Richard Blakeway is joining Policy Exchange as Chief Housing Advisor, and was Deputy Mayor for Housing, Land and Property at the Greater London Authority.
There is a real sense of momentum behind solving the UK’s housing crisis. The Government has put housing at the top of its domestic agenda.
It has produced a well-received white paper, the first comprehensive analysis by government for some time examining why we haven’t built enough homes and proposing policies to do so. There is a constructive dialogue between the Mayor of London, where the supply crisis is most acute, and DCLG Ministers.
The industry itself is starting to address thorny issues holding back supply, such as skills and build methods; some housing associations are demonstrating the considerable contribution they can make to supply; and new entrants are starting to get a foothold in the market.
Above all, it feels as if many parts of the system are, by and large, starting to move in the same direction.
Yet the challenge still remains colossal. Building at the rate required hasn’t been seen for generations and that’s before we get into what should be built and where. The second-hand market is showing signs of strain. And whilst the fundamentals remain the same, the impact of Brexit – both opportunities and challenges – is yet to be seen.
That’s why I’m delighted to be helping Policy Exchange lead a programme which will challenge what more needs to be done on housing.
This programme will be both practical and pragmatic. It will seek to bring together people with experience and fresh ideas to find solutions. It will explore the experiences of other countries and cities which face similar housing problems to the UK – a fitting contribution given the increasingly global outlook Britain will be taking.
We will champion great design and style to shape and enhance our built environment – also a vital prerequisite to increasing the acceptability of new housing developments.
There are many questions the sector is asking which are still looking for answers. How can we further strengthen the link between design and community consent? How can housing products better meet demographic change? What’s the future of procurement after Brexit?
Over the coming months and years, Policy Exchange will explore these questions – some familiar, some new – through workshops, reports, and debates to find solutions, help build consensus, and contribute to policy development now and into the next decade.