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The Housing and Place Delivery Forum: our common goal and future priorities

In this blog, Dr Gareth James provides an introduction to the Housing and Place Delivery Forum (HPDF), which is a knowledge exchange initiative by CaCHE and our partners in Scotland.

In May 2019, in a pre-Covid world, I chaired a roundtable discussion which was co-organised with members of the CaCHE (Scotland) Knowledge Exchange Hub and hosted by The Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI). The discussion centred on opportunities arising from the changes introduced to the then Planning (Scotland) Bill, and how new approaches to planning could help to maximise the provision of quality housing in Scotland.

The event resulted in a series of CaCHE blogs summarising the issues discussed, including:

The group, which we have come to call the Housing and Place Delivery Forum (HPDF), agreed to meet again to explore how a collaborative approach to housing delivery could be facilitated in future. This blog is an update on what’s happened since and our plans for the future.

Following our initial roundtable, the group worked to expand its membership which now includes representatives from ALACHO; Architecture + Design Scotland; Built Environment Forum Scotland; CALA Group; CCG (Scotland) Ltd; Chartered Institute of Housing Scotland; ClydePlan SDPA; Heads of Planning Scotland; Homes for Scotland; Improvement Service; Planning Aid Scotland; RICS Scotland; RTPI Scotland; Scottish Federation of Housing Associations; Scottish Futures Trust; Scottish Land Commission; and Scottish Property Federation. The HPDF met again in October and November 2019 to undertake a two-stage process in order to progress: 1) development of the HPDF itself; and 2) the HPDF’s agenda and work with its wider key stakeholders. Both workshops were facilitated by Nick Wright (but not the same Nick Wright that planning audiences in Scotland will know!).

In the October workshop, Nick, who is a qualified and experienced psychological coach, trainer and organisation development (OD) consultant, worked with the HPDF to:

  • develop its purpose, goals, priorities and parameters
  • identify, discuss and address ‘blind spots’ (i.e. limiting or biasing assumptions) and ‘hot spots’ (i.e. issues that could create relational tensions or conflict within the team); and,
  • clarify and agree behaviours and ways of working that would inspire and enable the HPDF to work together, effectively.

This team-building and OD approach is a crucial but often missing ingredient in this kind of knowledge exchange initiative, where there is a diverse range of stakeholder perspectives, relationships and interests. The output from this workshop is summarised in the image below:

Having established its purpose and ways of working, the HPDF met again in November 2019 with a wider group of stakeholders, including various local authority planners, planning consultants, architects, housebuilders, land promoters, urban designers, and other related professions, to participate in a four-part appreciative inquiry, during which – in relation to its focus and parameters – members and stakeholders discussed and identified:

  • What’s going well that we’d like to hold onto and build on?
  • What would we like things to be more like, more of the time?
  • What would need to happen, practically, for that to happen?
  • What should be the main priorities for the HPDF over the next 6 to 12 months?

Discussion around the first question resulted in a list of “good practice” examples of new housing delivery and placemaking in Scotland, the UK, Europe and elsewhere, and generated some rich data on key outcomes and factors underpinning success. One of the key points that I took away from the discussion was that where the public sector takes a proactive approach to driving development (e.g. through upfront investment in land assembly and infrastructure), and works collaboratively to make things happen, this can deliver good results – but that this does not always happen. Participants were all aware of good practice examples in Scotland, but felt that these were often down to individual planning officers rather than a product of the system.

The workshop addressed the other three questions in sequential sessions over the course of the day which resulted in a list of key priority issues for the HPDF to explore. The top five priority issues were:

  • The potential role that a national agency, operating at the regional level, might play in funding and coordinating the delivery of infrastructure and enabling works for housing development;
  • A need to refocus the role of politics in planning;
  • Developing an ambition for planning and empowering planners to champion good places;
  • Empowering communities and harnessing their energy to enable people to influence the development of their own neighbourhoods; and,
  • Learning from good practice approaches to land allocation and assembly for the housing and placemaking.

Over the past year, the HDPF has worked together to explore these issues. Our progress has been slower than initially anticipated, in large part due to the disruption caused by the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, but we have now co-produced our first major output, a report entitled ‘More homes and better places: lessons from policy and practice in Scotland’. The report, which addresses a number of the key issues listed above has been published jointly with the Scottish Land Commission. This blog summarises the key findings.

Dr Gareth James is Knowledge Exchange Associate with the UK Collaborative Centre for Housing Evidence. 

Photo reproduced with permission of Stewart Stevenson Architects

 
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Date: October 7, 2020 3:57 pm

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