HGH Consulting


Planning for the Next Generation

Nick Belsten, hgh Executive Director, calls for 3 measures to address the on-going housing crisis.

During National Apprenticeship Week, it seems fitting to point out that the next generation of workers may develop their future careers, but are unlikely to be in a position to buy their own home.

At a recent Planning Futures event with the current Housing Minister, Lee Rowley (pictured, above left), in attendance, I spoke about what I feel needs to be changed to address the housing crisis. My words may have gained support from those in the room, but it’s clear that we’re barely scratching the surface. I’m sure that no one needed reminding that Rowley is the 16th housing Minister in 13 years, which is frankly shocking – and very bad for delivering crucial public policy to address a housing crisis. This crisis is not just having significant social implications for younger generations, but is a significant barrier to the sustained economic growth of this country.

A major proportion of our work at hgh is in residential housing – from large-scale strategic housing development to smaller, dense urban infill development, within an economic environment for housing that itself has been called ‘dysfunctional’. It’s evident that this issue is not being taken seriously, with little real comfort that significant change is on its way.

Indeed, the flurry of new legislation and policy in the form of LURA, changes to the NPPF and other commitments at the end of 2023 are no more than superficial changes that will do little to really tackle the housing crisis. For those of you that have read the latest NPPF, you will have seen that a whole paragraph (Para 124 for those that want to check) is used to promote the use of mansard roof extensions as a way to address housing shortage, yet no material change has been made to ‘reform’ outdated Green Belt policy.

I would therefore urge this and subsequent governments to stop using housing as a political game and start making a real commitment to deliver. This will require a number of key changes – none of which will come as anything new or that hasn’tbeen raised over the last 13+ years. Here are 3 I recommend:

1 A Dedicated Ministry

The starting point to this commitment would be to set up a separate Government Department – Ministry for Housing – that would give housing the significance that it deserves and provide some stability by ensuring we have a Secretary of State for Housing;

2 Fit for Purpose

We need to invest properly in ensuring we have a skilled and a well-resourced construction sector; and, a planning system that is equipped and resourced to support the delivery of homes;

3 Housing Delivery as a priority

Finally, in planning policy terms, housing delivery needs to be afforded ‘substantial’ weight where there is a demonstrable need – equal in importance to protecting the Green Belt and climate change.

The current situation may keep loyal voters happy, many of whom will never experience the implications of the housing crisis, but doing nothing is simply deferring and escalating the need to help others gain a foot on the housing – or career – ladder.



Nick Belsten, Executive Director, hgh Consulting
[email protected]

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