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Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government at our forum

We are extremely pleased that the Lead for Development Corporations, Ben Grubb at the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government, will be speaking at our 18th September forum on the Greenwich Peninsula.

Ben is passionate about supporting local authorities in raising the quality of new housing settlements and funding additional consultancy as back up for council planning teams. He will also speak about the development of the UK's new garden communities. He joins a panel discussion with Dominic Eaton, Director at Stride Treglown Architects and Simon Pugh, Partner, at planning consultancy David Lock Associates, which is widely involved in master-planning housing for the Oxford MK Cambridge Arc.

The Minister of State for Housing announced in March plans for five new garden towns across England to create up to 64,000 much needed homes. These locally led new communities are receiving a share of £3.7 million of funding to progress specialist survey work and planning consultancy necessary for each new town's development.

The five successful bids are Hemel Garden Communities, Grazeley Garden Settlement, Easton Park Garden Community with North Uttlesford Garden Community and West of Braintree Garden Community, Tewkesbury Ashchurch Garden Community and Meecebrook in Staffordshire.

At our last round table hosted at UCL at Here East with Professor Yolande Barnes of the Bartlett, who is an advisor to the government commission producing the 'Building Beautiful, Building Better' report, the role and importance of community voices was discussed. She stated :

'Authenticity particularly in new housing has been missing. I am not just interested in individual buildings, it’s the beauty of places that matters. Geography is under-rated. Streets and spaces are important and there has to be some authenticity to create beauty. Our space syntax work at UCL is making sense of how people inter-act across spaces. (Beauty is a) productive place where human exchanges can take place. We can see now what has been wrong with single use housing…all of these developments fail the pint (of milk and beer) test! There is often a void of human interaction and that is ugly.

'The interim report outlines the problem but the next part of the report can look at solutions in a holistic way, and community involvement has a supremely important role. A global phenomenon is that real estate will be in future valued on a net income stream basis and not on immediate capital receipts. What will matter is rent, so building and estate management costs, energy costs and how productive the space is, will be very important to the long-term investors. Therefore making a place attractive and successful for the long term becomes important and how you respond to what your ‘customers’ – the people living and using the properties - want will be crucial.'

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