This roundtable brought together local authorities, housebuilders and consultants to ask how far proposals in the government’s white paper will go to fixing the housing market in Kent and Medway.
The roundtable provides a platform for people to outline their responses to the government’s consultation but also to explore the proposition in the White Paper that the public’s relationship with house building is (at least in part) responsible for slow delivery. Jane Briginshaw and Andy von Bradsky provided 10-minute talks to start the discussion, which was chaired by DSE’s Director, Chris Lamb.
We started by asking if it is true that we are failing to plan for new housing because of a fear of public opposition, and if the public are really so dissatisfied with new housing. To what extent are Neighbourhood Plans part of the solution? Do public perceptions need to change and should local people be involved in the design of new neighbourhoods and settlements.
The discussion highlighted the need to get more people behind new development, and to not allow the form of new development to be shaped solely by appeasing those opposed to it. We also need to investigate rethinking the planning application process, because both small and large planning applications absorb similar resources. We mustn’t forget the need for good designers, not just good plans. There was a recognition that consultation will only add value if done early, and in a meaningful way. There is an opportunity to better utilise Housing Associations as they have a long-term interest in their areas, but there is also scope for consortiums across the sectors to look beyond site boundaries to plan strategically.
It was also agreed that Kent needs to do more to promote local design quality. One possible step towards achieving increased delivery without sacrificing quality is to set up a Members forum, bringing together wider strategic thinking, and there is a role for Kent Design to work more proactively with members.
The full report can be found here.