event write up, North West committee

Challenging the Convention: The Future of Housing

Women in Planning North West were delighted to welcome a number of our members to our third event of our inaugural year kindly hosted and sponsored by Cushman and Wakefield on 28 June. The theme for the evening was Challenging the Convention: The Future of Housing – exploring different ways to deliver the ambitious Government target of 300,000 homes per year.

The evening was introduced by Rhian Davitt-Jones, Senior Consultant at Cushman and Wakefield and Vice Chair of Women in Planning North West.

Caroline Baker, Head of Cushman and Wakefield’s Manchester Office, kicked off by providing an overview of the housing market in Manchester City centre and its surrounds, which is showing positive indications following an increase in completions in 2017. Caroline’s key message was that: Increasing housing completions is not rocket science but requires a number of different ingredients including: willing developers such as registered providers (example New Charter Homes, Summers Quay development in Stalybridge) and disruptors – innovators that do things in a difference way (example Place First, Welsh Streets in Liverpool); building in a variety of locations and types of houses such as in town centres; and offering a range of new homes for a variety of occupiers including the over 55s.

Dr. Paul Jones, Director at Capital and Centric Developments explained how new challengers’ such as Capital and Centric are seeking to challenge the convention of housing. Following an outline of some of Capital and Centric’s exiting new schemes and the innovative programme Regeneration Brainery for young people, Paul presented their exciting concept for affordable, cool houses for people: the Nowhaus. The Nowhaus seeks to make best use of land with high density, low rise, well-designed spacious affordable homes. The concept goes further than bricks and mortar with facilities for the community such as car sharing and secure bike parking.

Danielle Gillespie, General Manager North West, Homes England explained that the clear remit of Homes England is to be a disruptor to accelerate the delivery of new homes through intervention and diversification of the market. Homes England are proposing to operationalise these targets and the agency sees itself as a master developer bringing forward large sites. Nicola Elsworth, Head of Public Sector Land in the North West at Homes England explained that the agency is intervening where there is the greatest housing need and where the market won’t go by acquiring sites, de-risking them and funding essential infrastructure to unlock the potential of these sites.

The key messages to come out of the panel discussion were:

• The issue of house building is not just down to land but the capacity to build and new ways of building need to be put into practice – Homes England are in discussion with the Government about the training and skills required.

• Start to see Homes England coming into play more in housing delivery.

• The housing crisis is not going to be solved by traditional housebuilders. There is a need for disruptors and innovators who will challenge the convention of housing and contribute to the ambitious delivery targets.

During the panel Q & A speakers were also asked to offer some career advice to others in the planning and development sector. Their tips were to just go for a promotion/ new job even if you don’t meet all the job criteria, push yourself, be bold, have a go and keep a record of work that you do.

We are extremely grateful for all of our speakers.

We look forward to seeing you at our forthcoming events a Walking Tour on 20th September and a Mock Inquiry/training day on 5th October.

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