Tensions and future prospects for sustainable housing growth. A case study of Northamptonshire and Milton Keynes

Jan 2012 - Dec 2013

The Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) has awarded a research grant to Prof Allan Cochrane (Social Policy and Criminology, Open University) as Principal Investigator, to work with Dr Bob Colenutt (University of Northampton) on a project entitled 'Tensions and future prospects for sustainable housing growth. A case study of Northamptonshire and Milton Keynes'. The project will run from 1 January 2012 to 31 December 2013. Dr Martin Field (University of Northampton) is Research Officer on the project.

The project examines the challenges and tensions associated with new housing growth in South Central England. It is concerned with the complex relationships between local communities, government agencies and the house building industry, at a time of market and public policy uncertainty. Using the Milton Keynes/Northamptonshire area as the laboratory, the project investigates the tensions and debates about new housing developments in three periods: before the slow down in the housing market, during the property crash period, and during the current period of slow growth, public expenditure reductions and radical changes in Government planning and housing policy.

Using reports and documents (such as local newspapers and planning reports) and interviews with local authorities, developers and community leaders, the research aims to find out how attitudes to new housing among local policy makers have changed, why some areas find it acceptable and some do not. The research will also examine changes in support for sustainable development. Sustainability was a much publicised objective of the previous government, with the promise to create 'sustainable communities' through better urban design (including low carbon buildings), community based planning and improved public transport.

A central aspect of the research is that it will not only look backwards to the pre-recession period and the property crash, but will follow the story in 'real time', i.e. as it happens over the two years of its life.