Our collective experience and expertise covers the full spectrum of disciplines in the development of social and affordable housing. Here you can read academic papers by members of our team.

The number of women on HA Boards and whether there is any correlation between individual's perceptions of barriers or opportunities of women to progress their careers with in this sector due to their gender
Claire Crook LLB (Hons) ACMI

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Claire Crook is currently studying for a MSC in Corporate Governance at London Southbank University. Having completed all the examinable modules, Claire is now embarking on a dissertation considering the number of women on HA Boards and whether there is any correlation between individual's perceptions of barriers or opportunities of women to progress their careers with in this sector due to their gender.

The Higgs Review of the role and effectiveness of non-executive directors (January 2003) highlighted the importance of board diversity for more effective boards, something that has been reflected in subsequent UK Corporate Governance Codes. The next version of the Code due to be published in 2012 will place a greater emphasis on gender diversity and diversity policies following the Women on Boards Report led by Lord Davies in 2011.

The Davies Report highlighted the fact that the number of female directors in FTSE 350 companies was woefully low and presented a number of recommendations to improve the situation. The report identified that at the current rate of change it would take 70 years to achieve ‘gender balanced boardrooms in the UK's largest companies’ (Davies Report, 2011, p. 3). Other researchers have identified similar patterns in the US and in Europe and have also identified different trends in different industry sectors (Arfken et al, 2004; Bilimoria, 2006, Brammer et al, 2007, 2009; Singh et al, 2008). Brammer et al, 2007 also identify that there is greater gender diversity in those sectors with a ‘close proximity to final consumers’.

Indeed, Singh and Terjesen in 2008 posit that the public sector is more likely to be influenced by political will than the private sector (Singh and Terjesen, 2008). In addition, there have also been considerations of barriers to entry to women aspiring to board appointments and/or senior management positions (Oakley, 2000; Bilimoria and Zelechowski, 2004; Singh and Vinnicombe, 2004). A key problem being the lack of women in the pipeline or , as described by Fergusson and Reeve in 2012 as ‘the relative dearth of female senior executives’ (Fergusson and Reeve, 2012 Progress Made, further to go Chartered Secretary May 2012) Given these lines of research it should follow that Housing Association (HA) boards show greater gender diversity to the public sector based on their proportion of female employees, their proximity to their final consumer, the likelihood they are more likely to be influenced by political will and less barriers to entry for women to be appointed to senior positions and/or the Board.

The purpose of this research is to establish whether there are any similarities in gender diversity on boards between the public sector and private sector and to survey participants associated with the Housing Association sector to determine what, if any, are the barriers to entry and how these differ to the private sector. The results of this research could be used to assist the private sector in implementing policies to increase gender diversity on boards. The private sector has been studied extensively with regard to Board diversity whilst the public sector research has received less focus.

A questionnaire for colleagues in the sector is available on Google Docs. All responses are wholly confidential and participants are not asked to provide identifying personal details beyond some information for statistical purposes only.

Empty Homes vs. New Build: A comparative evaluation of the cost and sustainability factors influencing housing provisions in Thanet, Kent
Natalie Bonner BSc (Hons)

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The paper provides a detailed insight as to why long term vacant properties should be reused and the benefits that may be gained against new build developments. The main focus of the topic is to evaluate and compare the cost and sustainability factors of reusing against new build and the effect each has in terms of cost and sustainability and comprises research into the benefits of reusing empty properties compared to development of new build homes.

Incentives for reusing empty properties are identified and their effectiveness evaluated through Case studies and interviews.

Findings show that there is little comparison between the two housing provisions. However there are important benefits created through reuse, for the local community and economy.

Enabling Autism: The Design of Educational Environments for Children on the Autistic Spectrum
Michael Garnett BAS

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Autism is becoming increasingly recognised through exposure in the media and has become a popular subject of discussion. However, the common theme of these discussions focuses mainly on the causes of autism, and possible solutions for dealing with the growing numbers of individuals diagnosed with the disorder.

As we are becoming more informed about autism and how physical environments can affect people with the condition, our time is better spent concerning ourselves with the conditions of the environments in which they live and learn beyond the home.

The aim of this paper is to suggest a design brief development methodology that can aid the design of enabling educational environments for autistic children. Through studying Autism one can begin to identify characteristics that architects and designers will be most interested in, such as the heightened sensory experience and resistance to change that autistic people commonly display.

This relationship between architecture and autism emphasises the responsibility of architects and designers to respond to these characteristics, and that the conception of a methodology for doing so is essential.

Whether the requirements for renewable energy leads to reduced volumes of social housing in the UK
Annette Tetlaw BSc (Hons)

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The aim for the paper was to gather experts’ opinions to investigate whether the requirements for renewable energy leads to reduced volumes of social housing in the UK. The paper explores government policies and London council objectives in regards to renewable energy in Affordable housing.

The secondary research of the paper centres on the 6 renewables energies as mentioned in the London Renewables toolkit produces by London Energy Partnership, which are; Photovoltaics, Solar Hot Water, Ground Source heat pumps, Wind Turbines, Biomass heating and Biomass combined heat and power.

Questionnaires were sent out to industry professionals as primary research to establish their ideas of renewables in social housing as questionnaires were sent out as part of the research. The findings show that Photovoltaics and Solar Hot Water are used most in social housing and that professionals believe that these are the most appropriate for housing due to initial cost, payback period and ease of maintenance.

While the findings show that experts do not believe renewable energy leads to reduced volumes of Social Housing in the UK, it does show that professionals are divided whether they/their client would provide renewable energy if it was not a requirement.