West Mids centenary celebration 'a fitting tribute to Octavia Hill and housing'
The CIH West Midlands Board hosted a successful event to celebrate to CIH's centenary.
The event was hosted by Sandwell Council in the comfortable setting of the Council Chamber. Delegates were given an insight into the developing strategic housing visions for the West Midlands Combined Authority with a presentation from Jan Britton; chief executive of Sandwell Council. The links between infrastructure, employment and housing along with the opportunities and challenges we as a housing profession are facing 100 years on from Octavia Hill are vastly different; the numbers alone are staggering.
Delegates then heard from Councillor Sean Coughlan; leader of Walsall Council. He holds the portfolio for housing and land for the West Midlands combined authority, so he set out the emerging priorities for development and land assembly. Again more challenges for the sector to consider for the future, and more opportunities for partnership working.
Dr Chris Handy gave a registered provider's perspective around development opportunities with a focus on Garden Cities. He included examples from Accord’s localhomes modular build factory based in Walsall. If you haven’t seen the product or had a tour of the factory it’s well worth a look! Eco homes built in a day can be part of the solution.
We then heard from Stuart Penn, regional director at Lovells who stepped in at the last moment to give a developer's prospective. Why is it so difficult for construction companies to build homes in the Midlands? He too reinforced the call for collaborative and partnership approaches to bring housing new build numbers up and free up land. This was a particular challenge to council planners and development control departments.
Last but not least we heard a short presentation from Nic Bliss, head of policy for the Confederation of Co-operative Housing. Nic reminded us all that we need to bring communities along with us on the journey. Communities have huge potential to come together to help shape solutions and the combined authority should consider how they engage with communities especially when planning for housing.
Nirmal, the chair of the West Midlands Regional Board then cut the celebration cake and delegates were able to network over a wonderful lunch. After lunch delegates split into three workshops to discuss a number of pre-set questions which prompted some lively debate and stimulated lots of ideas of all involved to take away and develop further. The links to health and housing were very strong themes throughout.
The event ended with the wonderfully penned and executed poem to celebrate Octavia Hill’s centenary by Birmingham’s 20th Poet Laureate Matt Windle; those of you at the Midlands Awards will know what a fitting tribute it was to Octavia and 100 years of Housing and an excellent way to finish off the event.
CIH West Midlands Board