Scottish Cities Alliance and University of Glasgow host European Housing Partnership

October 2nd 2017

At a time when we seem to be talking of little else but Brexit and the UK’s departure from the European Union, it may surprise some to learn of a unique gathering which took place in Glasgow last week.

Hosted by the Scottish Cities Alliance, around 30 delegates from all over Europe met in Glasgow last week to attend the 8th meeting of the European Housing Partnership (EHP). One of 12 partnerships set up almost two years ago under the EU’s new Urban Agenda, the housing partnership’s main objective is to explore ways in which the supply of affordable housing might be increased throughout Europe, and poor quality housing improved, thereby ensuring decent living conditions for all European citizens.

The first EHP session took place in the historic setting of the University of Glasgow, where participants heard of progress on research conducted on the barriers to increasing the supply of affordable housing throughout Europe, and how those may be overcome, including examples of policy innovation which can potentially be shared with EHP members. Professor Ken Gibb lead on the research looking at developed European countries, while Dr. Jozsef Hegedus from the University of Budapest undertook a similar project for the newer EU member states of Eastern Europe.

The Scottish Cities Alliance played a key role in securing funding for the research from the EU. It is hoped that the results will help inform the forthcoming EHP Action Plan, which will not only be a key output of the partnership over its three year timeframe but hopefully provide tangible benefit to Scottish cities in the form of future policy innovation and other opportunities.

As part of the EHP's programme a civic reception was held for the EHP in Glasgow City Chambers, offering an opportunity for Scottish City Leaders and housing officers from across the Alliance partners to meet with housing experts from across Europe and share their experience in delivering affordable housing. During a session held at the iconic Lighthouse Building the EHP heard about the Joint Housing Delivery Plan for Scotland, through which our national housing priorities are established and monitored. David Bookbinder Chair of the Glasgow & West of Scotland Forum of Housing Associations informed the delegates about the role and achievements of our community based housing associations. The delegates also learned something of the role of Scotland’s cities in housing planning and delivery, in the form of a presentation from Patrick Flynn, Head of Housing and Regeneration Services at Glasgow City Council who spoke about the city’s housing and regeneration strategy. Finally, there was an opportunity for the EHP to visit the Commonwealth Games village in the east of Glasgow to see first-hand the legacy of the games in terms of enabling the provision of sustainable affordable housing and infrastructure.

The UK’s future relationship with the EU post Brexit remains to be seen, however everyone involved in the European Housing Partnership hope and believes that the dialogue established with Scotland through the partnership will continue. The challenges of affordable housing shortage and poor housing conditions are universal, and the principle of knowledge exchange on “what works” will always be valuable. Brexit or no Brexit!

Jim Hayton

Housing Policy Adviser

Scottish Cities Alliance

Email : jim.hayton@scottishcities.org.uk

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