Housing professionals from the private, public and social sectors attending the first ever Business South Housing Summit, have given their backing to a Housing Manifesto for the Central South.

The gathering of house builders, developers, architects and housing officers from councils across the Central South region discovered there was plenty of common ground and a need to further develop a collective voice.

Mark Perry, CEO of VIVID, a leading provider of affordable homes and extensive support services in the south of England, chairs the Business South Housing Group and was the host for the summit.

He said: “We wanted the Housing Summit to be the start of a conversation about housing in the Central South region.  Continuing to address the housing shortage and build more affordable homes, which are needed more than ever given the current situation.

“It’s clear that if we are really going to make a difference, we need to have a more joined up approach with everyone from social housing providers, house builders, the build to rent sector, local authorities and other housing professionals coming together with a stronger voice.”

Hamish Simmie, Associate Director Residential Research at Savills, got the day underway by looking at the current housing picture for the region and nationally.

Housing professionals from local authorities in Southampton, Portsmouth, Havant, Test Valley, New Forest, Fareham, East Hampshire and Rushmoor then shared what the housing picture looked like from their point of view.

Robin Shepherd, from Barton Willmore said conversations like the ones being held at the Housing Summit would help to identify where the common ground was and added that lack of available land was as much a political issue as it was a technical one.

A major new piece of research commissioned by VIVID was presented by Andy Lymer, Director of Centre for Personal Financial Wellbeing, Aston University and Sarah Phillips, Head of Strategic Affairs, at VIVID.

The extensive study was conducted throughout the pandemic and the results mirrored how people now feel differently about their homes.

“Homes have gone from the place you return to after a day at work to the centre of everything.

“The link between well-being and value for money is critical to understanding affordability,” said Andy.

He added that it was clear from the research that the issue was not just about building more but building better homes

Mark Woodrow, Joint MD of Packaged Living, presented on the role the Build to Rent sector can play and how it could be part of the solution in the Central South.

He highlighted schemes that his company is currently involved in delivering including the Maritime Gateway development which is part of the Mayflower Quarter in Southampton.

He explained the Build to Rent (BTR) concept was huge in America and in Houston alone there are more BTR homes than we have in the UK as a whole.

‘Generation Rent’ is a growing phenomenon, he said, and the number of 35-44 year-olds choosing BTR has grown to 30% compared to 17% just a decade ago.

The morning of discussion culminated in the launch of the Housing Manifesto for the Central South.

“Collectively in the room we are responsible for the quality of the homes that will be going up in the Central South in the coming years.

“A Housing Manifesto would give the region a powerful voice to be able to lobby and influence and we would like everyone present today to give their support,” he said.

A unanimous show of hands proved there was support for a collective voice and over the next 6-9 months the Business South Housing Group will work hard to deliver a document that would represent the views of the region, he said.

Leigh-Sara Timberlake, CEO of Business South, said: “There was such a lot of energy in the room today and there is clearly an appetite for seeing what can be done to clear the blockages that currently exist so that we can have the homes that people need if the Central South is to thrive.”