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What is wrong with UK housing?


Local authorities have it in their power to drive or inhibit good housing, and are a major player not addressed in this article. We have 2 schemes, one in Camden, and another elsewhere. Camden Planners and committee were exemplary in their involvement, assistance and eventual approval conditions, all orchestrated to rapidly ensure final delivery of a quality project. For the other scheme, planners and councillors have opted out. No attendance at the public meeting, no perceivable effective policy other than wavering between what they perceive nimbi's and Councillors will want. The non-elected amenity group have been left to be the conduit for dialogue, arbitters and final judge. Although helpful and well meaning in many ways they have a vested interest of Nimbyism at odds with policy that exists, and more importantly achieving housing targets. These latter factors are not adequately represented by the Council's officers to balance the dialogue. To please the amenity group, a 2 to 3 storey apartment scheme, mostly lower than the Victorian neighbours, will be built in a town centre where the process of renewal should respond to increasing population by increasing density and height. It has been a tortuous process, long drawn out. The result of this inadequacy is an authority whose record for meeting housing targets is woefully inadequate and falling behind at a compounding rate year on year, and the aesthetic / urban design quality of what generally gets built is lamentable. Wayne Hemingway's link above has an astute summary of this. I quote:- "There needs to be planners and elected planning committee members who understand good design, are trained in place making, can recognise when they are being hoodwinked or steamrollered and are empowered to stop house builder in their tracks and then work with them to deliver something fit for purpose. We need a younger profile to our elected members of local councils, anyone can stand - you just need to sacrifice some time, easier said than done when you have family and work commitments. The demographic that is being hit hardest by the housing crisis is the young; they need to find a voice. It can be too easy for house builders to use their legal and financial weight to overpower the planning system. We need more political, more skilled and creative planners and we need a career in planning to be considered every bit as desirable as architecture and design when it comes to education. We surely should be shouting more about the importance of place making to the quality of life. There is an argument for making it easier to enter the planning further education."

Posted date

11 July, 2014

Posted time

2:28 pm