This week, Counter Context attended Housing North West, an event hosted by the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI). Housing is a hot topic and we were keen to hear the perspectives of both the public and private sectors to find out what specific challenges are being faced in the North West, and how they are working to ‘fix’ the housing market. Account Manager Lucy Brown shares her thoughts from the day.
It is well known and understood that the housing market in the UK is, to use Theresa May’s description, ‘broken’. The Housing White Paper, released earlier this year, outlines the Government’s plans to fix it. Priorities include the right type of homes being built, that homes are built faster, that the market becomes more diversified and people are helped now.
Steve Quartermain, Director and Chief Planner at the Department for Communities and Local Government, suggested it is not just about the numbers but also about the affordability. He stressed the importance of the public and private sector working together to achieve both of these. Within the White Paper, which is currently in its consultation period, there are offers for local authorities, for the industry and for local people but it also includes asks to improve the numbers as well as the affordability.
Specifically, for the industry, The White Paper proposes offers including:
- A better-resourced system
- Further process improvements (e.g. conditions)
- Partnering with small/medium firms and promote modern methods of construction
Some of its asks include:
- Building more homes, quickly
- Investment in research and skills
- Delivery of the infrastructure needed
Another of its asks is for developers to engage with communities. We know first-hand the importance of working with communities to glean their views on the look and location of a development.
The White Paper emphasises that local communities should influence the look and location of homes built near to them and ensure that local needs are met.