Posted in | News

Report Commissioned by Williams to Improve Housing in the Thames Gateway

A call to action to those responsible for housing design and delivery in the Thames Gateway not to repeat the mistakes of the large scale estates developments of the 60s and 70s by creating great places where people want to live, now and in the future, was made yesterday at the launch of the Williams Commission report.

Commissioned by the Housing Corporation, the independent report by Dr Tim Williams, a former Ministerial adviser and regeneration expert, challenges the Corporation, housing associations, private developers and local authorities to look again at the way affordable housing is delivered and sustainable communities created.

Over the next 10 years 160,000 new homes are being built in the Thames Gateway. The Housing Corporation will provide funding for 40%, around 60,000 of the affordable homes to be delivered in the Gateway. Decisions on their design and quality made now will determine the future for generations to come.

The Williams Commission brought together 27 individuals representing 22 major public, private and not for profit organisations with interests in the Gateway. Their report rises to the challenge facing the Gateway at this critical juncture, by calling for homes and places that are designed with respect for local character, the environment and the people who will live in them now and in the future.

Dr Tim Williams, Chair of the Commission, added, “I believe that this report makes an important contribution to the urgent national debate about urban design and social housing and how to influence others in the delivery chain of development in the Thames Gateway.”

“Commissioners felt that innovative thinking is required on delivering affordable housing in the Gateway if the place is to become what we would wish it to be. But this needs to be combined with serious learning from the past and a commitment to raise the bar even higher in future.”

The main findings of the report include:

  • A prospectus
    A recommendation that the Housing Corporation will produce a prospectus setting out processes, key objectives and priorities for development of grant-supported housing in the Gateway. All partners will be required to demonstrate their skills and capacity to deliver against the principles identified in the prospectus. These principles will include the diverse history of the area and the people who live there, the creation of mixed communities of equal opportunity, commitment to design excellence and sustainability, in the widest sense of the word.
  • A panel
    A recommendation that internal and external experts be invited to join a panel to assess the capabilities of partner organisations in delivering high quality new homes. Such a panel would draw together a list of ‘approved partners’, who will be approved for between two and five years.
  • A round table
    A recommendation that approved partners will be invited to participate in round table discussions and work up submissions in order to secure funding. Such a round table would bring together those who supply the land and funding for new homes, as well as those who will deliver them, and help break down barriers to design excellence which have been identified.
  • An on-going audit
    A recommendation that the Housing Corporation will audit the quality of each housing development undertaken by an approved partner, including Section106-derived schemes, and that if the homes are unsatisfactory approved partner status will be reconsidered, reduced in scale or withdrawn.
  • Collaboration on land
    A recommendation that Government departments adopt a similar approach to the development of their land as outlined for local authorities and work with Communities and Local Government and its agencies in a collaborative fashion to achieve the best quality result on that land.
  • Stronger planning
    A recommendation that the Planning Inspectorate sends a stronger message to developers and local authorities that the low quality of schemes is a legitimate basis on which applications can be rejected.
    Sir Duncan Michael, Housing Corporation Board Member, Investment Committee Chair and Member of the Williams Commission, added, “The Corporation welcomes the Commission’s report and the challenges its sets us and other agencies. Quality must guide quantity. Using CABE’s Building for Life Standard our Gold Awards and the like, the Housing Corporation has brought design and quality to be as valued as the numbers. We invited Dr Tim Williams to pull us further because we are facing the opportunity of a generation, for better or worse depending on what we choose to do in the Thames Gateway. We must not waste the chance.”

To quote a Williams Commissioner: “Above all else, the Williams Commission report, shows we must hold high expectations. That Leamington, Belgravia or Edinburgh New Town could 200 years ago, self-consciously and planned, build environments which remain so attractive to communities even today, when they had less than a tenth of our wealth, less than a tenth of our social legislation and less than a tenth of our engineering technology, shows what is well within our reach, if we have the consistent will and patience. People are the only difference in the equation, to make it worse or to make it better. We must choose to make it better in the Gateway.”

The report is launched during the Housing Corporation's first ever Design Week which is a celebration of social housing design across England.

Tell Us What You Think

Do you have a review, update or anything you would like to add to this news story?

Leave your feedback
Your comment type

While we only use edited and approved content for Azthena answers, it may on occasions provide incorrect responses. Please confirm any data provided with the related suppliers or authors. We do not provide medical advice, if you search for medical information you must always consult a medical professional before acting on any information provided.

Your questions, but not your email details will be shared with OpenAI and retained for 30 days in accordance with their privacy principles.

Please do not ask questions that use sensitive or confidential information.

Read the full Terms & Conditions.