PBA hosts Gavin Barwell, Minister of State for Housing and Planning, and Minister for London

PBA hosts Gavin Barwell, Minister of State for Housing and Planning, and Minister for London

22 December 2016

LONDON - PBA was delighted to host Gavin Barwell, Minister of State for Housing and Planning at the Enterprise Forum meeting on 12th December at the Institution of Civil Engineers.

In his introduction, Keith Mitchell, Chairman of PBA, said that the challenge of meeting the national housing need was one of the major issues facing government and required a multi-faceted approach across a range of policy considerations and delivery agencies.

Keith suggested that the consideration of infrastructure as an enabler to housing development, as seen in the National Infrastructure Commissions report on the Oxford to Cambridge corridor, is hopefully a pre-cursor to an enlightened approach being adopted in the National Needs Assessment.

He commented: "The fact that the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement had an emphasis on regional devolution and investment to enable infrastructure, suggests that the government is continuing to recognise the importance of planning for housing and infrastructure in an integrated way."

However, the delivery of more housing will require action across a wider range of issues. Points of dicussion included a more proactive delivery role for the public sector, the need for further investment to stimulate the market in modern means of construction, more support for a diverse range of tenures, and incentives to ensure that local planning acts make sites available in a more timely and positive way. The upcoming review of recommendations from the Local Plan Expert Group, and CIL Review Group are awaited with great interest by the industry, as are the wider proposals due to be contained in the housing white paper next year.

The Minister spoke about the range of issues under consideration by government in order to deliver more housing, and answered a number of questions from the development and infrastructure stakeholders in attendance. Three key issues were explored:

  • Bringing sites forward for housing;
  • Timeliness of delivery from planning permission to start on site; and
  • Opening up the housing market to smaller developers, and new models of delivery.

The challenge of creating a new politics around quality housing developments, and the need to provide policy stability which enables the market to deliver, were also points of discussion. However, it was recognised that these are going to be hard to achieve if the policy and market conditions are going to be created to transform the delivery of housing.