Sunday, 19 July, 2020


Jamie Ounan

We believe that the best solutions are yet to be discovered and the best outcomes yet to be delivered. That is why we prepare organisations for change and help them implement it. We do this through an intimate understanding of their business, a relentless focus on delivery, the use of techniques that challenge the status quo and bridge traditional disciplines. We provide a range of services to public and private organisations including project and programme management, property consultancy, change management and strategy development and strategic advice. Contact us to discuss a project.

Sunday, 19 July, 2020



We are seeing the acceleration of efforts to plan for and stimulate a recovery at a local level and “partnership” is the watchword. Arising from necessity, the commitment to partnerships is now more profound than we’ve seen before.

Watch this space for Camden’s new high-powered recovery partnership with UCL Institute for Innovation and Public Purpose.  The Council knows too well that crises hit communities unequally, so their effort is is focusing on a better, fairer economic outcomes from the local recovery. We will be running a webinar on 6th August with Camden and other council representatives on just how to achieve this inclusive economic recovery at a local level.


ASELA is sub-regional partnership on a mission to tackle the underlying challenges of accelerating housing delivery. Our work with the partnership and Homes England should unlock the door to millions of pounds of investment and new forms of public-private delivery arrangements. The timing couldn’t be more important as city dwellers reconsider their life choices and the suburbs and places like Southend on Sea, with ample space and access to nature, hold new attraction.


We chaired an embryonic Partnership Board for Welwyn Garden City as part of its Centenary programme. The Garden City model is a global darling of multiple governments strategic planning efforts. Whilst the centenary celebrations are muted, the crisis has created a moment of focus to consider the next 100 years. The Hertfordshire town hosted economic giants from the retail, pharmaceutical and technology sectors and joined by the University, Chamber of Commerce, local Council, LEP and Homes England to explore what now and where next? It highlighted all too clearly the economic winners and losers from COVID, but the spirit of partnership was strong and there was an overwhelming sense of getting sleeves rolled up to make a practical action plan where the garden city principles of combining town and country were augmented by a new combination of social and digital.


We are also seeing different forms of partnership. Housing Associations and RPs are getting creative, with one RP offering Development Management team to a Local Authority so it can accelerate its Council Homes programme. We’ve seen RP to RP mergers, RP and private sector partnerships, we wonder why we’ve not seen more RP and Local Authority partnerships of his nature?


We are certainly grateful to our partners. We’ve combined with the emerging Voice of Authority to run a highly informative, positive and practical webinar series. Similarly it is testament the strength our partnership with Cornwall Council and Arcadis that we keep the show on the road with major projects like Pydar Street and Langarth Garden Village. In these tricky times, going the extra mile to collaborate and Inner Circle’s commitment to progress are wonderful to witness and make the team very proud.



We recently received a mind-blowing presentation from the CEO of Association of Town Centre Managers, who set out how rapidly the high street experience is changing. From Apple’s disruption of stalwarts such as HMV to its own redundancy due to streaming apps within 10 short years. Or the way Ryan’s Toy Review has over 40bn views on YouTube and the 9 year old’s net-worth is more than Toys R Us at its peak.


With quotes floating around such as, “we’ve had 5 years of retail change in 5 months,” the pace of change feels ferocious, so it has us looking at the underlying principles. We all know Moore’s Law, about the number of transistors in an integrated circulate doubling about every two years, extrapolated to forecast that computing power and personal computing accessibility would be on  an exponential growth curve. Extrapolated further to other types of technology, Kurzweil’s Age of Spiritual Machines states “An analysis of the history of technology shows that technological change is exponential, contrary to the common-sense ‘intuitive linear’ view. So we won’t experience 100 years of progress in the 21st century—it will be more like 20,000 years of progress.”


Most excitingly Kurzweil predicts that whenever a technology approaches some kind of a barrier, a new technology will be invented to allow us to cross that barrier.

So whilst the acceleration feels like a product of the pandemic, the crisis is just a nudge (or perhaps a shove) along the inevitable curve of progress, which links back to the messages from our June post from Steven Pinker’s Enlightenment Now: the case for reason, sicken, humanism and progress. What does this mean for place-making, local economies and public services? Lots for future posts.



As with many of you, we’ve been practicing social distancing and going out as museums, galleries, restaurants, and pubs reopen. This has been an incredible effort on the part of local authorities and private sector to make these spaces ready for the public. We’re particularly excited about some new ideas popping up, like Enfield’s The Drive In, which sees family friendly US drive-in culture with all the snacks and fun attached. Great use outdoor space and adaptation to the pandemic.


This week will mark one year since Boris Johnson became Prime Minister, so look out for a number of recognitions of this, such as Tim Shipman’s piece for the Sunday Times on Boris Johnson’s first year in charge.