The NI Executive is developing a new strategic, Outcomes-based Programme for Government (PfG) and RSUA has responded to the Consultation on its content. RSUA supports the inclusion of a specific outcome in respect of housing, as included in New Decade, New Approach.
RSUA believes that everyone should have access to good quality housing and that we should take steps now to put policies in place to ensure that our young people can afford houses in the future. RSUA also believes we are in a unique place in Northern Ireland and can create models for housing which are affordable and will remain so in the future.
RSUA generally supported the outcomes proposed in the PfG. RSUA highlighted the importance of the quality of the physical built environment and the need to value rounded education, technical and creative skills, as well as academic achievement, suggesting the need to focus on the number of young people who see no future for themselves in Northern Ireland.
With respect to the outcome “We live and work sustainably – protecting the environment” RSUA supports the list of priority areas noting a number of immediate challenges in regard to wastewater management and active transport.
RSUA agrees with the objective of having an equal and inclusive society where everyone is valued and treated with respect, and highlighted growing representation of women in the profession (and within the building industry at management level). The response also suggested that a focus on gender and race, as well as sectarianism, would be beneficial.
RSUA supports the outcome of enjoying long, healthy, active lives, and argued for expanding policy priorities to achieve it, namely to focus more on the areas of access to health, mental health and well-being, older people, physical health and well-being, and healthy work environments (particularly post-COVID).
RSUA acknowledges the need for everyone to reach their potential and highlighted the cost of education as a barrier. RSUA believes that greater respect should be shown to those in low paid jobs.
RSUA noted that the local construction industry and the local architectural profession is also internationally competitive and regionally balanced, and exports goods and services to Great Britain, Ireland and beyond. Further support for low or near zero carbon initiatives would be valued. RSUA noted that the recent adoption of NZEB standards in housing has been substantially
token and not supported by any amendment to Building Regulation technical booklets.
On the outcome of “Everyone feels safe – we all respect the law and each other” RSUA again expressed its support, noting that crime levels can be significantly reduced by provision of well designed environments and quality housing, embodying ‘secured by design’ principles, but more importantly giving communities an environment in which they can take pride.
In order to achieve a caring society that supports people throughout their lives, RSUA suggested additional emphasis on issues relating to disability, housing, inclusion and diversity, mental health and well-being and older people.
On the final outcome “People want to live, work and visit here” RSUA expressed its strong support and believes the profession has much to contribute to the development of Northern Ireland as a quality place to live and work. RSUA notes a drain of skills and that attracting and retaining the right staff is a challenge to many businesses.
The full consultation response can be read here.