HQN blog: The second coming – John Healey is back with a fantastic housing green paper

John was in charge of housing in the dark days of the last Labour government. It was a grim time as the credit crunch put paid to everything. Grant Shapps came in and told us all he would do a better job. What happened to him? He just made matters worse.

Well today we found out what John has been up to. He’s been working hard to put it right if he gets another go in the hot seat. I’ve not read such an uplifting paper on housing for years.

It brings in a lot of the things we asked for in our paper in January. We are now heading in the right direction. Keeping tenants safe is the top priority. They’ll get a new body to boost their interests. It’s not healthy that the NHF and G15 are the only well-funded voices. So, we needed a shake-up. And there will be a ban on skimming off tenants’ cash to bankroll vanity projects. This is great to see. But no one can take any pleasure from it. People died for this.

I really like that he boots out sectarianism. There is a big role for councils and associations. John is shrewd; we need everyone pulling the right way.

What’s the best idea in the Green Paper? We’re going to get a chief architect for affordable housing. Now you’re talking. Back in the day at Camden we had the great Sydney Cook as our top architect. There is a new book out that celebrates his work. The RIBA review says it is “…the definitive account of a brief period in London’s architectural history when mass housing was not driven by economic agendas but by social, spatial and aspirational ones.” Get in. It’s one hell of a serve by Healey. Can Raab return it? We will see.

By Alistair McIntosh, HQN Chief Executive

Members can download a copy of Labour's 'Housing for the Many' Green Paper from the HQN resources page here.