Better housing for the 21st century: a report on housing by the AoU

A report by The Academy of Urbanism on how the problems of the English housing market may be solved by learning from successful places.

Download: Better Housing for the 21st Century (PDF 3mb)

The ability to house its people is a fundamental responsibility of any government. It is something that in the UK we have debated and argued over for more than a hundred years. Yet successive governments get it wrong.

The AoU believes that creating places in which people want to live, as this report hopes to show, involves far more than just constructing more homes. Rather, it is about building many more great neighbourhoods.

There is quite enough research to show what is wrong, and enough good examples both in the UK and abroad to provide the inspiration for a different approach. If we are to fix the broken housing market, and establish a new, more responsive and integrated approach, we must experiment with different ideas that have been shown to work.

Led by our research and understanding of places that work well, this report sets out what the AoU believes needs to be done to:

  1. Reform strategic planing
  2. Raise the standard of design
  3. Open up housing markets
  4. Make housing more affordable

By starting with spatial growth plans, using development corporations to mobilise land and infrastructure investment, raising private finance through bonds and various forms of trust, we can provide the serviced sites needed for a multiplicity of builders, catering for diverse markets.

The government should pilot these aspects, especially within the Northern Powerhouse and Oxford to Cambridge arc, to test these issues before rolling out new policies.

There should be action from government to shift planning as a profession away from development control towards a ‘city planning’ or ‘urbanist’ role that would actively guide and enable appropriate development in appropriate locations.

The Academy of Urbanism, through its network of leading urbanists and research on good practice, looks forward to working with the government and its agencies to repair the broken housing market and to introduce applicable strategies and mechanisms from exemplars both in the UK and abroad.

Report authors: Jon Rowland (Report Chair), Steven Bee, Esther Caplin, Dr Nicholas Falk, Stephen Gallagher, David Rudlin, Janet Sutherland, Stuart Turner.

For more information: please contact Stephen Gallagher, Director of Engagement, on or 00 44 (0)7840 436 844.

Featured image: Marmalade Lane, Cambridge, developed by TOWN.

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