Cracking the Housing Nut

BEFS Annual Lecture this year returned to the topic of how Scotland addresses its housing needs.

We invited Thomas Aubrey, Director of the Centre for Progressive Capitalism, and Alastair Parvin, co-founder of WikiHouse Foundation, to give their perspectives.

The evening was excellently chaired by Pam Ewen, Senior Planning Manager at Fife Council.

Thomas looked at how infrastructure could be funded through land value capture as happens elsewhere, necessitating amendment pf the Land Compensation (Scotland) Act 1961.

You can read a full report from the Centre for Progressive Capitalism on Bridging the Infrastructure Gap and Thomas has agreed to model what his proposal would mean for the Edinburgh City Region. BEFS will be sharing the report when ready.

Alastair attempted to unpick the Gordian knot of housing issues, focusing on how more homes could be delivered through a number of means, particularly through co-housing and self-build. He also looked at the transformative role technology is having in the fourth industrial revolution, in construction and potentially in planning.

The Q&A session that followed revealed an audience well versed in land and housing matters.

The following day Alastair and Thomas presented to civil servants from planning, architecture and housing divisions at Victoria Quay and to researchers and MSPs at the Scottish Parliament. BEFS is grateful to Andy Wightman MSP for hosting the latter even and it was encouraging to see cross party interest across the two days from national and local politicians. The audience for the topic was also diverse reflecting interests across heritage, volume housing building, landowners, architecture, planning, and both public and private sectors.

Was the housing nut cracked? Jemmied open, maybe. It needs political leadership to address the underlying land issues to make it affordable for individuals and communities to pursue alternative ways of providing homes in Scotland.