Innovative thinker | Adept leader calls for radical new housing policy



A radical new housing policy is needed to create the healthy and sustainable communities of the future, says Paula Hewitt.

The coronavirus pandemic and the lockdown restrictions that followed have shed light on the relationship between health and housing. As many people reconsider their way of living, working and socializing, civil engineers must play a key role in helping to shape a more concerted approach to how housing connects to a larger infrastructure for the benefit of communities. local.

Earlier this year, the Association of Directors of Environment, Economy, Planning and Transport (Adept) which represents senior executives of higher-level local authorities published its Position on housing policy.

Policy overhaul

He called for an overhaul of the national housing policy to reflect the post-Covid environment and fight against health, inequalities and climate change.

Adept President Paula Hewitt believes housing and developers need to look at places in a more holistic way.

“It’s about creating healthy places to live, and that ties into the UK’s goals for climate change and green infrastructure, but also for the country’s economic recovery,” she said.

“We saw a lot of negatives during Covid and it was a devastating time for people, but then there were positives around active travel and people reconnecting with their neighborhood and local environment. How do you make sure you don’t lose these positive points?

We need to look at how we get these broader health and environmental outcomes

“Where do we want to live in the future? How do we want to create the communities of tomorrow? There is already a lot of work in things like the 20 minute quarter [where most of a community’s needs are within a 20 minute walk or cycle ride], but how do they actually work? “

Hewitt says providing better, more sustainable homes means home builders need to move away from a production target approach and rather start thinking at an earlier stage about the quality of a proposed development.

“Every place is different and the challenges are different. Some local authorities have extremely limited areas in terms of flood zones or protected landscapes, etc. “, she says.

Unsustainable locations

“But I think there is a danger that if we just give everyone goals, people end up feeling pressured to build a lot of houses and probably not in sustainable places. In addition, we focus on the number of houses rather than the quality of the development.

Hewitt believes the industry needs to do more to recognize local places and needs, rather than building identical developments across the country. She would like real estate developers to engage earlier with communities and local councils so that the whole process is guided by a local perspective.

“It is extremely important to keep this local specificity,” she says.

“We need to look at how we get these broader health and environmental outcomes. It is crucial to start by understanding a local place, rather than taking a top-down approach to the needs of communities.

“We absolutely recognize that there is a huge need for more homes across the country. But let’s not just focus on numbers, let’s have quality venues. Places where people want to live.

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