Public Statement

Homes England invests in Public Practice to support expansion, 4 February 2022

The funding will enable Public Practice to expand its support for local government beyond London, the South East and the East of England.

Homes England, the government’s housing delivery agency, and the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) are investing just over £200,000 in Public Practice, the social enterprise with a mission to build the public sector's capacity to improve places, to support the not-for-profit’s expansion across the country.

Public Practice plays a key role in supporting public sector authorities in London, the South East and the East of England to identify gaps in the capacity of planning and place shaping teams. The organisation then matches skilled candidates to yearlong placements with the Authority, which is supported by learning, development and knowledge sharing activity. Public Practice will use the investment to expand its programme to other parts of the country.

Homes England’s partnership with Public Practice is part of the work of its Local Government Capacity Centre, which is designed to increase local government capacity and skills to make better places and homes. It tackles head on the difficulty Local Authorities face in attracting and retaining built environment professionals and helps overcome this significant barrier to delivering high quality and sustainable places.

Peter Freeman, Chair of Homes England, says:

“Authorities throughout England have told us that skills and expertise shortages are some of the biggest barriers they face to make homes and communities happen. Public Practice has a proven model for bringing these vital skills from the private sector to local government.

“We set up the Local Government Capacity Centre to support just this kind of solutions-focused work, and I am confident that expanding Public Practice’s unique programme to areas outside of London and the South will make a real difference.”

Public Practice’s expansion will be supported by extensive consultation, liaison, and research with Authorities. This evidence will help shape the direction and approach for how Public Practice expands its unique programme nationally.

As a start, local government officers are invited to respond to Public Practice’s Local Authority Resourcing and Skills survey, which launches today. This is designed to build understanding of skills gaps and the impact that a lack of resources has on officers and their teams across England.

The partnership with Public Practice comes as the Local Government Capacity Centre wraps up its two-week long Winter Learning Programme, a series of knowledge sharing sessions aimed at Local Government officers.

Pooja Agrawal, Chief Executive, Public Practice, says:

Since October 2017, Public Practice has placed over 200 talented practitioners into place-shaping roles in over 50 Authorities in London, the South-East and the East of England, with the objective of improving the quality, equality and sustainability of places. This Seed-funding from Homes England, supported by DLUHC, will enable us to reach new places, work with new authorities and increase our impact throughout England. ”

“Over the last few years, public authorities have demonstrated a huge amount of resilience, but we know that they need support to access the skills, capacity and capabilities to meet their ambitions. The expansion of Public Practice’s unique programme will enable us to meet demand from Authorities across the country that are keen to bring diverse skills, backgrounds and experience in-house.”

“We believe that we need a diverse and cross disciplinary public sector to lead the way to create high quality and sustainable places for all people. Over 90% of people we have placed to date have come from outside the public sector, and over 90% of our alumni have continued to work in the public sector.”


About Homes England
Homes England is the Government’s housing delivery agency. We have the appetite, influence, expertise and resources to drive positive market change.  

Homes England welcomes partners who share our ambition to challenge the traditional norms and build better homes faster. For more information visit our home page or follow us on Twitter @HomesEngland.  

About Public Practice
Public Practice was founded as a social enterprise in October 2017, with a mission to build the public sector’s capacity to improve the quality, equality and sustainability of places. In just over 4 years it has placed 202 Associates in public authority planning and place-shaping roles in London, the South East and East of England. Public Practice Associates have provided specialist skills that have enabled the establishment of new capabilities and interdisciplinary approaches within place-shaping teams. These include architectural and urban design experts within Transport for London, securing high quality design principles across delivery projects; sustainability and landscape experts at Epping Forest District Council, developing sustainable policies to develop strategic sites in Harlow & Gilston Garden Town; and community engagement and digital skills in Greater Cambridge Shared Planning supporting the delivery of the digital Local Plan.

Public Practice’s programme has resulted in a long-term transfer of talent and expertise into the Public Sector. 92% of applications to Associate roles come from people currently working outside the public sector, and 90% of Public Practice Associates choose to continue working in the public sector following the conclusion of their year-long placement. Diversity and representation within cohorts of Public Practice Associates has consistently outperformed the built environment industry, for example, 64% of Public Practice Associates identify as female and 24% identify as having ‘Black Asian and Minority Ethnic’ heritage.


“The fundamental problems that have started to arise within our society - environmentally, economically, socially - can't be solved in the traditional ways. We really have to think differently. Councils, planning and placemaking can have a fundamental impact as we are designing, building and creating those places of the future. We have traditionally kept the same skill sets within planning departments and there is a huge need to increase diversity, from different points of view to different skill sets.

“The Public Practice model brings those diverse skills from the private sector, such as urban design, landscape and data and digital, but not as a consultancy piece but more as an extension of the team. They come into the council for a particular project or happen to stay even longer if they like it and they enjoy working in the sector. These things that are going to shift the bar and move us forward, we would never have been able to do without Public Practice.”

Paul Frainer, Assistant Director for Strategy and Economy, Greater Cambridge Shared Planning

Notes for Editors:

  • Public Practice is a social enterprise, launched in October 2017 with a mission to build the public sector’s capacity to improve the quality, equality and sustainability of places.
  • Public Practice has placed 202 Associates across 53 public Authorities in London, the South East and East of England.
  • 90% of placed practitioners have chosen to continue working in the public sector beyond the end of the 12-month programme (based on the first four cohorts).
  • 92% of applicants have applied from outside of the public sector (based on the 2,190 applications received to-date).
  • Those Authorities who have hosted a placement with Public Practice give a 9.4/10 NPS
  • Public Practice recruits roles to twelve discipline types, more information here.
  • Public Practice Associates have consistently outperformed the built environment industry in terms of diversity and representation (for example, 64% of Public Practice Associates identify as female and 24% identify as having ‘Black Asian and Minority Ethnic’ heritage). Public Practice is now looking to compare data to regional populations, more information in this blog.
  • Public Practice has support from the private, third and public sector including the Greater London Authority, Connected Places Catapult, Historic England, Berkeley Group, L&Q, Karakusevic Carson Architects, Dentons and RTPI.
  • A video case study on Public Practice in Greater Cambridge can be found here.
  • Image assets and further case studies can be downloaded in the media pack at the top of this page.