The Housing Crisis – the great challenge of our time

14 Aug 19

It can offer a genuine solution to the housing crisis, one where positive collaboration, rather than negative blame passing is the defining feature.


As every politician and those in the development sector are keen to remind us, we are facing a housing crisis; on that there is much agreement. What no one agrees on are the reasons for that housing crisis and how to solve it. We hear many suggested causes, from laying the blame at the developer’s door, to blaming restrictive policy. Solutions are also often proffered, with an almost rallying call from politicians and sector experts alike. But with all the calls for radical action, are we overlooking a simple and obvious solution?

In order to deliver 300,000 new homes a year, surely the private and public sector need to join forces more often and to better effect. It is time to move away from the blame game and look to increased collaboration to start bridging the housing delivery gap. The planning system in the UK often functions as the private sector versus the public sector; this needs to change. This approach is preventing homes from being built for those in most need.

With Boris Johnson’s new Cabinet settling in, along with Sir Edward Lister appointed as Chief of Staff, the expectation is that there will be a raft of policy announcements to demonstrate the resolve to get things done, and with an eye on a potential general election of course. Yet when there is so much uncertainty elsewhere, surely now is the time to maintain the current system, rather than propose further interventions, which will inevitability create a state of flux. We need certainty in the development sector, from all perspectives: landowners; local communities; developers; local authorities; investors; builders and so forth.

The growth of local authority development companies demonstrates the ambition and eagerness of the public sector to make a positive contribution towards housing supply. Nonetheless local authority land is a finite resource and it will make a relatively modest, albeit crucial, contribution to housing supply. However, beyond their own land reserves local authorities can have a major influence on housing through proactive support and leadership which will have a lasting impact on the new communities that are created. This type of partnership would involve the local authority taking an active role in shaping the proposals from the outset which is a significant shift change from the current situation where the local authority often act solely as the decision maker.

Iceni is currently exploring this delivery model on a number of large scale, strategic projects. Such a model is designed to accelerate housing delivery whilst ensuring the legacy of these new communities has been influenced by all stakeholders from inception. We believe it can make a real difference, not only for our clients and landowners, but also for local communities and local authorities. It can offer a genuine solution to the housing crisis, one where positive collaboration, rather than negative blame passing is the defining feature. Best of all, no changes in legislation are required to do this.

Please do get in touch to discuss the approach to housing delivery further.

Leona Hannify Director,Planning