Crystal Ball Gazing #1 Housing and Planning

Crystal ball gazing #1 Housing and Planning

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A massive subject but one that is high up the political agenda, locally and nationally – at last.

Anything done in terms of delivering new homes will only be a small contribution to the overall need for new homes nationally though the needs vary from place to place.

Sites that are available, affordable and desirable have to be considered with emerging planning policies and public support within the context of the economy and changing need. All are moving targets. The politics is rarely static in the long term.

Housing must now live with an uncertain future outside the EU, which may mean changes to law and regulations, and even be affected by immigration and construction labour availability. All consequences of the Brexit referendum result.

Urban Design London offer a forum for London Boroughs and interested parties to debate these and other important issues for London. Last week on 12 January. the new Deputy Mayor for London, James Murray presented an overview of housing which the Mayor Sadiq Khan had made a key part of his manifesto. It came across as well thought through and moving forward well. It is still early days but the ambition and clarity shone through. Points discussed during the day included:

  • Demand and location for homes
  • Delivering affordable homes (affordability being defined in many ways)
  • How accessibility, design guidance and densification impact urban development
  • Estate regeneration and others discrete interventions (small sites etc)

This is a part of a much bigger picture. The next version of the London Plan has just started on its journey, with draft consultation in the Autumn of 2017, Examination in Public in Summer 2018 and the final version in Autumn 2019.

When looking forward it is always valuable to give some consideration to recent futures. Institutional memory is short particularly now that jobs for life have disappeared.

Looking at the Place Alliance website took me to a short summary report on Housing Futures prepared by CABE in 2004. The study was looking at the next 20 years so 2004-2024. We are more than half way there. What was surprising was how on the one hand so much had changed in the political background but that the challenges and issues were still very much the same.

Broken down into 7 papers the broad subject headings are:

  • Cities
  • Suburbs
  • 21st Century Homes
  • Housing Economics
  • Climate
  • Governance and
  • Regeneration

This is a snap shot of a huge subject.

I am reminded that one of the authors, Christine Whitehead, said on Radio 4’s Today Programme recently when commenting on the latest housing initiative – (a version of garden cities, now including towns and villages) that there had been over 150 initiatives on housing since 2010.