Edge Debate 82: Spirit of Stevenage

Monday, March 19th, 2018 | Debates

new-town2We have all been to a lot of housing debates where it all seems a bit intractable. The Edge felt the need to try something different…
The last great housing crisis was after the war. More than a market solution was needed and we got the iconoclastic 1947 Planning Act.

We have another great crisis that does not look like it is going to get solved by market forces alone. What should we do if we really believe providing enough houses at prices people can afford is not just a priority but the basis of future prosperity and stability?

Our debate imagined that the PM asked this question and created a task force to go away think the unthinkable – what would be today’s equivalent of the 1947 Planning Act?
We had a panel of experts, led by Gary Younge of the Guardian and son of Stevenage. We know what the market solution is and we can imagine what an extreme position might be. What we wanted from our panel is something between, unthinkable in terms of today’s politics, but nevertheless possible at a stretch and perhaps even practical.

Gary played the part of the cabinet minister charged with preparing The Plan and the audience the experts convened to offer ideas and criticism for the emerging policy to be presented to the Cabinet. The debate asked not whether ideas are unthinkable, but whether they are not unthinkable enough, or are they just too unthinkable. The debate was about finding workable, if, for some, unpalatable, escape routes from our current predicament.

• Gary Younge, The Guardian

• Matt Leach, Chief Executive, Local Trust
• Nick Corbyn, Senior Development Manager, Land Securities
• Stuart Andrews, National Head of Planning & Infrastructure Consenting, Eversheds
• Vicky Pryce, Board member, Centre for Economics and Business Research (Cebr)
• Tom Mann, Director Residential Development, Savills
• Andrew Screen, Managing Director, Trade Risks Ltd
• Frances Coppola, Sheffield University

Eversheds Sutherland
1 Wood Street, London EC2V 7WS

The debate was run by the Edge and Eversheds.

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Debate notes will be posted shortly.

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