Building quality housing and a mixture of tenancies will help maintain the West London talent pool, a panel concluded at the Capital West London Growth Summit.
Ed Barnes, Interim Executive Director of Development, Catalyst Housing opened the debate.
“We need to deliver homes for West Londoners in West London,” he said. “We need more housing of all tenures. To help people live, work, stay within the boroughs. This is part of placemaking, where we build neighbourhoods that people aspire to live in. Not having enough housing of the right types is the biggest obstacle to economic growth in West London.”
James Bridgewood, Regional Programme Manager, One Public Estate agreed: “It’s not just about the homes, it’s also about amenity, health, well-being and making these things priorities alongside affordable homes.”
Nick Cuff, Land Director, Pocket Living emphasised the importance of looking at both the first-time buyers’ market and the private rented sector.
He said: “At Pocket Living we ensure that the homes are only for first-time buyers and cannot be rented out by investors, but the private rented sector is critical to the delivery of an appropriate number of homes, it provides a smoothing of the market at the times when the sales market might suffer dips from confidence issues.”
Dipa Joshi, Partner, Fletcher Priest Architects also highlighted the importance of quality design in the private rented sector: “PRS can produce a better-quality model in a shorter period of time.
“When you have institutionally funded rental buildings, they are just so much better across the board. People can’t afford to own homes anymore. A lot will never be in the housing market.”
The panel then focused on the need to ensure that quality and space standards are met, with the full housing cycle considered, not just millennials.
Barnes said: “Quality and space standards are a priority. We need to build through modern methods to deliver same quality, same size, faster.”
Cuff added: “We don’t want to create a new housing crisis by dealing with this one. Has PDR helped? Completions have shot up, but how liveable are they? Need the planning system to regulate, and need ways to deliver homes at different densities.”
Barnes continued: “We have single elderly people living in family accommodation – not that person’s fault, but we need to deliver suitable alternatives to downsize in to. Not the old model of retirement living with shared bathrooms, but new communities where people can live with like-minded others to free accommodation across all tenures.”
Brokenshire concluded: “Millennials grow up. If you want to keep them in your boroughs, they need family accommodation. We need to engineer inclusive and broad communities.”