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Homes England invite DCS Chair to discuss 'DoT' with DPP3 Panel.....

Excerpt from the Homes England _ 2018 - 2023 Strategic Plan, written by Sir Edward Lister:

".....Housing is one of the defining issues of our time. The affordability pressures we’re experiencing today have been decades in the making.

At the most basic level, we’ve not been building enough homes. This has led to soaring house prices and rising rents.

Nationally, the average house now costs 8 times the average income. In some places that number rises well into double digits. As a result, a whole generation can no longer afford to get on the housing ladder.

We desperately need more homes in the right places where people want to live.

The government has a clear ambition to increase the levels of housebuilding. The aim is to be delivering 300,000 new homes a year on average.

We’ve made real progress in the last 5 years, but we now need to go much further. In the next 5 years, we will need to make significant changes to the way we deliver homes.

Ultimately, we need to disrupt the housing market.

That is why government has established Homes England and we’re already striking bold deals and forming new types of innovative partnerships to shake up housing delivery.

It is just the start. This 5-year strategic plan sets out our ambitious new mission and the steps we will take with industry to respond to the long-term housing challenges facing this country.

We plan to be bold, creative and think big. We hope the whole of the housing sector – big and small, up and down the country – will join us for the next 5 years and beyond....."

It is the over-arching objective of Homes England to help more people in England to access better homes in the right places by:

  • supporting the affordable housing market

  • providing investment products, including for major infrastructure

  • unlocking and enabling land

  • delivering home ownership products,

  • addressing the barriers facing smaller builders

  • providing expert support to priority locations

Earlier this week [on 03.12.20] our Founder and Chair Bola Abisogun OBE, was invited by the DPP3 Panel Lead, Sarah Hall and Senior ED&I Manager, Julie Musesoglu to discuss the issue(s) and challenge(s) of implementing "diversity of thought" as part of the wider role of the housing accelerator, otherwise known as Homes England.

Previously known as the Homes and Communities Agency and unbeknown to Bola, the Homes England 'Delivery Partner Panel' aka DPP3 has been an insanely successful procurement vehicle in the provision of new homes, across the country. All successfully appointed DPP3 members, have according to their own appetite, benefited greatly from the 'hidden technical resource and financial capability' of the team at Homes England, in seeking to support third parties to unlock land that would otherwise be unviable and uninvestible

What is the DPP3 Panel and what is its purpose?

Procured through a fully compliant Official Journal of the European Union (OJEU) process, DPP3 was specifically designed for the procurement of work to deliver residential-led development on public sector land and has proved to be an efficient enabler in the procurement of housing-led development on land owned by public sector bodies across the country.

The half day conference type event, was introduced and led by Stephen Kinsella, Chief Land and Development Officer - who provided an in depth and rather exciting landscape of historic, current and future activity. Amidst the wide ranging and multi-faceted delivery, Stephen spoke of the many challenges that had been emerging prior to, during and now following the COVID lockdown(s) and the many ways that he and his team had challenged themselves to overcome and remain focussed on their core, both as a facilitator and accelerator. The role of Homes England as 'Master Developer' which is an attempt by his team to do more than the bare minimum, was most intriguing, as they seek to unlock the more challenging sites, identified across the country.

Officially launched in July 2017 and designed to run for four (4) years [originally, until July 2021], DPP3 provides a simple, speedy Public Contract Regulations 2015 compliant procurement route, for public sector organisations to appoint a developer or contractor to develop parcels of land.

Spread over five regional lots [geographic areas] covering (1) North East, Yorkshire and the Humber, (2) North West, (3) Midlands, (4) East and South East, and (5) the South and South West, it is seamlessly deployed for housing schemes of 25 homes or more. It was further affirmed that the average land parcel offered by the Homes England [Land Hub] averages between 100 and 500 residential units.

Conveniently, the DPP3 offers a completely 'free of charge' opportunity to a wide range of land owners including central government departments, NHS trusts and educational establishments as well as local authorities, registered providers and other public sector bodies, simultaneously helping them to streamline their procurement, of what could and has proved to be, a very challenging process.

In its current form, the DPP3 panel has engaged with SME developers & contractors and positively assisted the wider public and private sector to achieve the combined delivery of an increasing number of residential units, per annum [as seen below]. By encouraging better Supplier Diversity, the aspirational (annual) government target of 300,000 units [all things being equal, noting the disproportionate effects of the global pandemic] is fast becoming a tangible reality, in the UK.

But, typical of any well-run and growing organisation, Nick Walkley, CEO and his entire Executive Team appear keen to push the boundaries [of knowledge, process and innovation] and challenge themselves to find new innovative [and increasingly digital] ways of increasing the range, speed and quality of homes. Aligned to this vision is an inclusive and considerate, place-based optic, with bio-diversity net gain 'BNG' forming the nucleus of what Homes England, successfully procure and deliver.

An informed session was delivered by Homes England colleague Lisa Palframan who delivered an eloquent session on the need to leave behind 'a natural environment that is better' than when it was met. The concept of BNG has truly come alive, and rightly so, now with a global mandate of extreme urgency. And, as the UK seeks to achieve netzero by 2050, the sustainability of every development project will prove to be more important, particularly as the challenge(s) presented by global warming, continue to grow exponentially.

Moreover, and on the topic of innovation, building safety and design quality, the Homes of 2030 competition was also broached by Stephen, with the shortlisted finalists being duly acknowledged. However, the successful winner, a consortium [including Cast Consultancy, led by Mark Farmer, CEO and UK Govt MMC Champion] was finally announced yesterday [04.12.20] and takes claim as being the most successful and innovative house design that will sit alongside others, actively being promoted by the Technical Team at Homes England. Well done to BRE / MOBIE / Design Council and RIBA for their successful co-designed campaign and also to George Clarke for challenging the status quo.

Given his growing 'global' portfolio, it has become wholly apparent to Bola that the use of digital technology in construction will have a huge role to play in the sustainable provision of public sector housing. Along with the work currently being undertaken by Alexandra Bolton at the University of Cambridge [via the Centre for Digital Built Britain; CDBB] an opportunity was seized by him to further inspire current DPP3 Members and share his own perspective of the ongoing, intense effort, by the highly capable team delivering the UK's National Digital Twin Programme. A committed member [and NDTp Ambassador] supporting the Change Stream, Bola attempted to inject further critical insight into what could prove to be a missed opportunity, to add value towards a national project of immense and growing importance. The whole-life-cycle [and feasibility] of every project funded by Homes England and/or delivered by an appointed DPP3 member(s), must aim to deliver a 'connected' digital-twin as a definitive and critical project outcome.

By virtue of his limited, but hugely positive engagement with the DPP3 panel, Bola's disruptive seed of "diversity of thought" was successfully sown. It is also hoped that the 'Centre of Excellence' that Stephen mentioned, will further explore this 'game-changing' digital process, to improve 'real-time / right-time', post-construction asset management, during the economic life of the asset. For the record, it is also highly unlikely that 'netzero' will be successfully achieved [by 2050 in the UK] and/or maintained in any meaningful way, given the continued absence of widescale adoption of 'connected' digital twins.

It is ONLY by disrupting what many experienced Chartered Surveyors have learnt and urgently re-skilling ourselves [through a genre of collaborative working] will we truly ensure that every 'tax-payer' pound spent OR ethical bond invested, be fully optimised in the pursuit of 'carbon friendly', housing-led developments across the country. That we also deliver a culturally competent, highly efficient and productive modern construction industry, remains not only ideal, but particularly poignant - in a turbulent economic landscape - where the communities being served are also sufficiently represented [at all levels], in the physical delivery of these much needed built assets. There is also the wider, global consideration of ethics, professional standards and the aggregated consistency [and shared ownership] of big data; yes, the 'new' challenge is real.

Clearly, both uncertain and exciting times await us all, so let's be the change that we all want to see...........stay tuned.


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