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Labour conference: RIBA debate moots localist housing approach

The RIBA’s Sam Wilson shares his experience of the Labour Party conference in the second of a three-part guest column

After a successful Lib Dem Conference in Brighton, the RIBA headed to Manchester for the Labour Party conference. With a ten point lead in the opinion polls, there was a palpable buzz that 2015 could see the Party return to Downing Street.

The increasing political focus on housing was again underlined when the Shadow Chancellor announced that he would build 100,000 new affordable homes to kick-start the economy.

The RIBA hosted a debate with Hilary Benn, the Shadow Communities Secretary, Richard Leese, the leader of Manchester City Council, and the Future Homes Commissioner, Kate Faulkner among those on a panel that sought to answer the question of how we build more good quality homes. The debate focused heavily on the need for a new, activist role for local government in housing – a sign perhaps that the Labour Party will be taking an increasingly localist approach to policy development.

As leader of a city that has undergone a renaissance in the last two decades, Leese spoke powerfully about what local government can achieve. And Faulkner suggested that a need for a greater role for local authorities in housing delivery will be part of the commission’s upcoming report.

Next week, the party conference season concludes in Birmingham with the Conservatives. The spluttering economy will dominate proceedings and the RIBA will be meeting with ministers and other parliamentarians to ensure that the principles of good design are not lost in the dash for growth.

  • Sam Wilson is public affairs officer at the RIBA


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