THINK TANK CALLS FOR LOCAL GOVERNMENT TO TAKE NEW ROLE IN SHAPING HOUSING
Local government must take a leading role to generate solutions that blend new and old buildings to create sustainable mixed communities. This is the key message from the New Local Government Network in a new pamphlet ‘Where should housing policy go next?’ It argues that the key to addressing problems in housing policy rests with local authorities and how effectively they co-operate with resident and community groups and private construction firms. The pamphlet places communities at the heart of the planning process and recognises that efficient use of available land, whether for new development or regeneration will be critical to addressing current and future housing needs.
The pamphlet calls on local authorities to engage in ‘educative conversations’ with residents to agree design principles and to be active in stimulating development in line with a local strategic vision. Such strategic leadership will be critical to the realisation of local government’s new ‘place-shaping’ remit outlined in the recent White Paper, Strong and Prosperous Communities.
Giving people a greater say on the issues that affect their lives should be a priority for everyone involved in public policy. The pamphlet makes a strong case for a problem solving dialogue with residents, whose natural concern for their local environment can act as a positive pressure on development. Residents are right to demand that housing schemes benefit the existing community helping to create viable, desirable places to live for both current and future residents.
The current business model sees the developer exit the process as soon as building is complete, but there is a need for longer-term funding and management strategies in order to make communities work. It involves bringing together landowners, local authorities and residents in new partnership models with a strategic remit to promote sustainability.