AN ambitious charter that puts homes at the heart of the North of England’s economic growth was launched in Parliament last week.
Homes for the North (H4N), an alliance of the 17 largest housing associations in the region, presented its charter, Rebalancing the Economy: Building the Northern Homes We Need, at the event hosted by Kevin Hollinrake MP.
The audience took in 30 MPs from across the political spectrum and from across the North, including the minister for the Northern Powerhouse and local growth, Jake Berry, and shadow housing secretary, John Healey.
“[W]e acknowledged in the Northern Powerhouse that it is all about human capital as well,” said Berry. “Crucially, human capital is about creating the homes that the North needs, and homes that people want to live in. And that is why I’m so pleased with the ambition of this report today.
“This report demonstrates what is at the heart of the Northern Powerhouse. It is about cooperation, and one of the most eye-catching things in this report is about creating that housing cooperation group across the North of England.”
The charter sets out four key asks that could help boost the northern economy:
- A regional housing target to build at least 50,000 homes per year in the North
- A requirement that local authorities in the North align their Local Industrial Strategies with housing supply plans
- The establishment of a powerful pan-Northern body charged with ensuring that housing and infrastructure are planned together over the long term
- A new type of ‘renewal deal’ between government, combined and local authorities, and housing associations that would focus on, combining existing investment streams in housing, transport, and local economic development
H4N, with Transport for the North (TFN) also used the event in Parliament to unveil plans for a major new research project, which will set out how out how strategic investment in housing can complement planned investment in transport and infrastructure, bringing major benefits for the Northern economy.
The research, which is being undertaken by a consortium led by economics consultancy the Centre for Economics and Business Research, is expected to be published in the summer. It will build on the Northern Powerhouse Independent Economic Review published in 2016, which revealed how pursuing the Northern Powerhouse vision could deliver a “transformational economic growth scenario”, including 1.5 million new jobs and an additional £97 billion in GVA by 2050.
“Previous research reveals that the North needs 500,000 homes over the next 10 years just to keep pace with current demand,” said Carol Matthews, chair of H4N. “A new approach is needed to get the good quality homes we need across the region. We hope that our Charter – and our work with Transport for the North – will provide the blueprint for achieving that potential. We look forward to working with central and local government to change and ensure that the north is the absolute best it can be.”
John Healey MP, shadow secretary of state for housing, added: “The housing crisis is a national crisis. Home-ownership has fallen across the north of England since 2010, and there is visibly rising homelessness in almost every town and city. Ambitious northern areas want to build for the future, but Ministers are making it harder for them to do that. I hope this research will bolster the case for more investment and more decent, affordable homes for the north of England.”
Main Image: (L-R): Kevin Hollinrake MP; shadow housing secretary John Healey MP; H4N chair Carol Matthews; and Jake Berry, minister for the Northern Powerhouse and local growth.