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PlaceShapers welcomes the publishing of the Great Place Commission report

PlaceShapers today welcome the publishing of the Great Place Commission report, which included its chair and four members as Commissioners.

The Great Places Commission came together in March 2018 to understand what makes a place great, and consider how housing associations, working with national and local government and other partners, can help make these a reality.

PlaceShapers Chair Sinéad Butters said: “The Commission has uncovered the diversity of need that underpin the solutions.

“Some areas need much more than new build housing to help them prosper. These places need proper jobs, skills training, patient, long-term capital investment, and sometimes more radical solutions.” 

The report says: “Many housing associations are grappling with the challenges of revitalising under-performing places in the face of adversity. As commissioners, developers and managers of millions of homes across the country, housing associations play an important role in encouraging and prioritising high-quality, inclusive and people-centred placemaking.

Successful placemaking may involve major physical redevelopment, as we encountered in Birmingham and Nottingham. Housing associations, with their long-term stakes in places, are well-placed in many areas to lead such processes. But in other areas, where local authorities are no longer able to lead regeneration, and while private sector development often seeks to minimise long-term design quality as a short-term cost, it can be difficult for good placemaking to prevail.

Strong national and local planning policy, and conditions attached to public sector funding, can be powerful tools to encourage good design. Working with communities from the beginning of the process, and subsequently throughout, will help identify the right design and secure support for it.”

With support from the National Housing Federation, the Commission visited towns and cities across the North and Midlands, meeting housing associations, stakeholders and local residents.  Drawing on this, the Commission has made 10 recommendations:

  1. The Government should develop an ambitious new national regeneration strategy backed by £10 billion additional investment over a decade. It should explicitly prioritise places and people in greatest need, and should support housing investment alongside related economic, social and physical activity. 
  1. The Government must provide local authorities with a sustainable future funding settlement so they can rebuild their capacity and skills, enabling them to lead and coordinate placemaking across every community.
  1. The Government should introduce mandatory good design standards for all new development, including homes and wider placemaking.
  1. The Government should enable improved local management of the private rented sector through a mandatory national landlord register and greater flexibility for councils to establish local licensing schemes.
  1. The Government should require Local Industrial Strategies to include the role of housing, including affordable housing.
  1. Housing associations should commit to cross-sector partnership in each local area. This can focus vital leadership and amplify the sector’s impact in each community.
  1. Anchor organisations, including housing associations, should commit to asset-based community development. This identifies and mobilises community’s strengths and targets resources accordingly. Its objective is to ensure that services to promote wellbeing and opportunity are delivered most effectively to those who need them most.
  1. Housing association boards should review their approach to property sales and transfers to ensure the best outcomes for communities. Boards should always assure an ethical approach to any disposal.
  1. Housing associations should embed wider community benefit requirements in their procurement. They should also investigate local wealth building strategies, which seek to capture and recirculate greater levels of local investment for social purposes.
  1. Housing associations should proactively engage with local authorities and Local Enterprise Partnerships to ensure affordable housing and inclusive growth are central to Local Industrial Strategies.

The Commissioners are:

Graham Burgess, Chair of Torus Housing Group Common Purpose Board

Sinéad Butters, Group Chief Executive of Aspire Housing and Chair of PlaceShapers

Steve Coffey, Group Chief Executive, Torus

Mark Henderson, Chief Executive of Home Group and Board Member at the National Housing Federation

Helen Lennon, Chief Executive of Connect Housing

Angela Lockwood, Chief Executive of North Star Housing Group

Mary Parsons, Group Director of Placemaking and Regeneration at Places for People and Chair of the Town and Country Planning Association

David Procter, Chair of Together Housing Group

Kevin Rodgers, Chief Executive of WM Housing

Sonia Thompson, Board Member of Tuntum Housing Association

Ian Wardle, Chief Executive of Thirteen Group

Dr David Walker, Bishop of Manchester and Chair of Wythenshawe Community Housing Group.

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