Well... it's a good thought, Ross. A very good thought. And the UKR Business Plan (our audacious aspiration to deliver 20,000 homes by 2020) intends to do just that. Homes with jobs as closely associated with them as can be achieved (although as Dr Evans keeps observing, with some amusement, we're not going down the road of tied cottages!). And there is much interest in our homes-with-economic-growth formula. I am delighted to be addressing an august gathering of the Association of Chief Estates Surveyors on this very subject next week (10 May) in Barnsley, and I hope to see a goodly few of you there. It's a long time since I've been to Barnsley.
But I was distracted. I was sitting next to the lovely David Shaw of the Crown Estate (you know, he told me those were his OWN glittery platform boots he was wearing in that Ziggy Stardust anniversary photo shoot in Heddon Street the other day!) who had just lost the lens from his specs, and we thought it (the lens) had gone into my handbag. So we were frantically rummaging through the bag, like a pair of old girls at the Bingo, when Mr Cassidy inquired as to my view as to why housing didn't play more of a role in regeneration projects across the capital..."why is that Jackie, do you think, particularly now?". A big subject, I think you'll agree. I spluttered a bit, reluctantly relinquished the search for the lens, and said I was a bit of an imposter these days as my main thrust was in rebalancing the economy, actually, away from London and the South East (and that I spent most of my time in Nottingham), but that the harsh fact remains that there is a real problem with institutional funding for the PRS, and most of the other models are moribund.
Ben Derbyshire, the guru, later rather brilliantly described this as the "Gordian knot strangling off London's housing stock", which was a much more urbane observation. Marc Vlessing of Pocket Homes followed this with THE most authoritative analysis, as ever. But for me (in my preoccupied maternal mode, clucking and squawking) the hero of the hour was John Barrow of Populous, who leapt across the room in front of 50 people having spied the missing lens nearly scrunched under the table leg. And the specs were fixed, and order restored. I mean I couldn't have let David Shaw go off, on "the blink" so to speak! Needless to say, much hilarity ensued.
Not quite as much, though, as when Tony Travers said, in some exasperation: "You know, people are always asking me 'why can't London be more like Copenhagen, with its bicycles?' and my answer has to be 'look, Copenhagen is the size of Croydon'" to which Peter Rees piped up from the other side of the room, quick as you like, "well why can't Croydon be more like Copenhagen then?". And we all roared of course. Michael Cassidy himself followed up with the tale of an eminent property developer who once described San Francisco to him as "Camden with trees".
It was fun. I learn a lot. And London isn't comparable to Stockholm or to Copenhagen. Or to San Francisco. Nor to Manchester or Glasgow, for that matter.