PBC Today October 2016

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Since our Summer edition went live, the political landscape has changed beyond imagination. We voted for Brexit, and our political parties descended into chaos resulting in a change of the guard for the Tories. What all these changes will mean for our built environment will only be realised in time, but at the recent Conservative Party conference, under our new PM Teresa May, Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government Sajid Javid and Chancellor Philip Hammond set out plans for the Home Building Fund and the Accelerated Construction Scheme.

The Home Building Fund is set to use £3bn of previously announced funding to provide loans that will stimulate building projects. However, the loans will only be provided if there is ‘a clear route to obtaining a planning consent’. This means that the planning system, which can be the greatest obstacle, will still need to be negotiated.

This edition opens with a look at the planning system and possible reforms. In the final instalment of a two-part article from Dr Christian Hilber, Associate Professor of Economic Geography at the London School of Economics, he discusses the UK’s serious housing affordability crisis.

His first article presented an argument saying that the UK planning system has serious flaws and delivers benefits only at excessively high costs, mainly hurting the young. In this final part, however, he offers three proposals for reform and a glimmer of hope for the planning system.

Continuing on the theme of housing challenges, Gwyn Roberts, Homes and Communities Leader at BRE Global examines what can be done to meet the government’s aim of building a million homes during the current Parliament. Richard Ogden, Chairman of Buildoffsite, writes in this edition highlighting the fact that the UK is still failing to build anything like the number of homes we need. He argues for a modern, innovative approach to delivering the homes that the UK needs, and reflecting on the recent APPG inquiry into the quality and workmanship of new housing in England, Rico Wojtulewicz, Policy Advisor at the House Builders Association argues that more regulation won’t solve the housing crisis.

Turning to our digital future, our Smart Cities and BIM sections offer a vision of what could be, if we can grasp the opportunities available to us. John Fox, Managing Director of Lucy Zodion, discusses the research they commissioned on smart cities. It looks at the attitudes, progress and priorities of local government and their involvement in smart city ideas. Financing, unsurprisingly, was cited as a major barrier to delivery.

This edition also covers many other built environment topics, so please do check out our Building Control and Health and Safety sections for important messages.

As ever, putting this edition together has been a joy and I wish to thank all our contributors for their time and expertise.

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