JV North chairman tells HQN Conference sector needs to be bold & stick to its housing objectives

JV North’s Chairman says the sector needs to be bold and stick to its housing objectives despite Covid-19 and the departure from the EU at the end of the year.

Wayne Gales, who is also Chief Executive of Weaver Vale Housing Trust, was speaking as a panellist in the ‘Unlocking Development’ workshop of Housing Quality Network’s (HQN) annual conference.

The session discussed what the sector is doing to get development back on track, what type of homes should be built and how demand can be met in such an uncertain market.

Wayne Gales said:

“Extending the 2016/21 SOAHP by a year is helpful for projects delayed by Covid-19 but until we get detail on the new £12bn programme we are treading water to some degree.

“The counter cyclical nature of the housing sector means we can help soften the economic downturn provided government remains committed to supporting the sectors’ stability and investing in affordable housing in all its forms.

“Government needs to remember that addressing climate change, increasing safety and building new homes all comes at a cost.”

Mr Gales acknowledged the sector also has to make changes to meet housing demand by accepting risk is a constant in building much-needed homes.

“Fostering a marriage of equals between good contractors, developers and consultants is becoming increasingly difficult and the reality is many of the best are becoming more and more selective as to who they will and won’t work with,” adds Mr Gales.

“We need to ask ourselves some very honest questions.

“What does your culture as an organisation look and feel like? How quickly do you and can you make decisions? What’s your reputation as a client like? What is your appetite to risk and risk sharing? Is your procurement process fit for purpose or just what you’ve always done?

“The sector also needs to grow up a little, establish some boundaries and have the right conversations at the right times with each other.

“Far too often we allow the opportunity to arise where we are competing with each other, often serving only to push up prices for land, section 106 agreements or developer lead opportunities.

“It is clear however that we must stick to our housebuilding objectives and be bold.

“This means innovating with partners more, making offsite manufactured homes work, procuring in more efficient, modern ways and investing in skills which will be vital to maintain capacity when Brexit concludes in December.”