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Housing Minister backs ‘Building Local’ to tackle the housing crisis

Housing Minister Mark Prisk MP has called for the whole housing industry to learn from the examples set by local associations featured in a new report from PlaceShapers. The ‘Build Local’ report shows how to build high-quality new homes in thriving communities, despite the property market slump.

Launching the report at PlaceShapers’ sixth annual conference on 30 April, the Minister said: “We need to move on from the old ‘Blue versus Red’ political approaches. There’s not a simple or single solution to providing the homes that Britain needs – none of the sectors will suffice on its own. We need the sort of new thinking and practical action demonstrated by PlaceShapers to invigorate all housing providers and achieve long-term, lasting change.”

Mr Prisk acknowledged that housing markets have become “increasingly dysfunctional” and that, over the last 15 years, the UK has built “less than half the numbers of homes needed to match the growth in households.”

He highlighted the particular challenge of thinking and acting long term, to meet the rising challenge of an ageing population: “Sixty per cent of projected household growth is due to the happy fact that we’re all living longer. Housing providers need to share their ideas, resources and experience, and really involve local people in developing flexible homes for older people at the heart of communities.”

With the pressure on to deliver big numbers of new homes, the Minister warned against just concentrating on bricks and mortar: “The focus has to be on people – creating communities that bind people together, just like the schemes showcased in this report.”

Writing in his foreword to ‘Build Local’, Lord Richard Best OBE, President of the Local Government Association and Chair of Hanover Housing Group echoed this view, saying: “quality counts as much as quantity. PlaceShapers are key contributors in this national effort.”

‘Build Local’ features 12 case studies from across the country, including urban and rural schemes, from village cul-de-sacs to huge, inner-city regeneration programmes.

It also has suggestions on other ways to increase the numbers of new homes – often at nil or low cost. These include the strategic release of Green Belt land, community savings bonds and changes to housing association loans.

Partnership is a core theme. Housing providers can only succeed through tight, joint working with local councils, the Homes and Communities Agency, contractors, consultants, community groups and others. So the report also has ten viewpoints from these other perspectives – pinpointing precisely what’s necessary to build neighbourhoods that last.

Chair of PlaceShapers and Chief Executive of South Yorkshire Housing Association, Tony Stacey, said: “A pattern book to developing housing just doesn’t work. But our publication shows that the build local approach used by PlaceShapers’ associations really does. Politicians, housebuilders and communities of all sorts should learn from and act on the powerful lessons in this report.“

To read the full report click here.

To watch DVD case studies from the report, please click here


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