The Government’s Housing White Paper (February 2017) offers several proposals which may help address the country’s long-term housing needs, but the paper falls disappointingly short in offering solutions to support the people most in need of housing right now. With 7,600 households* in desperate need of emergency accommodation today, urgent Government intervention is needed to help tackle the homelessness crisis.

“What we need now is quick and bold action that helps people in need of a decent home tomorrow not in ten years.”
Graeme Brown, Interim Chief Executive, Shelter

Planning for the right homes in the right places

Ambitious local plans don’t build houses. With a planning system that moves at a glacial pace, local plans are usually out of date the moment they are published. We need to return to a system of principles, not prescription. Local authorities must be responsive to local need and must act to procure innovative and flexible solutions.

Building homes faster

A ‘use it or lose it’ approach to land use won’t help deliver homes quickly. Interim use of land with pop-up buildings manufactured off site offers rapid delivery whilst working with development cycles and future redevelopment plans. This approach may become the essential tool for Local Authorities to cope with the financial implications of the Homelessness Reduction Bill 2016-17

Diversify the market

Local authorities need to collaborate with a variety of private developers that offer a range of different solutions to their individual needs. Current procurement practices deter developer involvement and are narrow in their focus; a dynamic approach to procurement is needed to enable more flexibility and opportunity for the innovative solutions that are required to add diversity to our built environment.

Helping people now

We welcome Bob Blackman’s Homelessness Reduction Bill and urge Local Authorities to recognise the value of interim land use and off site construction to deliver better outcomes for those in need at better value.

To ease the pressure we need a diversity of homes, housing and accommodation to rent at locally affordable prices and we need this now. It is unacceptable that on 30 June 2016 nearly 30% of households in temporary accommodation are moved to accommodation in another local authority district.

Interim land use and off site manufacturing can deliver hundreds of thousands of homes at affordable rents for those in most need.

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I believe a bolder and more radical vision is needed to address the crisis. We should be:

Ross Gilbert
Managing Director, QED Sustainable Urban Developments

* https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/577678/Table_784a_201609.xls