Developers and the public sector need to work together to deliver the housing needed in West London, was the main message from the ‘delivering housing’ panel at the Capital West London Growth Summit, chaired by Jackie Sadek, UK Regeneration.
Cllr Graham Henson, Leader, London Borough of Harrow explained the challenges the boroughs have to reach their housing targets, while maintaining the sense of community and space that attracts residents to the area: “It seems the only place to go now is up but that can be difficult to get residents on board with so we need to ensure that if we do build high that it is designed well and not an eye sore. We are meeting our target of 1,400 homes a year at the moment but we are running out of land so we do need to be innovative.”
Robbie Erbmann, Head of Housing Strategy, TfL discussed its strategy to deliver 6,000 homes in West London by March 2021 by working in partnership with developers, especially on the smaller sites, helping to maximise the housing it can deliver and also looking at the construction models, with a focus on modular construction where possible in order to speed up the delivery.
Rachel Ferguson, Head of Design and Planning, L&Q also stressed the importance of modular construction in its future delivery model: “We are now trying to have elements of MMC (modern methods of construction) in our designs as it can speed up our programme. Our aim is in 2028 to have everything built in modular, but that is easier at lower density, we are on a learning curve with each project.”
Arshad Bhatti, CEO, Apex Airspace highlighted that modular construction was similarly part of the his company strategy to help solve the housing crisis but its main focus was on building higher and on top of existing buildings, with airspace not having a value there is more of a focus on how Councils and the Government want to approach it. The company have been working on a number of projects and its schemes have allowed them to deliver 100% affordable housing for social rent.
Rosa Payne, Head of Partnerships at Network Homes focussed on their project in Northwick Park to deliver 1,600 homes and the importance of working with the public land owners on the former hospital site in order to move the site forward and deliver affordable housing: “We didn’t go through a strict process, we worked together at pace and have been able to maximise on affordable housing. The One Public Estate programme has been fantastic it has allowed collaboration between parties and ensured transparency so with the negotiations everyone could achieve the best outcome.”
James Bridgewood, Regional Programme Manager, One Public Estate discussed the size of the challenge the boroughs face: “The Government has a UK target of 160,000 homes by 2020. We have to learn with our partners and targets need to be driven locally. We have to increase density, but it needs to be done with good quality urban design.” He stressed the importance of considering not just affordability but the wider social value of a site in order to make it attractive to developers; “We are committed to better understanding not only just the typical market value of a site but what is the wider economic regeneration and social value, that is not easy as you are trying to quantify something that isn’t quantifiable but with public sector land owners there is an appetite for that.”