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Councils building homes: what next?

October 1, 2020

Local authority direct delivery of housing is increasing. The planning white paper could boost activity, but by how much, where, by whom, with what support and partners, and employing what innovations in finance, planning and delivery? This event is part exploration of the trends, and part crowdfunding for new research.

Dr Janice Morphet and Dr Ben Clifford of the Bartlett School of Planning at University College London have produced definitive research in this field. Their reports in 2017 and 2019 identified the practical ways and innovations through which local authorities are delivering housing, the scale and range of delivery and case studies providing best practice.

These reports were covered widely in industry channels, presented to several government departments and many trade bodies, and on BBC R4 Today, BBC website, The Bottom Line and the Guardian.

Our panel will explore how themes uncovered during this research are playing out during Covid-19 and recovery, where further research might focus and what is required to make it happen. In particular we will focus on:

• Resources: how have council (and council development company) expertise grown as direct delivery has spread? Do councils have sufficient resources to ramp up delivery? If not, where can they be found and how might they be funded?
• Prevalence: council direct delivery is a maturing scene, but some councils are not involved. What are the reasons? How could more councils be encouraged to build homes? Is best practice being shared?
• Support: is direct delivery supported by the Government? Has the HRA Cap lifting had any noticeable effect? What further measures might government take to stimulate more homebuilding?
• Collaboration: how are councils coming together to aggregate demand to a level that enables new, more effective methods of construction? How is the Government drive to devolution creating unitary and combined authorities with delivery capabilities embedded?
• Research: what might UCL’s next research project usefully focus on? What resources are required to undertake the research? How would contributors benefit?


Dr Janice Morphet, Bartlett School of Planning at University College London
Cllr David Renard, leader of Swindon Council and chair of the LGA
Mike De’Ath, HTA Design
Alex Isted, Morgan Sindall

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