Housing: Seeking Common Ground?


Seeking common ground?

Affordable, timely and sustainable housing for London’s workforce
Monday 20 June, 5.30pm – 7.15pm (followed by networking drinks) 

This event was attended by almost one hundred director-level representatives from a range of sectors including local and national government, think tanks, leading academic institutions, housing associations and professional bodies in house building and planning. Catch up on everything that was discussed at the Policy Forum by viewing the resources on this page.

Topic of discussion

The Housing and Planning Act and current Greater London Authority initiatives will, at best, only partially address the substantial need for genuinely affordable, timely and sustainable housing – for rent and for purchase – for London’s workforce now, and in the future. The new Mayor, Local Authorities and the government will continue to face significant challenges for many years.

The expert panel at this event considered the realistic potential to meet London’s housing demand, in terms of:

  • how – the capacity to build at the required volume
  • where – the locational opportunities, constraints and possible priorities
  • with due environmental care – can affordable growth be accommodated sustainably and with good quality design?
  • Can we identify common ground and what are the implications?

Recommendations to the Mayor of London: addressing London’s housing crisis

A quarter (of almost one hundred) director-level delegates at the Policy Forum put forward their suggested recommendations to the Mayor of London on how to solve London’s housing crisis. A full report of the recommendations proposed can be accessed here:

Recommendations to the Mayor of London: how to address the housing crisis. Full Report 2016

Interviews with the Chair and panel

Listen to an interview podcast with the Chair and panellists (or read the written summary), recorded just before the Policy Forum took place.

Panellists talked about:

  • The importance of the RGS-IBG holding an event on this topic
  • The value of geography and social science in tackling the housing crisis
  • What they were going to discuss at the Policy Forum
  • Their key recommendations for policy-makers working in the housing sector

The Chair, Professor Chris Hamnett, also talked about the concept of ‘affordable’ housing.

Panellists enter in the following order:

0.45 mins – Professor Chris Hamnett, Kings’ College London (Chair)

5.40 mins – Rt Hon. Nick Raynsford, Former MP and Housing Minister

10.04 mins – Barney Stringer, Quod

11.50 mins – Robin Nicholson CBE, Cullinan Studio

14.10 mins – Professor Paul Cheshire, London School of Economics

Summary of discussion  

A summary of the evening’s discussion is available as a blog post, written by the Chair of the event, geographer Professor Chris Hamnett.

Guest Blog Post

David Ireland OBE, Director of the Building and Social Housing Foundation says in his guest blog post that policy-makers should question the status quo of owner occupation. Read more on this here: Solving London’s Housing Crisis: moving on from the status quo.


Audio recording 

Listen to the audio recording of the entire panel discussion, including audience Q&A (1 hour 52 minutes).


View the 21st Century Challenges Housing Storify summarising the key points discussed on social media during the Policy Forum, as well as the complementary public panel discussion, ‘Life off the Ladder’ (discussing the rise of long-term renting in Britain).

Geographical Magazine

Read the ‘Perspectives’ feature in Geographical magazine (August 2016) which showcases the opinions of the panellists on tackling ‘The Housing Challenge’ (available to RGS-IBG members and Fellows, or on magazine subscription).



Biographies of the Chair and Panellists



Professor Chris Hamnett: Professor in Human Geography, Kings’ College London

Chris Hamnett is regarded as a leading British expert on housing wealth and inheritance and a leading researcher in the fields of social polarization, gentrification and housing, particularly in London. His knowledge of the housing market in London was recognised by his becoming a Westminster housing commissioner in 2005-6 and an Ealing Housing Commissioner in 2011. He is a contributor on economic and social issues to the Independent, The Financial Times and the Guardian.



Rt Hon. Nick Raynsford, Former MP and Housing Minister

Nick Raynsford was the Member of Parliament for Greenwich and Woolwich from 1997 – 2015, having previously served as MP for Greenwich from 1992 – 1997 and for Fulham between 1986 – 1987. Prior to joining Parliament, Nick Raynsford was a Councillor for the London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham between 1971 – 1975. In opposition, Nick Raynsford was Shadow Minister for Housing and Construction from 1994 – 1997. From 1997, Nick held ministerial responsibility in the Labour Government for housing, planning and construction, as well as serving as Minister for London. From 2001 – 2005, Nick was Minister for Local and Regional Government in the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister. Nick was made a Privy Councillor in the New Year’s Honours in 2001. Amongst his current roles, Nick is currently a Vice-President of the Town and Country Planning Association.

Barney Stringer: Director, Quodbarney_stringer_200_200

Barney Stringer is Director of planning and regeneration specialists, Quod, based in London. Barney is a prominent analyst on the need for new housing, and the evidence for objectively assessed needs. Barney has experienced planning and policy from different sides over a twenty year career, as an award-winning journalist, as an expert political advisor, in policy lobbying in the UK and EU, as head of the planning team at a Regional Development Agency, and in schools planning for local authorities. Barney’s track record includes many of the biggest developments in the country, from railways to stadia, and from major new communities to high profile office towers.

Lynne_200_200Lynne Sullivan OBE (unable to attend the event on the night)

Lynne Sullivan is an architect and Chair of both the RIBA Sustainable Futures Group and the Good Homes Alliance, a group of housing developers, building professionals and industry supporters whose aim is to transform the housing sector towards low energy, healthy homes with proven performance. Lynne has an outstanding track record as a Project Architect specialising in sustainable and low-energy developments, of which many have won awards and competitions. Most notably, she won the UK Government’s first Zero COHousing Competition in 1999 (with Nigel Craddock at ECD). Lynne was awarded an OBE in the New Year’s Honours List in 2011, for services to architecture.

Robin_Nicholson_CM_23_06_16_200_200Robin Nicholson CBE: Senior Practice Partner, Cullinan Studio (deputised for Lynne Sullivan)

Robin is a senior member of the Cullinan Studio. He is a Board Member of the NHBC, Convenor of The Edge, a member of the CABE Eco-Town Design Review Panel and Chair of the Cambridgeshire Quality Panel. He has been Vice-President of the RIBA, Chairman of CIC and was a founder member of the Movement for Innovation Board; he continues to help develop the Design Quality Indicator. Robin was awarded a CBE in 1999, an Honorary Fellowship of the Institution of Structural Engineers in 2002 and an Honorary Fellowship of Chartered Institute of Building Services in 2013.

Paul_CheshireProfessor Paul Cheshire: Economic Geographer, London School of Economics and Political Science

An economist by training, Paul Cheshire is Professor of Economic Geography in the Department of Geography and Environment at the London School of Economics. In 2014, Paul co-authored a book with two other economic geographers, Henry Overman and Max Nathan, called Urban Economics and Urban Policy: Challenging Conventional Wisdom and was recently named one of the Planning industry’s most influential people. His research interests include spatial applications of economics, urban land and housing markets and the consequences of land use regulation.

Past events

Find out more about previous events in the 21st Century Challenges: Policy Forum series.