In just over a week ICE will publish its annual State of the Nation report, which this year focuses on how to better connect infrastructure and housing.
Produced by a multi-disciplinary steering group that was chaired by ICE Vice President Rachel Skinner, the report explores the opportunities for delivering housing and infrastructure together and in a more integrated way.
Outlining the challenge
There has been a gap between housing supply and demand for many years now and, as a result, the UK government plans to build 300,000 homes per year in England by the mid-2020s, with Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland having their own targets to reach as well.
While there is political consensus – and growing public support – for the need to build more homes, it’s not enough to consider them merely in terms of numbers. Housing and infrastructure, when not considered holistically, can put significant strain on existing networks and affect local communities.
There are also issues with securing enough investment to ensure infrastructure and housing can be delivered together well, while developments are also being built without due consideration of the future needs of society, including climate change.
What did we find from our evidence gathering?
Over the past months, the ICE policy team has been speaking to over 170 stakeholders, including many from our membership, about the problems and solutions to delivering housing and infrastructure in a more integrated way. As part of this, we held nine regional evidence-gathering sessions, speaking to stakeholders in Northern Ireland, Scotland, Wales and across the English regions.
We heard that infrastructure is primarily planned at a national level with limited alignment between budgets, funding streams, data and local and regional needs, often leading to poorly-planned housing developments with inadequate infrastructure provision.
A disjointed approach to phasing infrastructure and housing is exacerbated by utilities having limited scope to look outside of their asset management periods to forward-fund infrastructure, often leading to delays or sites becoming unviable.
There was consensus that the Housing Infrastructure Fund funding is working well, but improvements could be made to the process and methodology. Meanwhile, there is the potential to use existing mechanisms such as the Development Consent Order (DCO) process to better coordinate housing delivery with nationally significant infrastructure, business and commercial projects.
These and other core themes have since developed into 10 recommendations across the areas of planning, funding and financing, and future-proofing, which will improve the way in which infrastructure and housing is planned and delivered.
These 10 recommendations will be outlined in full when the report is published Tuesday, 10th September 2019.
Integration as the solution
The UK is facing crucial economic, social and environmental challenges both now and in the near future, including water provision; ensuring housing and infrastructure is delivered as close to carbon neutral as possible while preserving and protecting natural habitats; decarbonising transport and heat; improving flood resilience; and creating communities where people want to live, work and relax.
Integrated and strategic housing and infrastructure planning and delivery can be a major solution to those challenges, ensuring that future developments create resilient, sustainable communities that seize opportunities provided by new technology.
Ultimately, infrastructure must be considered much more strategically when it comes to housing instead of being seen as something that goes along as a consequence of development.
If you would like to find out more information about State of the Nation 2019: Connecting Infrastructure with Housing, please contact us.