IPPR North today published a report entitled: Closer to Home, which sets out the housing challenges that the new ‘Metro Mayors’ set to take charge of regions such as Greater Manchester, the West Midlands, and Liverpool City Region will face when they are elected for the first time in May 2017.
The report states that unless significant powers over planning and housing are handed to new mayors, the government risks missing its house building target and repeating the problems seen in the capital, where successive mayors have lacked sufficient powers to address housing issues.
There are not enough brownfield sites to meet the government’s new homes target, as evidenced by research in the report that shows:
• The North West has brownfield capacity for 166, 211 homes and a long-term need of 263, 168 new homes
• In Yorkshire and Humber, there is brownfield capacity for 71, 555 homes and a need for 271, 602 homes
• In the North East, there is brownfield capacity for 44, 407 homes and a need for
115, 025 homes
• In the West Midlands, there is brownfield capacity for 66,635 homes and a need for 266, 391 homes
Although the government has devolved some powers to local councils such as the ability to integrate new housing with other infrastructure projects, the report says these do not go far enough. It argues that the following powers should be devolved:
• Control over the greenbelt, so mayors can potentially allow development on strategic parts of this – in consultation with local residents
• Handing mayors Stamp Duty proceeds from new-build homes as an incentive to increase supply
• The ability to put levies on empty homes
The report also advocates that mayors should have to set out how they will overcome the challenges they face in terms of identifying and releasing sites for development, speeding up the planning system for developers, and making it easier for small and medium-sized developers to get involved in major projects.
Charlotte Snelling, report author and researcher at IPPR, said: “The last thing we need is the new wave of Mayors facing a London-style housing crisis. Government should devolve powers and mayors must set out exactly how they will help the government meet its housing targets.”
Ed Cox, director of IPPR North, added: “Brownfield land is limited, and it is best decided locally how to meet local housing needs. This includes difficult decisions about the greenbelt. If the government is serious about its One Nation credentials in expanding home ownership, it should remember radicals like the revolutionary Birmingham mayor Joseph Chamberlain and let city-regions really take back control.”