Delivering Homes for Londoners

Thursday 11 June 2009

June’s housing series kicked off on Thursday with a full-day conference that focused on ‘Delivering Homes for Londoners’. In spite of the ongoing tube strike, around 150 architects, developers, housing professionals, policy makers and industry experts made their way to NLA to find out about the future of housing delivery in the capital.

Housing delivery in London is said to be reaching crisis point as the credit crunch takes its toll on the Mayor’s forecasts. However, the conference presented a positive outlook on the future of housing delivery in London, with presentations that covered new financial and investment models, the move towards zero-carbon homes, new housing models and a sneak preview of the Mayor's new Housing Design Guidelines.

With Kevin McCloud nobly walking to NLA from Paddington Station, Richard Blakeway, Director of Housing for the Mayor of London, and David Lunts, London Regional Director of the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA), stepped into the breach to introduce the conference by discussing the work that the Mayor of London and the HCA are doing to kick-start house building in London. This includes projects such as the empty homes programme, kick-start funding, a commitment to provision of affordable housing and the exploration of innovative investment models.

The HCA (re-titled by Kevin McCloud the “Housing Crunch Ambulance”) is supporting many projects in the capital, and its work was widely recognised throughout the day, with a number of speakers looking to the organisation to support innovative ideas, schemes and investment strategies. The ever-increasing importance of working in partnership with London boroughs, politicians and organisations such as the HCA was also highlighted by Alastair Baird, Managing Director of Barratt London who concluded: “it’s never been more important to talk to each other”.

And how will housing design need to respond to these changing times? Andrew Pratt (Grainger) suggested that investors will be looking to fund smaller high-quality schemes, while John Neale (Knight Frank) predicted a shift away from flats towards more terraced housing, and a return to traditional building models. New emerging housing models were also investigated; these included Pocket Living, which incorporates good design into small spaces (Paul Harbard, Pocket Living), and a new web-based model that can be built using a prefab structure with facades that can be adapted to its surroundings (Roger Zogolovitch, Solid Space Developments Ltd).

With the new Housing Design Guide shortly to be introduced by the LDA, a key message throughout the day was that design standards must be maintained, and as investors look to minimise risk, good design could not only help to secure funding (Annette Simpson, First Base), but as Kevin McCloud highlighted, could also help to make places more sustainable, bring communities together and create a sense of ownership.

Other NLA Housing events in June - ‘My London Vernacular’, Friday 26 June

Alison Brooks, Matthew Lloyd and Alex Lifschutz will be discussing the Mayor of London Boris Johnson’s call for a new London vernacular and what this means for the future of London’s housing stock.

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