SWLLC Response to Michael Gove’s Brownfield Proposal: “Listen to your communities”

The recent government proposal to accelerate urban housing development by prioritising brownfield sites, as highlighted in Michael Gove’s consultation paper, has sparked both praise and concern within the built environment sector. While we welcome these initiatives as potential solutions to the housing crisis, it is crucial that we raise critical questions about its adequacy and potential impact. 

“As a vital part of our mission, our work is driven by the lived experiences and concerns of our community members. Many of them face housing insecurity and struggle to find affordable accommodation in an increasingly challenging market. It is our job to push the conversation to advocate for the needs and rights of clients who knock on our doors for help.  Many of our clients have experienced health and safety issues, including fires, in hastily converted office to residential blocks and we urge DHLUC to exercise caution in removing “red tape” in such developments.  For many, this so called “red tape” is what keeps them safe in their home.” Patrick Marples, CEO 

While we acknowledge the government’s effort to address the housing crisis, we have reservations about the effectiveness of making conversion from office to residential a faster and less bureaucratic process given that the existing “red tape” does not seem to prevent health and safety breaches.  Without proper safeguards and support mechanisms in place, such initiatives may fall short of adequately addressing the needs of our vulnerable clients. 

The Town and Country Planning Association (TCPA) has been lobbying the government to improve regulations under permitted development (PD), not reduce the regulations. Research released this month by University College of London and the TCPA reports that “permitted development policy was not created to improve the quality of homes but rather increase the number of homes supplied. By avoiding the need to address planning policies to a large extent, homes that are being produced through PD that are not influenced by those policies that seek to shape the quality of the built environment, and thereby health outcomes”  

It is incumbent upon the government to listen to community-driven solutions. As advocates for social justice and equitable housing, we urge policymakers to engage with grassroots organisations and marginalised communities to ensure that any housing initiative is implemented in a way that truly meets the needs of those most affected. By prioritising community input and taking proactive steps to address systemic inequalities, we can work towards a future where everyone has access to safe, affordable, and dignified housing. 

To find out more about our work with residents of Temporary Accommodation and to join our Campaigns, please see here.