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RICS India Affordable Housing Conference, 'a very interesting and enjoyable day' says Stuart Woodward of Levvel
1 December 2010

The RICS India conference, 'Practical Solutions for Delivery of Affordable Housing', took place yesterday. Levvel were International Knowledge Partners and Levvel Managing Director Stuart Woodward was guest speaker on the topic of housing policy and strategy, presenting his experience of UK and European housing, and in particular the affordable housing market.

The conference was opened by the very special guest, Kumari Selja, Honorable Minister of Housing & Urban Poverty Alleviation (MoHUPA) and Minister of Tourism, Government of India. 'For a large developing nation like India struggling to keep pace with growing urbanization, informal settlements and growing shortage of affordable houses, we do need to constantly find innovating solutions and discover better practices. Rajiv Awas Yojna would emphasize on these innovative solutions and encourage various kinds of private projects in partnerships. Housing deficit cannot be addressed by budgetary support alone; we have to rope in the private sector to mobilize private investments in affordable housing. I invite all the stakeholders, particularly the banks, financial institutions and the real estate sector to come forward to make use of the opportunities provided by our schemes and work hand-in-hand to make a lasting impact in solving India's housing challenge,' said the Minister.

The format of the conference then moved to speeches from invited guests, including the international housing experts, Libby Seifel, President of Seifel Consulting in San Francisco and Stuart Thomas, Director of Terra Housing Consultants in Vancouver along with Stuart Woodward of Levvel.

Topics covered included sustainable communities, which was illustrated by Libby with four case studies of current regeneration projects taking place in the City of San Francisco, including Missionary Bay and Treasure Island.

Stuart Thomas from Terra used Canada as a case study, to demonstrate the evolution of housing finance, through public and private funding, the development of cooperatives and through to modern day with mixed use projects currently underway in Vancouver.

Stuart Woodward's presentation was on the topic of 'Planning policy
and housing strategies', and focused on the evolution of affordable housing in the UK and Europe from the second world war, to today. Demonstrating the success of council housing in the UK, the path to non-profit making housing associations and the danger of too high a level of home ownership in a recession.

The conference included workshop sessions, one chaired by Stuart from Levvel, on the housing policy topic, which produced some very interesting differences of opinions between policy makers and private developers.

'The whole idea behind the conference was practical solutions', said Stuart Woodward, 'too many conferences are merely a repeat of the same ideas and nothing changes. The RICS here in India have taken the lead in the topic of affordable housing, in a country that has the most extreme of problems. The affordable housing market and the idea of housing associations as we know them in the UK and Europe is new to India, as is the idea of private investment in affordable housing or buy-to-let. I am very pleased and honoured to have been involved and invited to pass on my experiences.'

'One day just isn't enough to talk about our ideas for India. The conference attendees had many positive and interesting ideas, and I hope my experience and that of my fellow international experts, Libby and Stuart can help India formulate a strong policy framework, at Government and State level, and implement the most effective building programme possible. The numbers in India are huge, but that should signal great opportunity, to both developers and the public sector.'

'I do hope to be able to offer my experience further in India. We met so many interesting and motivated people at the conference who were interested in the content of our presentations.'

The RICS india published a research report at the conference with international case studies and research from the international experts, titled 'Making affordable housing work in India'.

Speaking at the conference, Mr. Sachin Sandhir, Managing Director and Country Head, RICS India said, 'The objective of this report is to look at International best practices, to see what has worked in other parts of the world and what enabling strategies Governments have used to improve housing markets along with the examples of good work that has happened in India, so as to determine what partnership models, schemes and incentives would actually work for India. Based on discussions at the conference today, RICS will be submitting key recommendations for consideration by the Ministry of Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation.

Stuart finished by adding 'many thanks to Sachin and his team at the RICS for inviting us, taking the initiative and presenting affordable housing as a positive way to markets who are understandably cautious.'

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V Radical changes needed for UK private rented sector - Sir Adrian Montague's review ...
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V The States of Jersey - Affordable homes 'not a pipedream' ... more >>
Levvel were chosen as International Knowledge Partner by the RICS India. Stuart Woodward, Managing Director of Levvel attended the conference titled 'Practical Solutions for Delivery of Affordable Housing' which took place in New Delhi.

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Stuart Woodward, Managing Director of Levvel International is available for conference speaking.
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