Westminster Social Policy Forum

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The future for housing design and delivery in the UK

December 2020


Price: £95 PLUS VAT
Format: DOWNLOADABLE PDF


***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.


The discussion is bringing together stakeholders with key policy officials who are due to attend from MHCLG; BEIS; Homes England; the Cabinet Office; HMRC; Defra; DfT; DHSC; DIT; the Department for Infrastructure, NI; The Scottish Government and the Welsh Government.


The discussion at a glance:


  • priorities - improving the quality, sustainability and energy efficiency of homes as proposed within the Future Homes Standard
  • the impact of wider government policy including the Planning White Paper, Social Housing White Paper, and the PM’s Ten Point Plan for a Green Industrial Revolution
  • implementation - issues, practicalities and next steps for the National Design Guide and the National Model Design Code
  • housing developments - their role as part of well-designed places, the development of local guidelines and ensuring access to greenspace
  • MMC and promoting new ways of working - next steps for improving the delivery and design of new homes, and reduce costs, as the industry recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic

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 Design Code
  • Creating well-designed places - developing local guidance, promoting more beautiful and sustainable developments, improving energy efficiency, 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 across all tenures

Areas for discussion:


  • 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
  • The impact of provisions in the Planning White Paper, Social Housing White Paper, and the PM’s Ten Point Plan for a Green Industrial Revolution including around speeding up the planning process, improving the quality of homes and access to greenspace and on decarbonizing heat from housing
  • 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

A scan of background and key developments:


  • the Planning For the Future White Paper - and reforms to allow a range of commercial properties to be converted into housing without planning permission, and easier property extensions
  • The Ten Point Plan for a Green Industrial Revolution - from the PM, including making homes, greener, warmer and more energy efficient, and a target to install 600,000 heat pumps yearly by 2028
  • ‘Permitted development’ homes to meet space standards - MHCLG announcement of homes given lighter touch consent needing to comply Nationally Described Space Standard on floorspace
  • Raising accessibility standards for new homes - consultation on suitability and adaptability of homes for older and disabled people
  • Boost for families wishing to build their own home - government review of self and custom builds, including procedures around councils granting permission, publishing data, and to consider the demand for land for self and custom-builds when making local planning decisions
  • the National Design Guide - from MHCLG - with characteristics of well-designed places that work to create character, nurture a sense of community, and are sustainable
  • a National Model Design Code - due later this year on key elements of successful design, following the Living with beauty: report of the Building Better, Building Beautiful Commission for MHCLG
  • Modern Methods of Construction working group: developing a definition framework - and appointment of Mark Farmer as the Champion for Modern Methods of Construction
  • The charter for social housing residents: social housing white paper - which outlines in part plans to:
    • review the Decent Homes Standard
    • increase the supply of new and beautiful social homes
    • bring forward a new Framework of Green Infrastructure Standards to help local authorities, developers and communities to improve green infrastructure, including greenspace provision
  • Building for a Healthy Life - new design guidance from NHS England backed by Homes England for new housing development plans incorporate how best to encourage healthier lifestyles
  • the Future Homes Standard - aimed at increasing the energy efficiency requirements for new homes
  • the Building Safety Bill - with wide-ranging changes designed to improve building and fire safety, including the creation of a new Building Safety Regulator
  • the Environment Bill - which includes provisions to ensure biodiversity net gain in new housing developments

Policy officials attending:


Our forums are known for attracting strong interest from policymakers and stakeholders. Places have been reserved by parliamentary pass-holders from the House of Commons, and representatives from MHCLG; BEIS; Defra; the Cabinet Office; HM Revenue & Customs; Homes England; the Department for International Trade; the Department for Transport; the Department for Infrastructure, NI; the DHSC; the Geospatial Commission; the Health and Safety Executive; The Scottish Government and the Welsh Government.


Overall, we expect speakers and attendees to be a senior and informed group including Members of both Houses of Parliament, senior government and regulatory officials involved in this area of policy, as well as from representatives of the house building and wider construction sector, along with their partners, suppliers and customers; local authorities and community groups; lawyers, investors and financial analysts; charities, and advocacy and consumer groups, academics and commentators; and reporters from the national and specialist media.


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



This pack includes

  • Dropbox video recording of the conference
  • PDF transcript of the discussion, including all speaker remarks and Q&A
  • PDFs of speakers' slide material (subject to permission)
  • PDFs of the delegate pack, including speaker biographies and attendee list
  • PDFs of delegate articles