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The new government must urgently tackle housing, say expert panel


A panel of experts including Alison Brooks, Deyan Sudjic, Simon Jenkins, and Paul Morrell have urged the next government to make the UK’s housing shortage its top priority

‘Housing is the crisis of our time’, said Stirling Prize-winning architect Brooks at the World Architecture Festival (WAF) pre-election breakfast event last week.

‘It has to be top of any agenda’, added New London Architecture’s Peter Murray.

Former government chief construction advisor, Paul Morrell commented: ‘The government needs to put public money into building council housing. We should be embarrassed that we cannot house our population.’

Meanwhile Design Museum director Sudjic attacked the Conservative party’s pledge to make local councils sell off their stock, describing it as ‘pretty ropey policy’ and a ‘step backwards’.

The current failure to build enough homes was put down to problems with the current planning system by columnist Simon Jenkins of The Guardian.

While William Jackson of Cushman and Wakefield, added that how land was released needed to be tackled.

‘There is enough land in London but it is how you release the land which is the issue. We need to make new parts of London – new cities within the city’, he said.

The panel, which also included Farrell’s Max Farrell, WAF’s Jeremy Melvin, Lara Kinneir of the London Festival of Architecture, and Naomi Turner for the all-party parliamentary design and innovation group.

Other issues the panel hoped any new government would tackle included public realm, infrastructure, planning and procurement.  

Read more from the event in Paul Finch’s next AJ column


Readers' comments (2)

  • Ben Derbyshire

    It’s ironic indeed that planning and house building have become so contentious with voters that discussion of an effective plan for delivery (i.e. where and how we might build) is virtually taboo for politicians - even though that is precisely where the solution to our citizen’s most pressing difficulty lies.
    Cities are the seedbed of invention and drive the success of national economies. So affordable housing provision is not just a question of fairness. If we are to retain our position as a leading economy we must sustain the opportunity for those we have attracted to our cities over the years to coexist, interact, exchange ideas and contribute to the constant renewal of our economy and culture.
    For this to happen we need a housing minister at the Cabinet table and a new devolved settlement between central government and the city regions (The Treasury controls 95% of public investment decisions in London compared to the Bourse’s 15% in Paris Region). We need a plan for delivery that says where we will build, who will build it, and how we will pay for it.
    All we have had from the parties so far is a series of vote catching initiatives that favour one group of society over another and fuel demand - nothing that adequately addresses how we will meet the backlog of supply.
    Ben Derbyshire
    Managing Partner, HTA Design LLP
    Chair, the Housing Forum.

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  • Paul McGrath

    More talk from 'leading commentators' about the housing crisis. It's action that's needed!

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