Housing 2022: Local Communities Are The Housing Sector’s Focus
The Chartered Institute of Housing (CIH) 2022 conference (28-30 June) in Manchester saw local authorities, housing associations, key partners and suppliers, government, housebuilders and developers come together. Housing Industry Leaders looks at the Housing Minister, the Rt Hon Stuart Andrew MP’s speech and the need for the housing sector to focus on local communities.

In 2022, the housing sector will face many challenges. The industry must discuss the levelling-up agenda, skills, innovation, regeneration, affordable housing, sustainability, retrofitting, safe housing, and economic recovery.

The Levelling Up And Regeneration Bill Will Consider All Parts Of the Housing Market

At CIH’s Housing 2022, Housing Minister, The Rt Hon Stuart Andrew MP, began by talking about the Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill: “When we’re talking about current housebuilding, the sector has, in many ways, defied all expectations.”

Even with the challenging economic backdrop, the Housing Minister expressed that the “numbers will climb back up in the coming months and years.”

So, our ambition now is to do everything we can to scale up delivery and help the sector – to help you – overcome the barriers from holding you back.

Local Plans Need To Be Prepared Faster And Made More Relevant

The Housing Minister continued to talk about the benefits of the Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill and explained that the Bill “will bring much-needed agility to our planning system.

“Because right now, the speed and the versatility of our planning system do not marry up to what we want to achieve in our housing market.”

He said it takes an average of seven years for councils to prepare a local plan: “Every single delay has a very real knock-on effect that people in the industry feel. 94 per cent of small and medium-sized developers say delays in securing planning permissions are a major concern.”

So, the case for swifter, slimmer, more locally relevant plans is not just overwhelming, it’s an urgent one.

He continued to say that this is where the Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill comes in because it simplifies the content of local plans and standardises the process for producing them.

Local Communities Need To Have A Say Where Houses Are Built

With more local plans and faster approvals of planning applications, the Housing Minister said, “we’ll reduce speculative development.”

However, we also need to build in more popular support for new homes at the beginning of this process too.

Consistently poll after poll reveals that people are more likely to support new developments that are well designed and in keeping with the local area. Therefore, councils and the housing sector want to adhere to BIDEN principles of what the Rt Hon Stuart Andrew MP described as “beauty, infrastructure, democracy, environment, and neighbourhoods in everything that’s built.”

Helping developers focus their efforts on creating homes that achieve the principles, the new design codes the UK Government is introducing hope to provide homes the local community want.

In addition, the Housing Minister said that Street Votes would also ensure that local communities see homes delivered in the locations they want to be built.

More Social Housing Will Be Delivered

In addition to the government’s Affordable Homes Programme, the Housing Minister explained that local authorities had been given a comprehensive range of tools to deliver more social housing: “As you just heard, I grew up on a council estate in North Wales – the sense of community there, of neighbours looking out for each other, had a very lasting impact on me. It’s one of the reasons why I got into politics.

I’m proud to be part of a government that is making it easier for local authorities to build more council homes.

He continued to explain that the government has abolished the HRA borrowing cap and through this, has given councils more flexibility over how they spend Right to Buy receipts: “The Right to Buy Scheme – recently extended in the PM’s speech – also helps to replenish our social housing stock while giving 2.5 million tenants the chance to realise their dreams of homeownership.

That’s because, as part of that announcement, we’ve made a clear commitment – carved in stone – to build a new social home for every one that is sold.

Five Years After Grenfell, Safety Is The Main Focus In The Housing Sector

To conclude his speech at Housing 2022, the Housing Minister spoke about the vital reforms that have been seen on safety, as this month marks the fifth anniversary of the Grenfell Tower Fire: “Through our Building Safety Pledge, we’re also making sure that industry steps up to the plate and pays to fix the problems they created.

“I’m pleased that over 45 developers have signed that pledge and commitment to fix the unsafe buildings they developed over the last 30 years.

“Our ambition now is to turn those pledges into legally binding contracts, so there’s no doubt, no wiggle-room and no delay in making sure that every building in this country is safe.”

The Housing Minister’s speech shows that the housing sector must now focus on building safer, better-quality, more sustainable housing for local communities.