Women in Property Housing event 31 Jan 2023

By Shuahra Rahman

Set against a challenging backdrop of interest rate uncertainty, rises in energy costs, and a widespread cost-of-living crisis, Women in Property hosted a lively discussion at Evelyn Partners about the outlook for the housing market in 2023. As the event organiser, and Architect specialising in home extensions and reconfigurations, I enjoyed hearing from our panellists about a topic close to my heart – how to achieve affordable homes in liveable neighbourhoods.

Women in Property event

[From L to R : Shuahra Rahman, Alice Lamb, Jo McIvor WiP South East Chair, Lisa-Jane Risk, Helen Pickstock incoming WiP South East Chair]

An Experienced Panel

The panel was chaired by Jo McIvor (Property Partner Edwin Coe LLP & Women in Property South East Branch Chair) and featured RIBA President Simon Allford, Lisa-Jane Risk (TTL Properties), Alice Lamb (LandAid) and former DGLC Head of Architecture Andy von Bradsky.

The event saw an impressive number of attendees, including non-members, and their feedback was overwhelmingly positive, with many describing it as exceptional. The panel discussion was particularly well-received, being praised for its ability to stimulate thought and engagement. An interesting and timely discussion.

In discussing the question of how to address systemic inequalities in the housing sector, the panel looked at affordable housing and how to achieve more of it, the roles that private finance and the local authority purse have to play, the impact of infrastructure on housing, and the ESG levers that are dragging developments towards more environmental schemes.

The Challenges Ahead

Summing up, the panellists offered their view on the housing outlook in 2023. The lack of real affordable housing, access to land, Local Authorities empowered and resourced to bring forward schemes, and a perfect storm of economic pressures (withdrawal of help to buy, rising costs, costs of living, mortgage interest rate rises) shape the challenges facing the sector.

Opportunities identified by the panellists included, provision of more affordable housing, investing in infrastructure to connect London’s wealth to the reaches of the UK, taking advantage of the fact that housing is relatively high up the Sunak Government agenda and there’s a real opportunity to make 2023 the tipping point in changing how we deal with systemic social injustices in housing.

Creating Virtuous Circles is a Key Solution

My personal takeaway from the discussions is that there are clearly challenges to be faced, but we need to continuously question, evaluate, and create feedback loops to learn from each other. There are clever models that can tap into the environmental consciousness that has accelerated in recent years, and it’s important to explore these options to create virtuous circles.

I selected this topic because it is pertinent to the present and future state of the housing market, including trends in house prices, availability and interest rates. These factors can significantly impact homeowners, homebuyers, and professionals working in the housing industry including myself as an Architect.

Overall, with all the pressures on housing across the UK, not just in London, there’s an opportunity to rethink how we maximise existing housing stock. By that I mean upgrading and future-proofing our homes so that families can live comfortably in them for their lifetime in healthy neighbourhoods with green spaces and clean air.