Housing, devolution and localities: Inventing a future or more of the same?


The conference was originally scheduled to take place in April however it has been postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. We now hope to hold the conference from 4th to 6th of November 2020 and this will be hosted at the Crowne Plaza, Sheffield, UK.  We will continue to monitor all government and Public Health England advice and update you with any further changes. The conference organisers have produced a FAQ document for those who were due to attend in April.


This conference will look at devolution in its broadest sense, meaning the transfer of decision-making powers between actors. It will question where the locus of decision-making is, and where it should be for housing-related issues. 

The challenges facing housing appear to be becoming more complex. This complexity has increased in terms of where the capacity for decision-making lies; within national governments, within devolved governments, at a regional level, or with local communities. It is also demonstrated in the widening set of issues facing both those who try and access social housing, and those who provide it. 

Many housing organisations now undertake a range of support roles such as employment support, digital education and wellbeing support, as well as diversifying business interests in order to meet these needs. In the UK, there is pressure on housing associations to remain viable organisations whilst at the same time ensuring access to secure and affordable housing for those who require it. The private sector remain the key actors in the provision of housing either in their role as developers or as landlords. The state has continued to support this growth through policies which fix housing as a key pillar of the UK economy.  

Drawing on research and analysis from within the UK and from overseas the event will focus on the locus of decision-making at various levels within the housing sector and asks whether a capacity for innovation enables the challenges faced by the housing market to be met more comprehensively. There are a number of arenas where this can be analysed including: devolution at a national level, devolution at a regional level, organisational decision-making, and community level organisation. 

Confirmed plenary speakers include:

  • Paul Dennett (Mayor of Salford City Council and Lead for Housing, Planning and Infrastructure in the Greater Manchester Combined Authority)
  • Dr Quintin Bradley (Leeds Beckett University) 
  • Tamsin Stirling (Independent researcher)
  • Prof. Peter Roberts (Chair of the Northern Ireland Housing Executive)
  • Jess Perera (Institute of Race Relations)
  • Andrea Gibbons (University of Salford)  
  • Prof. Mark Stephens (Heriot-Watt University)
  • Jim Ripley (Phoenix Housing)
  • Anne McGurk (Phoenix Housing)
  • Patricia McQuillan MBE (Moneydig Rural Network, Chair of Rural Residents Forum, Vice Chair of Central Housing Forum)
  • Colm McDaid (CEO Supporting Communities NI)

This conference will provide the space for academic researchers, practitioners, and those working in housing policy and related areas to reflect and debate on these issues. We particularly welcome papers which help to answer the following questions:

  • How far do national and regional settlements go in enabling cities to tackle issues of housing?
  • How is evidence being used to inform decision-making? Is devolution making people’s lives better? How are organisations responding to challenges within the housing sector?
  • How are communities changing as a result of devolved governance?
  • What new models of delivery have been adopted by communities as a result of devolution?
  • Do decision-making processes enable all individuals and communities who want to take part a chance for participation
  • How do devolved nations work together in addressing housing challenges?
  • Are individual nations creating their own identity in terms of their response to these challenges?
  • Within devolved governments, how does joint working across departments function in order to effectively tackle challenges for the housing sector?  

We also welcome papers which engage with questions and issues outside of these areas but which are of relevance to understanding housing and housing related theory, policy and practice.

The call for papers window has now closed. We will update this page in the coming months with more information about registration.

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