The Glass-House was invited by the Home Builders Federation, (a body representing the home building industry in England and Wales) to facilitate a roundtable discussion on the implications of the Localism Act for community engagement in housing development.

Project date: 2012

The Story

The Localism Act of 2011 brought new powers and new expectations for local people engaging with design, planning and development in their area. For many in the housing development industry, the new rights of communities to develop neighbourhood plans meant that house builders would have to think differently about how they engaged with people in the areas in which they wanted to build new homes.

The roundtable brought together representatives from a number of volume house builders to explore the implications of the the new legislation, and also to have a broader conversation on the opportunities and challenges of local engagement processes.

At the roundtable, we considered different interpretations of the terms stakeholders and community, and the role that local government, local councillors and elected members played as gatekeepers or connectors to the people who live and work in an area.

We looked at the opportunities presented by neighbourhood plans, and explored how housebuilders could work with local groups to develop neighbourhood plans that embraced and helped guide development and growth, while meeting local needs and aspirations.

We also explored the role of good design in successful house building and placemaking, and the role of engaging of local people in these processes. Some house builders present shared their progress in embedding the value of design quality in their companies, and the positive impact this was having on their business.

Through the discussion we encouraged a more collaborative approach to working with local people to create high quality homes and great places.


One of the key points that emerged from the discussion was that engaging well with local people was not only the right thing to do, but that it made good business sense.

By sharing and reflecting on their own experiences of where engagement had gone well, or not so well, participants were able to collectively identify clear economic drivers behind effective engagement.

Following the discusssion, we invited one of the participants, Roy Donson, of Barratt Developments Plc, to join the panel of our 2012 Debate, ‘What value do local people bring to placemaking?’ in Leeds on 21 November 2012.


Debate, ‘What value do local people bring to placemaking?’ in Leeds on 21 November 2012.