An associate at Bell Phillips who is standing for Parliament has said policymakers need a better understanding of the built environment – and that she will lobby for better procurement and affordable housing
Jay Morton, 34, is running for the Labour Party in the Conservative-held constituency of Chichester and is believed to be the only architect contesting a seat in next month’s general election.
Morton told the AJ that she was selected by the Chichester Labour Party because of her ’good knowledge of the built environment’ as ’the cost of housing is 14 times average income [… and] is a big problem for the area’.
And she said her experience as an architect has taught her that legislation is needed to ensure houses are high-quality and sustainable, because ‘developers won’t just do it anyway’.
‘That’s the problem we have as architects,’ she added. ’A lot of decisions are made before a development lands on my desk, and they’re not always the right decisions.’
Morton also said that architects are underrepresented in politics, because they ‘work in their little bubble’ and generally enjoy just desigining buildings. But she said there was a lot politicians could learn from architects.
‘Masterplanning principles should be applied to how we make policy across the UK,’ she said.
‘It’s about making sure people have the housing that they need, along with the amenities that they need and access to affordable transport.’
Morton also said she would like to see an overhaul of procurement – with architects given a greater role in delivering projects.
‘Quite often the [architecture] professional is in the wrong position in the chain – we end up underneath contractors.
‘You have the [architect] with a professional code to adhere to, to make sure the best decision is made for the project, and they are underneath somebody who will do what they need to to realise their timeline and budget.’
Morton will work three days a week at Bell Phillips until the end of November before campaigning full-time in the run-up to 12 December.
She said her colleagues were all very supportive and suggested the response would ‘probably not’ have been the same if she was running for the Conservative Party.
‘I can’t talk for the politics of everybody in the office but given a lot of the clients we work with, and the policies we want to see enacted in the areas we work with in London, I think the Tory policies are not quite as aligned, to put it politely.’