Solving the Housing Crisis. What role can innovation play?

The opening panel discussion on the Residential Stage tackled this question.

Of course there is no easy answer but this stellar line up of experts, definitely shared some fascinating insights that we can learn from…

Here are the Top 5 Key Takeaways:

Moderator: Susan Freeman, Partner at Mishcon de Reya


  • Dan Batterton – Build to Rent Fund Director at Legal & General Investment Management.
  • Paul Maltby – Chief Digital Officer at the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government.
  • Killian Hurley – Chief Executive at Mount Anvil.
  • Melanie Leech – Chief Executive at the British Property Federation.

1. Why are we still building the way the Victorians did ?! 
A great question asked by Dan Batterton. He went on to explain that “one of the reasons for the 'housing crisis' is down to a lack of incentives and initiatives. There is currently no reward for innovation in the homebuilding sector. One of the first 3 sectors to transform innovation in housing will be – 1. Build to Rent 2. Public Sector 3. Retirement Living.” 

2. Lets utilise what we already have! 
It was unanimously agreed, that the emphasis must not just be on building, but also on utilising, repurposing and modernising the existing real estate. 

3. Government is seriously looking at PropTech and other technology solutions to address these issues. 
The fact that they hired Paul Maltby as the first Chief Digital Officer is a positive sign from the Ministry of Housing. This role has been created out of a need for change and shows the  government is willing to take necessary steps to  become more digital in it's thinking. Lets hope closer collaboration with the PropTech community & the wider property industry will continue. 

4. Improving the Planning Process and Speed of Delivery! 
The panel agreed that one major issue that is slowing down the delivery of affordable housing is  that our planning and conveyancing procedures are stuck in the dark ages. These need to be updated and made far more efficient and transparent in order to stay current. Government policy urgently needs to be updated as some laws even mean that currently home builders are penalised for speed of delivery – surely this has to change? 

5. Utilising technology. How can PropTech help? 
Plenty of solutions exist on the market, including the use of more DATA! Big Data can help us to determine which properties are being utilised to full capacity and which can be remodelled to occupy more people etc. Data can also allow us to see what land is available and help planners to decide whether to build on underdeveloped land or make better use of what we already have!

To summarise this is what needs to change:

  • Speed of delivery
  • Incentives to build faster
  • Better Planning and Conveyancing processes
  • Current home building business models
  • Modernising Existing Real Estate
  • More off-site construction factories need to be built
  • Investment into modular housing companies
  • The mindset that this crisis is a short term thing. This is a generational issue
  • House price inflation
  • At least 70 days to purchase a home – this needs to be quicker
  • Look at countries like Germany who we can learn from
  • BIM needs to be adopted across the industry.

All in all a very fascinating panel. You can watch the entire video as well as the others from the event on our YouTube Channel.

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