Westminster Social Policy Forum

Since lockdown, we have been organising our full programme of conferences online. We will continue online until further notice, to ensure we play our part in helping our employees and delegates to remain safe during this time. We are pleased that so many key stakeholders, policymakers and other interested parties - both old friends and new delegates - are taking up the opportunity to discuss public policy issues and network at our impartial seminars. New events are coming on to our conference programme all the time. So there are plenty of opportunities for you to join us if you haven’t already, from wherever you are. For booking-related queries, or information on speaking, please email us at info@forumsupport.co.uk or contact us using one of the following numbers: +44 (0)7951044809 / +44 (0)7503591880 / +44 (0)7538736244.
For delegates already booked on, we will send you the online joining instructions (including links, event numbers and passwords) five working days before your conference. If you cannot find these in your inbox please email delegate.relations@forumsupport.co.uk

The future for housing design and delivery in the UK

TO BE PUBLISHED December 2020

***Full-scale policy conference taking place online***

This conference will consider the future for housing design and delivery in the UK - and priorities for addressing poor quality housing design.

It takes place against the backdrop of a range of major policy developments affecting the planning regime, including:

We are pleased that keynote speakers at this conference include: Mark Farmer, Champion, Modern Methods of Construction; Paul Monaghan, Special Adviser, Building Better, Building Beautiful Commission; Andy Von Bradsky, Head of Architecture - Housing Supply and Planning Directorate, MHCLG; Edel Christie, Managing Director, Buildings, Arcadis; and Dr Sonja Dragojlovic-Oliveira, Associate Professor, Architecture and Design Innovation, UWE Bristol.

Key areas for discussion include:

  • issues, practicalities and next steps for implementation of the Guide and the Code
  • priorities for improving the quality, sustainability and energy efficiency of homes as proposed within the future homes standard
  • the role of housing developments as part of well-designed places and the development of local guidelines
  • utilising MMC to improve the delivery and design of new homes, reduce costs, and to promote new ways of working as the industry recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic

Why this is relevant now - the context:

  • The National Design Guide, the National Model Design Code and the work of the Building Better, Building Beautiful Commission
  • Stakeholders such as Design Council, Place Alliance, and Urban Design Group calling on government to introduce a Design Quality Unit to accelerate the implementation of the BBBBC’s proposals
  • The Housing Secretary announcing new measures to support the construction sector - including longer planning permission deadlines, quicker appeals, and more flexible working hours
  • Development of a Future Homes Standard - with the aim of increasing the energy efficiency requirements for new homes
  • The expected Planning White Paper - which sets out government plans aimed at streamlining and speeding up the planning system
  • Implementation of the revised National Planning Policy Framework - which includes a section on achieving well-designed places
  • The draft Building Safety Bill - containing wide-ranging changes designed to improve building and fire safety, including the creation of a new Building Safety Regulator
  • The Environment Bill - recently reintroduced to parliament, which includes provisions to ensure biodiversity net gain in new housing developments
  • Wider policy developments including NHS England’s work on healthy place-making and commitments in its long term plan to develop a Healthy New Towns Quality Standard incentivising health and the promotion of wellbeing

The discussion in detail:

  • Quality and aesthetics of new developments  - assessing the new development and planning framework put forward by the Building Better, Building Beautiful Commission
  • The National Design Guide - practical considerations for developers, local government, investors and other stakeholders in meeting the 10 characteristics the Guide sets out around design, functionality, safety and accessibility, sustainability, and nurturing a sense of community
  • Local authorities  - what more can be done to support them when developing individual design codes, and how best to ensure and support the development of well-designed places
  • The legacy of COVID-19 - how it is likely to affect considerations for planning and design into the future, and what it means for developers, local authorities, home buyers and other stakeholders
  • Modern Methods of Construction - next steps for rolling out MMC, modular homes and wider off-site construction - looking at issues including:
    • what will be needed to realise its intended benefits, which include:
      • reducing costs and attracting investment
      • ensuring homes fit better with national and local design guides
      • enabling industry to work in different and sustainable ways
      • encouraging developers to take more interest in the community
    • development of skills and infrastructure design to increase MMC capacity in the UK
    • public engagement and overcoming pre-conceptions on quality associated with the pre-fab era
    • resolving barriers at the design stage, stemming from the different planning and construction processes involved in MMC compared to legacy approaches
    • how best to deal with any procurement difficulties in this relatively new market and to maximise environmental performance and sustainability

The agenda:

  • Key issues for ensuring high-quality design and takeaways from the Building Better, Building Beautiful Commission
  • Improving the quality of homes and implementing the National Model Design Code
  • Creating well-designed places - developing local guidance, community engagement, promoting more beautiful and sustainable developments, and implementing the Future Homes Standard
  • The role of Modern Methods of Construction (MMC) and its potential to address challenges facing the housing sector
  • Prioritising design capability and capacity for MMC delivery
  • Accelerating the delivery of off-site construction methods
  • Assessing the role of MMC and new innovative methods in meeting housing demand

Policy officials attending:

Our forums are known for attracting strong interest from policymakers and stakeholders.

This conference looks no different. Places have been reserved by parliamentary pass-holders from the House of Commons, and representatives from MHCLG; BEIS; Defra; Homes England; the Cabinet Office; HM Revenue & Customs; the Department for International Trade; the Department for Infrastructure, NI; The Scottish Government and the Welsh Government.

This is a full-scale conference taking place online***

  • full, four-hour programme including comfort breaks - you’ll also get a full recording to refer back to
  • information-rich discussion involving key policymakers and stakeholders
  • conference materials provided in advance, including speaker biographies
  • speakers presenting via webcam, accompanied by slides if they wish, using the Cisco WebEx professional online conference platform (easy for delegates - we’ll provide full details)
  • opportunities for live delegate questions and comments with all speakers
  • a recording of the addresses, all slides cleared by speakers, and further materials, is made available to all delegates afterwards as a permanent record of the proceedings
  • delegates are able to add their own written comments and articles following the conference, to be distributed to all attendees and more widely
  • networking too - there will be opportunities for delegates to e-meet and interact - we’ll tell you how!

Full information and guidance on how to take part will be sent to delegates before the conference

Price: £95 PLUS VAT

Shortly after every Westminster Social Policy Forum seminar, a briefing document is produced. This is distributed to all delegates on the day as well as to our policymaker contacts in government, and to stakeholders more widely.

A seminar publication provides a timely record of proceedings, and acts as a guide to the latest thinking on current policy issues for those unable to be at the event.

This publication includes


Contributions from keynotes and panellists, including accompanying slides*
*Subject to approval

Delegate Pack

Information from the day, including delegate list, biographies and agenda


Transcript of questions and comments posed to speakers from attending delegates


Supplementary articles from speakers
and delegates