Independent think-tank Localis today rolled out an ambitious collection of imaginative and realistic ideas from itself and 20 leading housing experts outlining how a house-building-led recovery could drive economic and social renewal as the nation emerges from the Covid-19 lockdown.
The ideas and recommendations are included in an essay series called "Building for renewal: Kickstarting the C19 housing recovery" which explores how housing policy and planning should be oriented towards fostering jobs and growth, creating sustainable communities, and sustaining life and interacting with society during recovery.
Contributions to promote growth and development include proposals for investing in a new generation of social housing and pushing out investment programmes for house building councils; provision of key worker housing; risk management and tenancy stability and levelling of housing by greater access to the new Single Housing Infrastructure Fund.
Calls for better place-led investment include arguments for:
- Protecting social investment and new partnership models for investment;
- Extending Homes England 's role as housing catalyst with new powers over public sector surplus land and supporting the delivery of spatial plans;
- Supporting SMEs to accelerate growth and the role of garden settlements;
Using alternative ways of funding to inject new liquidity into the housing sector - including the use of SIPPs for investment in residential properties, greater deployment of patient resources for social investment and investment in pension funds.
Suggestions for using the housing agenda to support the vulnerable and engage better with society include:
- Innovative approaches to solving the problems of an ageing society;
- Reaching younger people and people of diverse background to help plan a green future;
Take advantage of digital engagement in building trust and embedding social value in growth.
The essays discussing the role of the planning system in building effective and healthy communities include the following arguments:
- Extending planning permissions for a further 12 months and having a pre-requisite application of government funding or planning permissions;
- Granting short-term planning freedoms, including the extension of approved development rights, as part of a long-term housing growth programme;
- Case for calling for strategic plans to be drawn up by infrastructure authorities to promote "healthy growth" and as a prerequisite for additional government funding;
- The digitalisation of the planning and willingness of local authorities to prepare proactively.
Cllr Paul Carter, chairman of the Localis C19 Housing Commission, said: “In Britain, we have a housing and construction industry to be proud of and the challenges it faces are very real. As a local government leader and senior councillor for many years, and with a lifelong career as a housebuilder, I have experienced at first hand significant economic recessions. This report presents an array of innovation, ideas and recommendations to kickstart the housebuilding recovery and get the national economy firing again on all cylinders.”
The Chief Executive of Localis, Jonathan Werran, said: “Given the gravity of the situation we find ourselves in, housing’s fundamental social and economic role and transformative capacity to drive change and growth assumes even greater significance.”
“What was already a radical and exciting agenda for housing in the aftermath of last December’s general election result now becomes a pivotal ‘win or lose’ moment for national renewal.”
“This paper sets out astute and creative thoughts from a broad range of individual experts and organisations as to how we might use the primacy of place to direct a return to housing growth.”
“Uniquely, by kickstarting housebuilding we can directly unlock recovery in ways that can not only overcome entrenched economic difficulties, but also renew our communities, helping society improve on what was before and genuinely build back better.”
We are an independent, cross-party, non-profit think tank founded up in 2001. Our work promotes neo-localist ideas through research, events and commentary, covering a range of local and national domestic policy issues.