The Scottish Regeneration Referendum

To my shame, and despite an upbringing which involved spending time across the Tay in Fife, until last week I had never been to Dundee. This is particularly bad because Dundee has the look of one of the most successful regeneration, place making and city building projects in the UK in the last decade.

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The Economics of Diversifying Housing Supply

Call me sad but I spent part of the holidays reading some of the work of Ha Joon Chang, one of my favourite economists. His work on infant industry protection has enormous resonance with what Government is currently trying to do to encourage the emergence of a Custom Build and an institutionally funded new build private rented sector (PRS) in the UK. The Government’s objective is to diversify the supplier base of new housing in order to increase the pace of supply of new homes as the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) historically recommended.

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Innovating Placemaking

The culture in the UK real estate industry has always been deeply conservative and resistant to change. The number of people who will tell you why something can’t be done differently is massively greater than the number of people trying to find better ways to do things.

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Housing Policy Towers Over Belgravia

The free market cheer leaders for more housing are starting, rightly, to become more focussed in demanding more housing, not everywhere, but in the economically growing places like Bristol, Oxford, Cambridge, London (and recognising that the problems, or rather the solutions, are different in other parts of the country where environmentally sustainable brownfield development capacity is substantially more obvious).

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Spinning the Housing Debate

I took part in a proper debate, on green field development, organised by the real estate related professions in Leeds last week. I’m not an experienced debater and came away mainly with the realisation that it isn’t really surprising that life long politicians who do this stuff from school age become flexible with the truth. It is great practice for telling people what you think they want to hear in order to win votes rather than exposing truth by forensic interrogation.
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Delivering the Community Housing Dream

I came across a number of instances this week of Government’s inability to make its policies happen on the ground.

In the first example I did a quick straw poll of a large room full of local authority planners. I asked how many of them had read the Government’s guidance on collecting evidence for strategic housing market assessments in relation to custom build as they are required to do by the NPPF.

Not a single hand went up.

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Building Communities

I’ve experienced a number of inspirational communities this week and shared the huge challenges they face, and the overwhelmingly better outcomes they achieve, from leading the development of their own homes and neighbourhoods.

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Evolving Cities

One of the joys of holidays is catching up on those books that get squeezed out by working weeks. The Neighbourhood Project by David Sloan Wilson was Easter’s catch up. Despite my background as an ecologist with an interest in evolution this book ultimately failed to deliver on its appealing title and its author’s evolutionary credentials.

The book is founded on the author’s belief that pretty much everything in the world, including cities, can be explained, and managed, by the principles of evolution. There is much in this. This is not evolution as most of us understand it as genes that change and get selected over generations. It is evolution of culture and systems.
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Blog – A Mixed Economy of Housing Delivery?

It is finally becoming recognised more widely now by policymakers that the volume housebuilder model of sell one/build one holds back housing delivery particularly on large sites. The lack of delivery is much more about the pace at which homes are developed on large sites with planning permission than the availability of planning permissions.

This is why the focus of Labour’s pre Lyons housing policy enquiry announcements were around using compulsory purchase powers to accelerate housing delivery.
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Who Benefits from Subsidised Housing?

The annual shared ownership exhibition in London last weekend was completely rammed as the number of people priced out of the London housing bubble is growing quickly due to annual house price rises of 30% in some boroughs.

These poor people were forced to fill out individual paper and digital forms time after time as they struggled to negotiate the crowds of often ill-informed and ill equipped shared ownership sales agents representing each of the providers.

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