There is a housing crisis in the UK, and few places feel it as strongly as Bristol and the surrounding area. With the average property price over eight times the average salary, and space at a premium especially in the city centre, we invited Councillor Paul Smith, Cabinet Member for Housing, to share his insight, plans, and expertise with the construction and real estate development community in Bristol.
Paul opened by accepting that some hard targets have been set: to build 2000 homes by 2020, 800 of which must be affordable – and under planning regulations, affordable is defined as a property designed to rent, or purchase through shared ownership. The challenge, as Paul described it, is that: “The market doesn’t want affordable housing. Many developers aren’t willing to build it.”
The Council will use innovative methods of to do this, and Paul shared some of the strategies that are being used to restrict and to empower construction and development firms: from removing land from the market to encouraging taller building.
Perhaps most innovative of all is the announcement of active engagement in joint ventures with the Private Sector. Paul explained that the Council will be flexible in how it engages with the Private Sector, and will try to create synergies between Private Sector’s expertise and the Council’s access to property and policy tools. This will potentially be a fascinating area of development and details will become available in the coming months.
The Council are working with over 100 sites to build 3600 homes – meeting their target, if all goes to plan. Although the Private Sector is naturally resistant to intervention, the Council has succeeded in raising affordable housing up the agenda, and the market is beginning to meet the challenge by working with and for the affordable housing rally cry.
We completely packed out the Watershed this month with over 70 attendees, and we were glad to supply delicious food, opportunities to gain excellent networking connections, and the insight that Paul revealed. Our next Construction Breakfast is on March 7th as we welcome:
- Andrew Evans, Head of Construction and Engineering
- Paul Dennis, Senior Engineer for the Geo-environmental team at Arup and
- Ben St Quintin, Associate Surveyor at Alder King20
They will be exploring strategies for reclamation of brownfield sites. Make sure that you register for your free space now.