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York to lead study of directly commissioned house building

Posted on 19 March 2015

Chancellor asks York research centre to carry out a major study into new development models.

New homes, new road, new suburb. Copyright Scrinary and licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-SA 2.0)

The Chancellor George Osborne announced in the Budget that a University of York research centre is to carry out a major study into a pioneering new programme aimed at addressing the chronic under-supply of new homes.

He has commissioned the Centre for Housing Policy (CHP) at York to carry out a feasibility study into an alternative model of house building delivery which allows public agencies to directly commission the building of homes. It means they assume responsibility for developing the land rather than facilitating large or smaller building concerns to do so. The aim is to double the rate of housing delivered to market by conventional development models.

The feasibility study, led by CHP Director Professor Becky Tunstall, will focus on the Northstowe development of former MOD land north of Cambridge, where 10,000 homes are planned. Phase 1 is going ahead using a conventional development model while Phase 2 will see the Government’s Homes and Communities Agency test direct commissioning of housing.

The study will involve a review of existing evidence and in-depth interviews with a range of industry representatives to explore what the attributes of successful and cost-effective directly commissioned models of house building should be, how any new models should be evaluated and implemented at scale as well as assessing if they represent value for money.

Professor Tunstall said: “The Centre for Housing Policy has many years of experience in evaluating new approaches to housing in the UK and abroad. Northstowe is a really interesting new development with potential advantages over standard building patterns. We are very pleased that the Government chose us to take forward this assessment of its effectiveness.”

The project also involves Dr Alison Wallace of CHP, and two housing consultants, Nigel Ingram and Deborah Heenan, both with extensive expertise in the field.

Further information:

  • For more information about the Centre for Housing Policy at the University of York, please visit

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