Over the coming weeks we will be bringing you a selection of news and views from the speakers to give you a taster of what to expect on the day. 

Please click on the links below to see the thoughts of the speaker:

Tony Pidgley, Chairman, The Berkeley Group

1) How has the housing landscape evolved over the last years?

Let me start with what hasn’t changed. Housing is still one of the most important decisions most of us will make. Our pride in our own front door, and the sanctuary we return to at the end of busy day are hugely emotive and personal subjects which have a real impact on our wellbeing. Sentiment in the housing market is one of the key drivers behind the country’s “feel-good” factor.
Housing is of course far more complex than it used to be when I started in the business some 50 years ago, and the planning process has become bureaucratic and costly. Typically our planning applications are made up of dozens of boxes of reports from expert consultants. We then pay for the Council to employ consultants to review them, as well as the planning officer to manage the process, and all this takes months if not years. These delays are acutely felt by us as a housebuilder wanting to get on and deliver the much-needed new homes, but even more so by the communities crying out for them. What this means is that, now more than ever, we as regenerators need to work in a spirit of partnership and collaboration much more with our colleagues in the planning departments – this is fundamental to house-building if we are to achieve our shared aims of delivering additional homes and homes which are affordable.
The planning system has been in a process of constant reform with five planning acts since 2004, and another on the way. It is hard for us to keep up, let alone the planning authorities! This has in part contributed to the reduction in small builders who struggle with the bureaucracy and complexity to deliver even a few homes. There are just 3,000 small builders now compared with 12,000 in the late 1980s. These owner-driver companies are a crucial part of the mix and we won’t solve the housing crisis without them.
Housing design has also greatly improved in the past few years, along with an approach of creating places and not just delivering homes. I think everyone pays greater attention to the quality of place being delivered including the public realm and mix of uses. Of course Berkeley Group does it best! The secret lies in listening to the needs of the local communities, an almost obsessive attention to detail and quality, and in never forgetting that every house you build is going to be someone’s home.

2) In your opinion, what will be the short term and longer term impact of the leave vote on planning for housing?

I think it is hard to speculate at such an early stage. Many hope that leaving the EU will see the end of Environmental Impact Assessments and the OJEU process, but they could well just be replaced with something else.
The fundamentals of housebuilding remain the same. We are still not building enough homes; in London only half what is needed is delivered. We need additionality and affordability.
When it comes to delivering housing, you have to focus on your customers and the community. I have always believed in putting people and quality first; leaving the EU doesn’t change that one bit.
The area of greatest concern is the impact on our workforce. We have a real skills crisis and a lot of the people working on our sites come from outside the UK. We need to keep Britain open to skilled workers and we need to invest heavily in local labour.

3) What is the best piece of advice you have received during your career?

I learnt very early about the importance of manners, people and relationships.
You need a strong work ethic, plenty of common sense, and you have to treat people as individuals. Respect them. Challenge them. And if they do a good job, thank them. Don’t hide behind formulas and policies.
There’s also no substitute for experience. I’ve done nearly all the jobs in my business – from the drainage to the cash flows. Degrees and training can help but university degrees are actually not the answer for everyone. Setting up academies and apprenticeships are vital. We’ve got to show young people leaving school that construction is a good career, well paid and challenging. Berkeley Group has just committed to have 1,500 people in training by 2018. Ultimately, you have to learn about human behaviour. The real degree you need is in building relationships.

4) What will be the key points of your address at Planning For Housing?

I am going to talk about ways that planning and placemaking can be a force for good in society. Berkeley Group supported 26,000 jobs and contributed £2.1bn to UK GDP in 2015, whilst our Foundation has committed nearly £8m to good causes in the last 5 years.
Not only is housebuilding a force for good, it is a necessity. We need additionality and affordability. From all the research that we have undertaken it's all about affordability - People young and old simply wish to get on the housing ladder - size and regulation are not what it is about, but quality is always important.
I would like to debate how we create a genuine spirit of partnership, with planners really driving delivery. Not acting as regulators, but as the people who make good development happen.
So the key themes are about flexibility, innovation, and collaboration. I also think it is time for stability in the planning system with no more reforms so we can focus all energy on the housing challenge. Constant change doesn’t help build more homes.
We must build homes that are affordable, and take out bureaucracy. In other words once a planning permission is given to a builder with a proven reputation of delivery he should be able to build without having the necessity of going through 6 to 12 months of delays with regards to s106 and building regulations.
Lastly, if I’m feeling the need to be a bit controversial I will call for SDLT to be halved!

Philip Barnes FRTPI, FRICS. Group Land and Planning Director, Barratt Developments Plc

1) How has the housing landscape evolved over the last years?

NPPF has been a huge change establishing a presumption in favour of sustainable development and driving up the number of units consented. The challenge now is to develop new partnerships and means of delivery to similarly increase the number of completed units. Housebuilders, Councils and housing Associations working together.

2) In your opinion, what will be the short term and longer term impact of the leave vote on planning for housing?

It is too early to say. At Barratt customer sentiment is critical to our success. Whilst the signs are currently positive we feel we need a few more months of economic and market data before we can draw any firm conclusions on the longer term impact.

3) What is the best piece of advice you have received during your career?

Only employe people who are more talented and likely to have different ideas to yourself.

4) What will be the key points of your presentation at Planning For Housing?

I will be looking at Starter Homes from a housebuilder perspective. What has happened so far and what could be the future of Starter Homes in a post Brexit world?

5) What session, other than your own, are you most looking forward to at Planning For Housing?

For Barratt hearing first hand the planning and delivery priorities for the new Government administration will be valuable.

Anna Rose, Director, Planning and Transport, Milton Keynes Council

1) How has the housing landscape evolved over the last years?

Housing has moved from being an integral part of building communities to being the singularly most important part of the planning system. Plans at all levels seek to address housing provision ahead of all other matters; the result of this is conflict between Councils and communities. Unfortunately this focus on one single type of development has not lead to an increased supply and in most areas the angst that this type of planning creates leads only to delay and an increase in demand.
Out of this position comes a new way of working with the planning system. There is an ability to be creative and work across known boundaries to design our own locally defined futures. We are, I believe, on the verge of some very exciting plans which create far more than just housing. The policy vacuum has been useful in allowing many of us to find our own ways of delivering places. Effectively we have moved from crisis to creativity.

2) If you had one recommendation for local areas looking to produce a neighbourhood plan today, what would it be?

Think about what you would like your neighbourhood to look like in 20 years’ time and stick to that vision as you create your plan.

3) What is the best piece of advice you have received during your career?

First impressions count. Relax, smile and be engaging.

4) What will be the key points of your presentation at Planning for Housing?

The ingredients of a good Neighbourhood Plan using Newport Pagnell as an example.

We are delighted to announce that
Gavin Barwell MP, Minister of State for Housing and Planning and Minister for London

will be giving the Opening Keynote Addess


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