In a new two-part blog series, Scott explores how the UK’s housing shortage can be improved through better partnerships and cross-sector collaboration. In the first article, he reviews the work that our Group is already doing to achieve this with private sector partnerships…
In the past year, we’ve created 2,680 new homes across the country in sustainable, innovative and attractive new neighbourhoods – places where people can live, work and play, with the supporting social and physical infrastructure to thrive into the future.
To be able to consistently deliver quality homes at scale I firmly believe that a key part of the solution lies in collaboration and partnerships.
Partnerships are nothing new for our sector; there are some great examples of partnership-led developments across the country, which have often delivered a much better solution than the sum of the individual parts.
At Places for People, we form partnerships to capitalise on the key strengths and aggregate financial, management, design and delivery expertise of industry-leading organisations to ensure the best outcomes for our new developments and communities. By sharing best practice with like-minded businesses who share our vision of creating great new communities and places, we can deliver much-needed new homes quicker and to higher standards than we might be able to achieve alone.
We have formal partnerships with a wide range of organisations including National Grid, Keepmoat, Urban Splash and Countryside, as well as collaborations with companies such as ilke Homes, which deliver both opportunities and modular homes to help increase delivery rates.
With a multi-tenure approach we can meet the whole of society’s housing needs - from affordable rent, first homes, shared ownership, through to elderly, student or open market for sale or rent homes - in balanced and socially sustainable places for the long term. By working together, we spread the market risk, enabling us to take on and do more across multiple new sites, and we can augment this further to share the delivery of risk and reward.
At our Brooklands development in Milton Keynes, we have brought in David Wilson Homes and Barratt Homes alongside us as partners, allowing us to prioritise essential infrastructure that will help residents to live here. Roads, playgrounds, two new primary schools and a high school have each anchored this place as a new neighbourhood. There’s vast public realm too, giving the community lots of green spaces. Most notable is The Ridge – a major infrastructure project providing 30 acres of public open space across two areas with six kilometres of pathways and 30,000 newly planted trees.
Modern Methods of Construction
Innovation is another area that can help in further scaling up development, and developers are increasingly adopting Modern Methods of Construction (MMC) to assist. MMC covers a broad range of delivery techniques, from true modular homes built entirely offsite to traditional timber-framed home solutions. We already have the capabilities - and the wider partnerships in place - to create homes using a wide range of these technologies, but to do it at scale, continued collaboration is key.
We’ve done this with House by Urban Splash, who helped us create hundreds of customisable homes using MMC at Port Loop in Birmingham and Smith’s Dock in North Shields; and we’ve just started work at Maple Fields in Bordon where, working with ilke Homes – the company with whom we signed the modular sector’s biggest ever deal in 2019 – we’re delivering 43 modular homes.
Access to land
Another issue faced by developers wanting to scale up, is finding land on which to build new homes – something that can again be helped through partnership arrangements.
Our collaboration with Countryside, who have themselves announced an intention to realign their business strategy to focus on partnerships, leverages their access to land while utilising our financial, delivery and management skills. A similar partnership was formalised in Spring 2021 with National Grid; they have the land, and we bring the housing skillsets with the planning and optimisation to deliver not only best value, but viable and sustainable solutions for their sites, whilst realising early land receipts.
There are many different types of landowners too. Interestingly, we’re working with legacy landowners who want to see sustainable and innovative new places created on their land – places like Golden Meade on the Rothschilds’ Waddesdon Estate in Buckinghamshire and – in partnership with the Duchy of Cornwall – Poundbury in Dorset and Duchy Field in Bletchingdon.
Partnerships for the future
No matter who the partner is, the location or the construction method, done right, partnerships help developers break through barriers and deliver beautifully designed and appealing new balanced communities at scale.
It is our mission moving forward to build on our existing collaborations, swiftly creating great places. If anyone wants to have a conversation about doing just that, I’d love to hear from you.