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The right housing partnerships deliver a whole solution which is greater than the sum of its parts

– 3 min read

Chartered Architect, Scott Black is our Group Executive Director for development at Places for People.

In the second blog in his partnership series (you can read the first here), Scott explores how the UK’s housing shortage can be addressed through public sector partnerships.

I am a big believer in the power of partnerships. In my last blog, I explored how cross-sector collaboration, shared ideas, best practice, and deploying innovation can result in delivery at scale.

We are creating neighbourhoods and much-needed, affordable new homes at scale across the whole of the UK. In the past year, we’ve created 2,680 new homes, and we’re onsite with a further 1,982 new homes now – all of which need to be built sustainably and to increasingly high standards.

But there’s still much more that needs to be achieved and in this blog, I want to explore the role of the public sector and what Central Government, Government agencies and local councils can bring to the table when it comes to collaborations to increase delivery and drive quality and customer experience.

Public and private businesses supporting each other

There is much merit in developers collaborating with the public sector; a recent new study by London First explored just how local authorities can work in the capital and help deliver 66,000 new homes. The paper homed in on the importance of public-private relationships.

Such partnerships work for many reasons, including helping developer’s source new sites and risk reward sharing through innovative contractual structures to ensure increased private investment is possible to accelerate key outputs. Interestingly, a new study has been released by the Scottish Land Commission that makes the case for the establishment of a new public land agency north of the

boarder. The authors argue that such an agency would “have the power and resources to guarantee that a steady supply of development-ready sites is brought forward at the right time” and that it will allow developers to focus on the delivery of great new communities.

The public sector also has a key role in the planning processes - often with mixed results, but if we are to effectively increase delivery then local government must work to help through the planning processes, educating members so they understand the key issues and can make effective decisions within the necessary timescales and by properly resourcing officers to process and support along the way.

Partnerships in progress

At Places for People, we are fortunate to already have great relationships with the public sector. Homes England has selected us as a strategic partner to deliver more than 6,000 new homes as a part of our partnership over the next five to six years. We have already delivered thousands of new homes through this partnership, including a new development at Burchester Court in Grimsby, where we’ve completed 60 affordable housing apartments for people with a support need, aged 55+.

Another prime example is the regeneration of the Drovers Place development in Huntingdon, which delivered an affordable housing-led scheme that better meets the needs of the local community – not to mention other developments in Blackburn, Salford, Basingstoke, Cambridge, Peterborough and Congleton.

We are also collaborating with local authorities such as Runnymede in Surrey, where we’re transforming their land holdings into great new mixed-use communities.

Working with county and local authorities from the outset will allow us to help shape the masterplan to meet the needs of local people – just as we are doing at Gilston Park Estate in Harlow, creating up to 8,500 new homes across six villages, working with four local authorities within the Harlow and Gilston Garden Town, a key development in the Government’s Garden Towns and Villages programme.

Lessons for the future

The UK needs more sustainable, well designed and well-built homes. If we don’t meet this need and address the supply and demand imbalances then the gap between the ‘haves’ and the ‘have nots’ will increase, and the most disadvantaged in our society will be the worst affected. We must have effective collaboration across private and public organisations to seek consensus, bring forward opportunities, align interests, and co-invest to increase supply and address the housing shortage.

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