What should developers do differently?
Get out of the way. Business as usual has taken us up a housebuilding cul-de-sac which is empirically failing to deliver the numbers and arguably failing in the areas of value, quality and innovation that would be expected from other mass market industries. We need to put power in to the hands of the people, the customers. ‘Let them build, club together, customize and fund. Let them choose.’ Developers can be the enablers and managers. There will always be a place for vision, for the risk-takers. Developers are great at sniffing out the plots, the opportunities. They know the markets; they can secure planning consents. The good ones know how to work with talented design teams to create place, and value. But they don’t always need to monopolise the building process. We need to see enabled land more as a platform, an enabled infrastructure that allows citizens individually, or as groups, to plug in and install the home of their choice – what it’s like, and who supplies it. The housing market could be turned upside down, and developers could make it happen.
John was the client for Somerleyton Road, a 300-home scheme in Brixton for Lambeth Council where Metropolitan Workshop is lead architect and masterplanner and now the client for Oakfield, a 250 Suburban housing scheme in Swindon for Nationwide Building Society.
John Long, Development Director, Head of London Projects, Igloo.