Last edited 05 Feb 2016

Questions for shadow minister

Read the interview here.

On 6th January 2016, Designing Buildings Wiki will be interviewing Labour's Shadow Housing and Planning Minister, Dr. Roberta Blackman-Woods.

Following our Corbyn-inspired 'call for questions' we have received several excellent questions already which are listed below. If you would like to suggest a question for us to ask, send us an email to or click 'Add a comment' at the bottom of the page.

[edit] Questions received:

1. For a number of years Britain seems to have been unable to deliver adequate housing for all its citizens - why is this and what will Labour do about it?

2. What is Labour going to do to remedy the skills gaps that exist so that the UK construction industry is able to deliver the new homes required and refurbish existing housing stock so that it is less energy intensive?

3. Many countries across the EU have a better record at delivering high quality and low energy homes - what is Labour going to do to learn from the experiences of other countries? Will they be looking at setting up exchange/ training scenarios to help with this?

4. Will Labour do something to try and curb uncontrolled rent and property prices in Britain? these are a particular problem in cities like London where they blight the life of many ordinary citizens and badly affect local economies since citizens have reduced expendable cash?

5. Other countries and cities in the EU have a much better regulated housing market and higher standards - what can Britain learn from them?

6. Why is the UK so insistent on attacking the poorest and most vulnerable members of society by de-stabilising their homes and security with the sell off and privatisation of local authority homes and introduction of 5 year lease plans? - wouldn't it make more sense for the UK to introduce better security of tenure for all rental tenants and learn from some of their more successful, larger and prosperous EU neighbours - who incidently also managed to avoid much of the severe impacts of the last sub-prime instigated bank crash?

7. Does the shadow housing minister think that if public money is used to fund research linked to delivery of housing and housing design then there should be a system to make sure that the money is properly accountable and that research produced with this funding used as part of a body of research to help the UK as a whole learn and progress?

8. If UK universities are prepared to fund research into housing delivery and design and into training the researchers who do this then does the shadow minister think that it would be a waste of government/public funding if newly trained researchers find that the universities or linked organisations do not support them with future career development?

9. Are Labour going to appoint a team of appropriately qualified people to advise on policy for housing and the built environment?

10. Why does the UK seem to only try and serve its richer rather than normal wage or poorer citizens in terms of provision of housing?

11. Why does the UK have one of the largest gaps in wealth between the rich and poor in the EU and major economies and what impact does this have on democratic governance and the provision of homes and stable living environments for the majority?

12. I recently studied and completed a PhD at a top London University - the theme of my research was why has the UK been slow at adopting the German low energy building design standard Passivhaus despite having been forerunners in this type of design together with the US in the 1970s - there were many answers but one of which was poor communications and management in the policy and built environment design sectors but also skills training - since completion of the PhD things have moved forwards a little bit in the UK but a lack of clear and coherent policy and investment look at slowing things again. How can labour make sure that skills and valuable research are not lost due to dramatic economic swings in the UK economy and maintain a continuity in quality of skills training that is comparable to many other EU countries?

13. I recently studied and completed a PhD at a top London University - I was researching in the field of low energy building design which includes for learning from feedback from built environment projects i.e how well do they actually work. During my research it became apparent that many of this university's and other UK universities' buildings were either not designed, procured or built with the best intentions to make them as energy efficient as possible - I drew some specific issues to the attention of the university where I was studying - these were initially ignored and then fobbed off and then I was treated with derision for having the audacity to question such things - why is this? and what can universities do better to make their expensive built environment stock as energy efficient as possible - after all lower running costs for fuel etc could help to reduce huge fees for students and set a good example for those studying built environment design including housing.

14. Has the shadow housing minister ever seen the seminal film 'Cathy Come Home' from Ken Loach - 1966 - I first saw this featured at a film festival in Berlin a couple of years ago - it made many of the members of the public comment about the current shoddy and sub-standard nature of UK housing and housing systems in comparison with many other EU and leading global economies

15. Will the shadow housing minister organise fact finding trips to other EU countries so that relevant policy makers can find out exactly how they manage to consistently deliver a better quality product than the UK?