There is much to be welcomed in the Government’s Autumn Budget, which has seen the government putting housing at the heart its non-Brexit policies.
We welcome in particular the Government’s investment in house building across the UK, helping to make house-ownership a reality for many more people.
U+I is also supportive of the Chancellor’s focus on building high quality, high density homes in city centres and urban areas close to transport hubs. But, as the Chancellor quite rightly said, funding alone will not tackle the systematic issues holding back the UK’s housing sector.
If we are to effect real change, and truly make the dream of home ownership a possibility for all generations, Government and private sector must work together to overcome the barriers standing in the way of progress.
That means thinking more imaginatively about freeing up public land, improving the planning process and championing the thoughtful design of mixed-use communities.
Unused public land is a wasted public asset. Making the most of redundant public sector land in partnership with the private sector not only ensures it remains in public ownership, it can also generate income for hard-pressed local government coffers.
The UK also needs better resourced planning departments who are able to move fast, with staff who are prepared to update planning in line with the way people lead their lives. There have been positive signs in this area, such as the announcement of the space standards review in the Housing White Paper, as well as Sajid Javid’s letter to Councils last week about producing Local Plans; but more decisive action is still needed – in particular, when it comes to addressing space standards.
More importantly, it is crucial that Government and industry think more holistically about how and where people want to live and work. This isn’t just about increasing the number of houses, it’s also about creating places that will sustain and support the future communities of our cities. Increasingly people want to live, work and play in the same area. Developers need to respond by thinking thoughtfully about design of mixed-use spaces – and building communities and places people feel proud of.
We know there is a need for the private sector to shoulder some of the responsibility and push innovation, challenge accepted norms and champion change if we are to develop solutions. We’ll be around to deliver real places for a long time to come – and we look forward to working with Government and others in the industry to tackle the barriers standing in the way of innovation in the sector.