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Infrastructure is 'key' to driving housing growth, say industry leaders

22 November 2019

The lecture considered ICE’s State of the Nation 2019 report on infrastructure and housing from a regional perspective.

Infrastructure is 'key' to driving housing growth, say industry leaders

Unlocking housing growth in London relies on significant investment in strategic infrastructure, experts argued at a recent ICE London lecture entitled Connecting Infrastructure with Housing: a London perspective.

The event saw four panellists present their ideas on how the delivery of housing and infrastructure could be better integrated in London, following on from the publication of ICE’s 2019 State of the Nation report in September, which considered this topic from a national perspective.

More than 200 people attended the lecture, held at ICE’s Westminster headquarters on 11 November and chaired by Chris Richards, Head of Policy and Public Affairs at ICE.

A placemaking approach

Demonstrating the local impact, Sharon Strutt, Head of Regeneration at London Borough of Redbridge, highlighted that investing in areas such as road infrastructure would unlock 1,300
additional homes in the borough.

Chris Moores, Head of Planning at Transport for London and Crossrail 2, underlined transport specifically as a crucial factor for housing, citing the Metropolitan Line as an example of a route which has successfully triggered growth in its surrounding areas.

Another speaker, Ian Lindsay, Senior Partner at aspireCP, argued that the most value in terms of placemaking is delivered when there's effective collaboration between the transport sector and developers, using Crossrail as an example of positive practice.

Victoria Hills, Chief Executive of the Royal Town Planning Institute, spoke about the need for partnership across the entire built environment, stressing the importance of an environment
that allows for strategic planning.

How to deal with uncertainty

The Q&A session generated further discussion, including questions around how to navigate
uncertainty, how we can continue to make the case for London given the competitive nature of funding across the country, and what the aim should be with reference to housing density.

Speakers pointed to the importance of locking in infrastructure funding to alleviate lack of certainty, the need for flexibility and an open-minded approach that acknowledges the importance of delivering growth in London as well as other parts of the country, and the benefits of housing density as a means of driving the quality of places, in addition to well-functioning transport systems.

Overall, there was a clear consensus that undertaking a placemaking approach and improving connectivity are both necessary components to meeting the capital’s housing demand.

The lecture was ICE London’s fourth of the year as part of its 2019 Knowledge Programme, with previous events focusing on rail infrastructure, aviation and air quality.

The theme of next year’s programme will be ‘The future of the built environment’.

The first lecture as part of this series, entitled ‘How will technological advances impact London’s infrastructure?’ will be held on 20 January.

  • Edie Fairservice, External Relations Executive