Exeter conference to address South West housing crisis

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Housing experts in the South West are joining forces at Sandy Park, Exeter on February 6 as they search for potential solutions to South West’s housing issues.

The National Housing Federation’s annual regional conference – ‘Building Neighbourhoods’ – will bring the debate to leaders from housing associations, councils, Local Enterprise Partnerships and private businesses among others.

Around 100 people are due to attend, to hear the latest thinking on how we can respond to the changing political agenda to increase the number of homes we’re building to benefit the wider economy. Research has shown that every new home built creates 1.5 jobs directly and up to four times as many in the wider supply chain.

Federation Chief Executive David Orr’s key note speech will set the scene, urging all of those involved in housing, planning, policy and decision making, to play their part in seizing opportunities while preparing for the future.

Localism, and its implications on house building, will be the subject of a lively panel discussion between Louise Dwelly (Strategic Affordable Housing Manager at Cornwall Council), Nick Hooper (Strategic Services Manager for Bristol City Council) and the National Housing Federation’s Director of Research and Futures, Stuart Ropke.

Planning strategists Alex Morton (Head of Housing, Planning and Urban Policy at Policy Exchange) and Alex Marsh (Professor of Public Planning at Bristol University) will then take the debate forward, discussing how future housing policy can address the growing crisis.

During the afternoon, discussions will turn to the future of social housing, its role in tackling welfare dependency, and the challenge of marrying housing associations’ social ethos with an increasingly commercial approach.

Catherine Brabner, South West lead manager for the National Housing Federation said: “With such a rich mix of housing leaders expected at this year’s event, we will have the right people joining the debate to have some real influence on the future of housing in the region.

“The main message from the conference will be that we desperately need to be building more homes across all sectors of the market, to address the existing housing crisis and help us keep pace with new households forming. Evidence shows doing so will also create jobs and bring added benefits to the wider economy.

“It’s not just about experts. Public support for building more homes is also crucial and we need to encourage their voices to be heard above those of the NIMBYs. Our campaign www.yestohomes.co.uk is encouraging more people to speak up in support of more new homes.”

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