Having recognised the need to build thousands of homes around the country Housing Minister Kris Hopkins has also realised that the housing industry must now help existing communities appreciate the need to create new and quite large neighbourhoods – possibly in their back yards. To help this ‘hearts and minds’ exercise he has pledged to help the industry improve its relationship with the public and local government while helping homebuilders showcase their contributions to society.
Speaking at the Home Builders Federation annual lunch, Hopkins said that despite the industry employing apprentices, creating jobs, building new homes and committing to charitable works, there was still a ‘tension’ between the industry, local communities and authorities. He suggested that:
“There is an opportunity to build a better relationship between you and the public – you deliver jobs, homes and infrastructure and yet there is still a tension between you and local communities and planners. You need to showcase what you do and I see it as an important part of my role to help you do this.”
It is unlikely that this is news to an industry that traditionally not only hides but also tends to bury its light under a bushel. Back in the late nineties the New Homes Marketing Board (NHMB) conducted research, which among many other positive stories discovered that the only organisation planting more trees than the homebuilding industry was the Forestry Commission. Perhaps it’s time for homebuilders to resurrect the NHMB and sort out their image.
However, Hopkins does believe the future looks good for the industry. He concluded:
“You can look forward to a sustainable period of growth, perhaps some of the best times we have seen for decades. However, there are still challenges – land, finance and planning.”