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Established in 1984, Bouwnetwerk is made up of women active in the Dutch real estate and construction industries. They currently have approximately 120 members, varying from architects to developers and from contractors to clients. Annually, they organise six networking events about relevant topics and go on one multi-day excursion to interesting cities either at home or abroad. This year they chose to visit Manchester and Liverpool to learn what it takes to change a former industrial city into a new and future proof economy. Around 30 women took part in the trip.

After a tour around Manchester city centre in the morning, the delegation hired out a room at Ziferblat in the Northern Quarter to hear a number of talks, organised by Arcadis, from various organisations that have been heavily involved in the development of the city of Manchester in the last few decades.

Jonathan Moore, the Manchester City Exec for Arcadis, introduced the event. Then, Helen and I talked about how SimpsonHaugh has been instrumental in raising the bar for architectural design and quality within the city since the 1990s, and how we continually work with the city council and developer clients to help the city grow and thrive.

Steve Sheen, Manchester City Council’s Housing Strategy and Partnership’s Manager, presented the changes in the residential sector over the past few decades and the council’s aspirations for housing growth within Manchester and Greater Manchester as a whole, which was interesting to hear. Finally Chris Reay, Group Property Director at Allied London, detailed the success of their Spinningfields estate and also the work they are currently embarking on at both St John’s and the London Road Fire Station.

The event culminated with a walk over to 20 Stories at the top of No.1 Spinningfields for drinks in the sunshine before The Bouwnetwerk team rested up and ventured to Liverpool the next day. As a senior female working in the construction industry, it was great to encounter an established network of like-minded women from another country and a pleasure to be a part of their event.