Borough of Ealing’s councillor Peter Mason: “We have to distinguish between the good developers with a commitment to people and places, and weed out the flippers, who just want to turn a profit. If you are a housing association or pension fund looking to innovate, we will work with you to try and deliver on our agenda, which is directly for residents. If the private sector won’t do it, we’ll do it ourselves.”

Sitematch365

Elsewhere, our place-based channel Sitematch365 streamed events throughout the year. Highlights for us included working with Lincolnshire County Council to help find development partners for the South Lincolnshire Food Enterprise Zone. All 10 phase one plots were signed up, thanks in part to our “gold standard of webinars” which attracted over 400 viewers over two episodes. And, of course, returning to three dimensions with our first in-person event, Sitematch High Streets and Town Centres, alongside Completely Retail Marketplace and Revo at Old Billingsgate in London. We were intensely chuffed to broker 285 focused meetings and three round table discussions for 20 councils. Developers identified schemes and sought-after occupiers found new space as a result – we’d like to take all the credit, but we couldn’t have done it without Willmott Dixon, Montagu Evans, Inner Circle Consulting and U+I.

3Fox Brand

And finally, over at 3Fox Brand, we’ve hugely enjoyed working with Bristol City Council to create and launch www.originalbybristol.com; and bringing together Watford’s stakeholders to build an increasingly compelling place narrative, now being road tested.  Watford is a town united by possibility and shared opportunities, and it has been a fantastic journey to be on with them.  There’s plenty more where that came from: we have an education design lab to launch; new regeneration schemes for several councils (we’ll tell you as soon as we’re allowed!); analysis of ethical construction methods and new settlement design; a celebration of council housebuilding; and one-to-ones with two of London’s most dynamic council leaders. And that’s just in January.

So, in a year of shadows, sadness and often isolation, we strove to bring our network together with insight, energy and companionship. We’ll do the same and more in 2022. And that is thanks entirely to our partners, our speakers and you, our viewers and champions.

Thank you! Stay in touch.

Toby Fox
Managing director