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‘Solving’ the housing crisis, and the knock-on effect on economic regeneration


The National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF), which sets out the government’s planning policies for England and how these are expected to be applied, outlines three objectives (economic, social and environmental) to work through.

Housing is very important for economic regeneration, but the stark reality is that not enough has been delivered in England over the long-term. For example, when we look back to 1968, 352,540 homes were built (and local authorities were key in that), yet in 2022 that number dropped to 178,011. Affordable housing completion is another issue. 59,356 houses were completed in 2021-22, compared to 74,530 in 1995-96.

Not enough houses is one thing, but building homes also supports more jobs. In fact, 298,000 jobs (based on data from the ONS Business Register and Employment Survey) were supported in Britain by the construction of domestic buildings in 2022 – over 500,000 if you include the supply chain – and those new homes have a knock-on effect on the economic, social and cultural fabric of the town or city they are based. That becomes a perpetual circle when you are seeking economic growth.

Earlier this year we published a briefing paper on The Ageing Population & Implications for Housing Need, which looked at the significant impact on many areas of life, including healthcare provision and the type of housing needed in areas. The Mayhew Review found that there is a significant shortage of retirement accommodation with access to care and the increasing under-occupation of existing housing stock is restricting the supply of family homes, pushing up housing prices about these colliding issues.

So what can we do about it? At last month’s IED Annual Conference ‘Grow for Good? Reappraising the UK's Growth Objectives’, I chaired a breakout session on Housing and Economic Regeneration with colleagues from Homes England, the government’s housing and regeneration agency, and Harworth Group plc, one of the leading land and property regeneration companies in the UK, owning and managing approximately 13,000 acres across 100 sites in the North of England and the Midlands.

Tamsin Hart-Jones, Head of Cities and Major Conurbations at Homes England, provided some context on their 2023-28 strategic plan and mission to drive regeneration and housing delivery to create high-quality homes and thriving places, and its five interconnected objectives:

  • To support the creation of vibrant successful places that people can be proud of, working with local leaders and other partners to deliver housing-led, mixed-use regeneration with a brownfield first approach.
  • To facilitate the creation of the homes people need, intervening where necessary to ensure places have enough homes of the right type and tenure.
  • To promote the creation of high-quality homes in well-designed places that reflect community priorities by taking an inclusive and long-term approach.
  • To build a housing and regeneration sector that works for everyone, driving diversification, partnership working, and innovation.
  • To enable sustainable homes and places, maximising their positive contribution to the natural environment and minimising their environmental impact. 

“Increasingly, our decisions and willingness to engage will be defined by the quality of what is being delivered as much as the quantity,” Tamsin said, before going on to highlight how social value per pound of investment is now one of their KPIs (using the definition of social value included in HM Treasury’s Green Book).

In his presentation, Harworth’s Director of Sustainability Peter Henry described economic regeneration as the reinvigoration of local and regional economies, and associated improvements in economic competitiveness and prosperity. That it is often linked with increased inward investment and relocation of businesses and households in areas of decline.

He said: “To regenerate something means to develop and improve it to make it more active, successful, or important, especially after a period when it has been getting worse. However, it is increasingly recognised that, in part, this uncertainty arises because of methodological challenges: it is often hard to assess the causal impact of policy interventions that are not randomly assigned, especially if evaluation has not been embedded into policy design.”

Peter went on to discuss examples where Harworth has created sustainable places where people want to live and work in Yorkshire, North West and the Midlands.

It was a pleasure to host Tamsin and Peter and enjoy a really good discussion. Since 2003, we have been solving planning and development problems for our clients successfully, and are really proud of that. We look forward to continuing to work with partners to offer full development lifecycle expertise bringing together innovative thinking to create beautiful places which enhances the built and natural environment.

Richard Cook is Senior Director – Economics at Pegasus Group, a Gold sponsor at the 2023 IED Annual Conference.