Endorsements for Strong Suburbs, inspired by HTA's Supurbia
Experience shows that quality planning decisions depend on quality community engagement and people having a direct say in the future of their streets and open spaces. This has been at the heart of the success of neighbourhood planning over the last decade and this report is a timely reminder of the potential to extend community rights even further. A planning system with local communities driving decisions can do much more to improve the quality of new building in our towns and cities and protect the countryside and green spaces.
Tony Burton, community campaigner
Britain needs more housing, but residents also need to have a say about new buildings in their area. This report by Policy Exchange shows that by giving residents on the ground more control, we can create more beautiful and sustainable streets.
Bob Blackman MP
Progressives should look at these proposals with interest. They have the potential to make a difference for the millions of people currently struggling under the high cost of housing; and to build a broad political coalition in order to do so.
Shreya Nanda, Economist at IPPR Centre for Social Justice
This is a brilliant report, which I wholeheartedly support. I believe these proposals could revolutionise the way we build homes in this country, strengthening high streets, enhancing neighbourhoods and celebrating local character. Moreover, though the proposals represent the most radical and innovative rethinking of our planning system for generations, they are embedded in sound cultural and historic precedents that embody some of Britain’s most successful urban traditions. I hope to see them included in the upcoming Planning Bill.
Ike Ijeh, Architecture Editor of Building
Ensuring that development benefits existing communities is often seen as an afterthought, to be reduced as much as possible, rather than something that needs to be embedded right from the start of the process. Street Votes could be an alternative to this, by giving locals control over what development they see both in terms of style and in terms of type.
David Simmonds MP
This is a great piece of research with an elegant set of policies.
Will Tanner, Onward
Where we live has a measurable effect on our physical and mental health: on how much we walk, on how many neighbours we know or on how tense we feel on the quotidian journey to work or school. Design affects us from the air we breathe to our ultimate sense of purpose and wellbeing. And an insufficient supply of homes is having a catastrophic effect on generational prosperity and opportunity. Strong Suburbs is a seminal report and a very important part of the movement to increase not just the supply of new homes by changing the nature of planning regulation but also to re-imagine how we think about the humanity, popularity and beauty of the streets and squares in which we live.
Nicholas Boys Smith, Create Streets
This excellent report shows how we can win the support of more existing communities for new homes in their neighbourhoods by giving them control over the form of development and a share in its benefits. It offers a way of building much-needed homes, while simultaneously making our suburbs into better, more sustainable and more liveable places.
Matthew Lloyd, of Matthew Lloyd Architects LLP
A compelling answer to the question of how you build more homes in London while keeping green belt fans and skyscraper opponents happy
Dan Wilson Craw, Generation Rent
These proposals create a valuable extra ‘fast lane’ on the road to turning our towns and cities back into beautiful, green, human-scale places to live, work and visit. They mean neighbours don’t have to wait for their local Council to introduce the Government’s powerful and welcome new proposals for Building Up Not Out through permitted development rights that use locally-approved ‘pattern book’ design codes. If their local Council is dragging its feet, they can organise a local response for their street instead. It gives local residents more control over how their neighbourhoods look, feel and function, and will mean a huge jolt of energy and adrenaline to the speed and scale of the transformation that we all know is needed.
John Penrose MP
The public wants architecture and design to reflect their values and how people live their lives – much of what is built today is imposed by people who will not be living there. Buildings are often ugly, anonymous, and fail to reflect local building culture and styles, yet this is what people want. The first step is to return control over design to local people, to enable building in ways they find beautiful. This proposal could give them that control, as part of the much-needed agenda to restore beauty and popularity to modern development.
Sir Bernard Jenkin MP
Jean-Claude Juncker once famously quipped: “We all know what to do, we just don’t know how to get re-elected once we have done it.” He was not talking about British housing policy, but he might just as well have been. Politicians of all stripes know that we need to build a lot more housing, which is why they talk about it at every opportunity. But they also know that following up on their words with deeds would be electoral suicide, given the fierce resistance that housebuilding usually provokes. The paper “Strong Suburbs” by Samuel Hughes and Ben Southwood offers exactly the kind of innovative policy thinking that could lead us out of this dilemma, by turning housing development into a win-win situation. It is an intriguing mix of radicalism and pragmatism, which has the potential to reconcile the economically necessary with the politically feasible.
Dr Kristian Niemietz, Head of Political Economy, Institute of Economic Affairs
I am delighted to see one of the key recommendations of Roger Scruton’s Building Better, Building Beautiful Commission developed with such care and detail. I praise, in particular, the way in which this document proposes we should create badly needed homes in ways that conserve what is good and empower those who are local.
Fr Andrew Pinsent, University of Oxford, MA DPhil PhB STB PhL PhD FRSA
If London is to have any chance of building the homes it needs then suburban densification must be one of the many steps that are taken to increase housing supply. This report is a welcome contribution to the debate about how our suburbs can maintain their character while also providing more homes.
Jonathan Seager, Executive Director of Place at London First
Suburban intensification has great promise as a way of creating many new homes at the same time as helping to revive town centres in the sometimes under-valued outer areas of our cities. This report outlines a fascinating potential way of realising this opportunity by giving power to local neighbourhoods.
Tony Travers, Professor in the School of Public Policy at LSE
This idea creates a win-win-win situation across high demand areas. Allowing less attractive, low density streets in places like London, Oxford and Cambridge to voluntarily convert into high quality beautiful terraced homes benefits existing residents, reduces housing pressure overall, and will make these areas more desirable and more affordable.
Alex Morton, Centre for Policy Studies
Spatial questions – town planning, zoning, housebuilding and so on – are some of the most difficult questions that politics deals with. Any decisions governments make about where homes and infrastructure should be built, or where people should live, involve difficult tradeoffs and a dizzying array of spillovers and externalities. This paper is rare in that it addresses that challenge head on, and comes up with a solution for building hundreds of thousands of new homes that just might work.
Tyler Cowen, Professor of Economics at George Mason University
Suburban intensification is a crucial means of creating new homes in the places they are most needed, at the same time as making our cities more liveable and more sustainable. This fascinating report outlines a way this could happen under the leadership of local communities.
Peter Murray, Curator-in-Chief of New London Architecture, Mayor’s Design Advocate, Chairman of the London Society
Endorsements for the original launch
Policy Exchange has led the debate on empowering communities, winning support for development, and creating beautiful popular homes. The Government supports enabling communities to set their own rules for what developments in their area should look like, ensuring that they reflect and enhance their surroundings and preserve our cherished local heritage, and Policy Exchange is continuing this vital conversation.
Rt Hon Robert Jenrick, Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government
This is an excellent proposal, which could make an immense contribution to resolving the housing shortage. When land values rose during the Georgian era, they built up, bequeathing us many of our most prized streets. This powerful and sophisticated proposal offers a way of doing this again, letting us create beautiful streets that we treasure for centuries.
Christopher Boyle QC, Landmark Chambers and Georgian Group
By devolving planning powers to the street level, the proposals have the potential to resolve the tension between residents’ desire to protect their immediate environment and landowners’ desire to realise development opportunities, to the benefit of all.
Neil Cameron QC, Landmark Chambers
The suburbs of Britain’s towns and cities have immense potential to deliver much-needed homes in a sustainable and attractive way, yet too often they have fallen behind in their duty to help in providing homes for all who need them. Presented with the tools that this document proposes, communities will be able to make a meaningful contribution to housing delivery whilst also giving them greater agency in the decision-making process – as well as an opportunity to shape their neighbourhoods to suit their collective needs. It deserves serious consideration.
Russell Curtis, Director of RCKa architects, Mayor’s Design Advocate
The proposed Renewal areas present the biggest challenge in the Government’s reform agenda. The areas covered are so extensive and diverse. One solution in some areas could be some kind of community creation of codes for gentle densification, such as seen in this report.
Richard Blyth, Head of Policy, Royal Town Planning Institute
The ‘street votes’ approach advocated in this report offers a community-led route to suburban densification that could overcome much of the opposition sparked by developer-led initiatives. I welcome the report, and would be very interested to see trials of these ideas at sufficient scale to test them thoroughly.
Peter Eversden MBE, Chairman, London Forum of Amenity and Civic Societies
HTA has long argued that suburban intensification offers huge opportunities to improve our cities and create badly needed new homes. This report from Policy Exchange offers a powerful way to achieve this through empowering local communities to agree to the forms of intensification that they want.
Dr Riëtte Oosthuizen, HTA
Neighbourhood Planning has proven that local communities can engage positively in shaping their community and permitting growth. This paper takes that a step further – recognising that 20th century suburbia has been frozen in time, because there is no way the people who live there can choose or benefit from the evolution of suburban streets. Street level democratisation of development is a profoundly important idea that could have a key role to play in addressing both the housing shortage and creating more sustainable and attractive communities. The Government should give careful consideration to these important proposals.
Lord Taylor of Goss Moor
The ‘street votes’ approach will ensure that they are intimately involved in, and benefit from the changes in their immediate environment and also help deliver the homes that Londoners so desperately need.
Andrew Boff, London Assembly, Chair of the Planning and Regeneration Committee
I am genuinely excited by a radically new approach to get residents to go from being BANANAS (build absolutely nothing anywhere near anybody!) to YIMBYs! I am still scarred by experiences from trying to ‘place shape’ and provide much needed homes in Watford. It’s tough on everyone involved in the chain. It’s so important that we change this anti development culture. This proposal is brave, it’s challenging, it’s definitely ‘outside the box’ - but let’s give it a go.
Baroness Thornhill MBE, Former Liberal Democrat Mayor of Watford
Top down housing reform has been tried, tried again, and found wanting. If we are to make a robust change to the UK's housing market and planning regime we need to take on the insights of political economy. Street votes, by drawing on the insights of Ostrom and Olson, may just be that.
Mark Pennington, Professor of Political Economy and Public Policy, King’s College London
This is a tour de force. Finally, an English planning reform that is practical and politically feasible, but nonetheless has the potential over time to add many more beautiful homes where most needed. Seventy years of planning reform failure demonstrates that we need innovative thinking that also learns from the past. Southwood and Hughes have done just that.
John Myers, YIMBY Alliance
The White Paper is the greatest opportunity in living memory to build the homes we need, and these imaginative, fully worked, detailed proposals for street votes will help it deliver on its aims.
Anya Martin, Director of PricedOut
This fascinating proposal provides an updated and democratised version of the traditional building regulations that created so many of our best streets. It constitutes an important opportunity to create the beautiful homes that the country needs, and to do so with the support of existing residents.
Francis Terry, Francis Terry and Associates
These fascinating proposals will not solve the housing shortage alone, but they could make a major contribution to doing so, creating many high-quality homes and neighbourhoods, and helping to make house prices and rents more affordable.
Sir Robin Wales, Former Labour Mayor of Newham
Fast-growing firms play a crucial role in the British economy, creating innovative solutions to seemingly intractable problems. In recent decades, however, the UK’s planning system has largely locked them out of the housing industry. By devolving planning powers to communities, this outstanding scheme may give entrepreneurs a chance to deliver the housing we need in the places it’s most needed.
Philip Salter, The Entrepreneurs Network
This imaginative and well argued proposal is an important addition to the growing body of opinion in favour of encouraging suburban residents to transform their neighbourhoods through incremental change. The suburbs need smart new ideas to help them to modernise and urbanise, while retaining or restoring the qualities of greenery and domesticity which made them attractive in the first place. The inevitable shift in travel patterns and car ownership offer a great opportunity to make this happen.
Andrew Beharrell, Pollard Thomas Edwards – author of Semi-Permissive’
One of the biggest barriers to growth in the modern world is our failure to build enough houses in places where people want to live and work. But most proposals to fix it end up failing, because they ignore the thorny politics of the issue. This proposal is different - by providing an incentive for homeowners to support new building, it offers a credible solution to one of the biggest economic problems the UK faces.
Stian Westlake, author of Capital Without Capitalism
The UK needs more homes. One crucial and often overlooked way of getting them is suburban intensification. This carefully thought out and detailed proposal provides one way we might enable more suburban intensification, with community support.
Nick Hutchings, A2Dominion
It is important that people have proper control over their immediate surroundings: it is they who should define beauty, for it is they that will live with it. This kind of control can unlock the negativity to local development arising from a feeling of a lack of control and support the established historic process of intensification to the benefit of those who live there. By putting the future of streets in the hands of the inhabitants, this proposal could unlock the construction of many new homes.
Prof. Robert Adam, Robert Adam Architectural Consultancy
The well considered proposals appear an excellent opportunity for multiple stakeholders to deliver high quality development in substantial numbers to aid the national housing crisis. In our experience bringing the local community together to form a coherent plan with the agents of delivery can stymie development. The Strong Suburbs proposals could overcome this challenge and unlock the country’s enormous potential.
Matthew Rosson, Landhold
Community-led suburban intensification can make a valuable contribution to creating more homes and better neighbourhoods. This important report outlines a way of making this happen, and it deserves careful attention.
Ben Bolgar, Prince’s Foundation
We are delighted to see one of the key recommendations of Sir Roger Scruton’s Living with Beauty report developed with such care and detail. If it is implemented, it would create perhaps the greatest opportunity for beautiful architecture and urbanism in Britain since the Second World War. The Government should give the utmost attention to this profoundly important report.
Fisher Derderian, Executive Director, Roger Scruton Legacy Foundation
Britain needs not just more houses, but a rethink in how we think about housing. Beauty should not merely be an afterthought, and local communities should not merely be consulted, but take the reins in proposing development and controlling the form they see. These careful proposals are major steps towards achieving this rethink.
Rt Hon Sir John Hayes CBE, MP for South Holland and the Deepings
We are excited about these proposals and see the potential for a practical and inclusive plan for urban development. We can create more liveable and sustainable cities through suburban intensification, while providing badly needed homes. This important report illustrates a path to how this could be achieved by engaging local residents
Karl Sharro, Partner at PLP Architecture