Radical Housing Conference Bristol 2022

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Radical Housing Conference Bristol 2022

In a world where an affordable or accessible home have become oxymorons of our time, and accessibility and inclusion are proactively blocked by policy makers, we need to think differently about housing delivery.

Radical Housing Conference Bristol Oct 2022

This October, AccessiblePRS founder and director, Guy Harris was invited to speak at the UK’s first Radical Housing Conference, a sold-out event hosted in Bristol by Agile Homes, Design West and UWE.

In a world where an affordable or accessible home have become the oxymoron of our time, and wheelchair accessibility and inclusion is proactively blocked by policy makers, we need to think differently about housing delivery. The conference explored how land assembly, finance, inclusion & communities can combine in innovative ways to unlock new & radical models that enable the delivery of properly affordable and accessible homes for people in housing need.

Guy's talk on Rewriting Accessibility and Inclusion used story-telling to engage with the attendees (including people from progressive Local Authorities, Housing Associations, third sector housing associations, designers & architects, and postgrad students) and help them make an impactful and personal link to the relevance and benefits of inclusion in housing - both social and financial. It shifted mindsets to seeing the wider opportunity, rather than focusing on it as an out-of-context problem. By drilling into stories behind statistics attendees really engaged with the issues - evidence that we simply need to understand what the lack of accessible housing means in terms of our own lives, our loved ones, our communities (an annoying, hijacked and much abused property sector marketing buzzword) and for our roles as housing professionals.

Other speakers included:

Richard Bacon gave his keynote speech, describing the role he had played in catalysing the Self-build and Custom Housebuilding Act 2015, then followed by the Housing and Planning Act 2016 to help people register with local authorities to get a serviced plot of land for self and community-build houses. He showed huge knowledge of and passion for the subject, speaking candidly of what they're getting wrong and what we've already achieved to pave the way to unlocking land, land assembly and right to build legislation, saying, “None of this is radical. We can and must act to prevent people’s normal aspirations to have a safe, secure and sustainable home from disappearing into the distant future. The Act means we are making progress in getting the Government and local authorities to unlock land for new homes from surplus public sector land. The discussions here at the conference all point to the imperative need to accelerate this process and unlock more land, more quickly.”

Paul Chatterton, Founder of the exemplar LILAC Cohousing Scheme in Leeds, who shared 10 ways to improve housing - all of which are already proven but need scaling and wider appreciation and understanding.

Francesca Albanese, Head of Research and Evaluation at Crisis.

Tara Harris, Assistant Director of Community Services, Torbay Council, who was instrumental in the delivery of a pilot home in Torbay, which perfectly illustrates Agile's "Art of the Possible" in unlocking land hidden in plain sight and delivering affordable, high quality, low carbon homes where they're needed. The first tenant was a young woman who fled domestic violence with her 4 week old baby and was awaiting permanent housing - when clearly a low grade bedsit or hostel was a totally unsuitable environment to care for a new baby.

Dr Jemma Browne and Dawn Parke from Birmingham City University.

Neil McKay, Business Development Manager from Places for People.

Juliette Saunders, Head Of Development at Elim Housing Association and very interestingly providing serviced plots for traveller communities. There are 4000 travellers with nowhere to go.
She pointed out that there are over 2000 people with learning difficulties in hospital waiting for a home and some of the work that they have done is in creating a community for people to come out of hospital and move into.

And Lisa Brown who is the leading authority in Supporting Living. Formerly a nurse, Lisa bridges the gap between property investors wanting to let their properties to supported living providers and providers struggling to find property to let. She educates people, raises awareness of and works on the solutions to the problems this sector faces, so that everyone's property needs are met: the (often vulnerable) tenants, the providers and the property investors. 

The day was a fascinating collection of insights, projects and experiences from some dedicated and passionate professionals, with fantastic questions and points raised by a very proactive and engaged audience.