In this blog, Richard Hyde explains his motivations for setting up Thinkhouse, a new web library showcasing evidence on how to increase the amount and quality of the UK’s housing stock.
This spring, along with colleagues from across the housing sector, I launched a new website Thinkhouse.org.uk. The site is designed to give those responsible for housing policy making, whether in national/local government or on the Boards of developers or housing associations, easy access to the best and most innovative thinking. We have created a web library of research papers, policy publications and case studies all of which propose ways to increase the amount and quality of the UK’s housing stock and the related economic, social and community benefits of doing so.
The original idea was prompted by my desire, as a non-executive director on the Board of the national housing and regeneration agency (the Homes and Communities Agency), to be able to access external expertise on the issues being discussed at Board meetings. I felt this would help me provide more effective scrutiny within the organisation and started collecting relevant reports. In discussions with board members, and others with similar roles, it became clear that there was wider demand for this kind of library, and so, Thinkhouse was born.
Thinkhouse is curated by an independent Editorial Panel, which includes Gavin Smart who is on the HSA Committee, leading housing Chief Executives and other respected figures from the sector. They have been recruited to provide the cross sector experience and insight that will help in selecting the publications that are the most innovative and have the greatest resonance with policy makers. The Panel will also review the reports and develop and publicise Thinkhouse. The site is structured so that a user can access the curated papers within a couple of clicks. Thinkhouse has no ties to or funding from any interest group and is politically neutral. Our overriding goal is to showcase and share the best and most innovative thinking to create a useful resource for policy and decision makers within the housing sector
When we receive new reports, they are initially placed in the repository section of the site. The Editorial Panel will then review and assess which pieces of research will be showcased in the annual headline sections. Our Editorial panel aim to identify a ‘top ten’ of ‘must reads’ for those engaged in housing policy. This helps ensure that the site is an easy and accessible way for our target audience to pinpoint reports that are relevant to what they are doing or working on but can also help widen and deepen their understanding of what is possible. This is captured in our four guiding principles below.
To help us achieve our aims it is vital that we hear about new work that sheds light on how we can increase the amount and quality of the UK’s housing stock and the related economic, social and community benefits of doing so. Thinkhouse will help ensure that this work reaches an audience that can take the ideas and research and use them to make a difference.
We are therefore keen to deepen and strengthen our links with the academic world in two key ways. First, we would welcome expressions of interest in joining the panel to help us select and review the papers that are submitted. Second, we would very much like to hear from academics and researchers about forthcoming publications that meet the key objectives noted above. You can submit these to Thinkhouse via [email protected] or our twitter account @thinkhouseinfo. We are interested in research, written in a way that engages non-academics and which sheds light on the issues that policy makers and those managing landlords and developers find the most challenging.
We hope that this short blog is the start of a close working relationship with the Housing Studies Association.
Richard Hyde, July 2017.
Thinkhouse.org.uk – four guiding principles:
- Evaluation of the latest ideas. The Editorial Panel will select the pieces and provide an independent review.
- Convenience of having the best reports all in one place that is easy to access.
- Sharing, Thinkhouse will be reaching out to as many housing policy makers and practitioners as possible.
- Inspiring, we hope we will be the catalyst for more debate and more ideas and so make a positive difference to the national challenge of building more and better homes and the related economic, social and community benefit of doing so.