Leeds conference will put homes at the heart of Northern growth

Angel of the North (Demo)

The North is coming home

A major conference in Leeds will hear the evidence and discuss the case for putting homes at the heart of the Northern Powerhouse’s growth agenda

Homes for the North Conference 2019

14 November 2019 Hilton Leeds City

Putting Homes at the Heart of Northern Growth



Homes for the North Conference 2019

The conference will be looking at the hurdles and the barriers we face, the challenges we must overcome, but it will also present the solutions

THE North has a lot to say for itself and lately it’s taken to voicing its demands in an ever-more confident and – crucially – collective manner; no longer prepared to accept a sidelined position in the nation’s affairs. About time, too.

Across the spectrum of leadership – in politics, town halls, transport, business and more – the North is working together as never before, to forge the case for making the Northern Powerhouse more than just a politician’s slogan.

The housing sector in our part of the world is no different; its chiefs are also mustering to make the case for a North that has much greater authorship of its fate, as a one-day conference in Leeds next month will testify.

Homes for the North (H4N), in association with Housing Executive magazine, is hosting a prestigious line-up of speakers (see below) with luminaries such a Lord Kerslake, chair of the UK2070 Commission; John Cridland, chair of Transport for the North; Paul Dennett, Salford city mayor; not to mention leading lights from the North’s housing sector.

A mix of keynote speeches, panel discussions, and breakout sessions will explore the hot topics affecting our region. Yes, it will be looking at the hurdles and the barriers we face, the challenges we must overcome, but it will also present the solutions, backed by evidence that leaves little doubt of our regions’ clout. Given the right tools, the North can live up to the powerhouse and put its full weight behind the push for national growth.

Housing has a big role to play, of course, but it can’t do it in isolation. The conference theme is simple enough: putting homes at the heart of Northern growth. It’s not a simple matter of just building the homes, though; nor even a matter of identifying the right type of housing in the right place, although both are clearly essential factors.

No, there’s the question of investment; a matter of infrastructure. The North needs new homes, to meet existing demand, but also to accommodate future demand born of growth. These homes can’t fulfil their purpose without the facilities to support them, or the transport links that bind them together as living places, that can thrive economically, socially, and culturally.

Backing the North
Backing the North

That essential symbiosis is a core part of the conference theme. As H4N said in The Role of Housing in the Northern Powerhouse, released earlier this year, the North of England needs an extra two million new homes by 2050. The report argues that housing must be integrated into the wider picture of economic regeneration; joined up with planning for infrastructure and transport. This means a pan- Northern strategic approach. Key themes include:

  • Housing will be a key enabler, alongside transport and skills, in unlocking Northern economic and social potential and therefore needs to be recognised as essential infrastructure
  • Housing supply is “inelastic” and is therefore slow to react to changing economic circumstances. This means the ‘predict and provide’ approach to planning should be replaced by an approach that is like Transport for the North’s approach to planning the future transport system, based on ‘vision and validate’
  • More and better housing is needed if the planned transport investment is to fully unlock the economic potential of the North. That means a shift to a higher skilled, more productive economy
  • Transport investment increases the range of choices available for meeting emerging strategic housing needs. This includes unlocking new housing but also better linking existing housing to areas with high quality employment opportunities

The report notes: “Failing to provide the right housing in the right places will inhibit economic growth. A strong local housing offer is critical to attract and retain highly skilled workers. History has shown that housing will not ‘follow’ high pace growth organically, and markets have failed to deliver until prices have risen and affordability suffered. Government intervention to correct housing market failures over many decades proves that housing should not be treated as an afterthought.”

Need is one thing; the means to satisfy it are quite another. The North tends to get rather shrift when it comes to central government allocation of resources, as this and further examples of H4N’s research examines.

In September, H4N published its latest research. The title is something of a mouthful – The Changing Spatial Distribution of Housing Investment 1998-2022: Impact & Implications for the North – but its findings leave something of a sour taste, it must be said.

Essentially, the North is being starved of resources: over the last 20 years, the share of UK public expenditure in housing targeted at the North has gone down from 24% in 1998 to 17.8% over the last 20 years. The North’s current share of funding is “much lower” than its share of the UK population, which is 23.3%.

What’s more, the Government recently announced a change in the way five key funding schemes such as the Housing Infrastructure Fund and the Estates Regeneration Fund – are allocated. This tightens focus on areas of “highest affordability pressure”, squeezing out other areas in need. As H4N notes, only 11 of the 72 Northern local authorities would meet the criteria.

“This has resulted in a spatially targeted funding allocation framework that will see a significant amount of Government funding allocated to areas in London and the South East,” says the report.

The document adds: “This report shows that the current direction of Government policy regarding public expenditure on housing could reduce the North’s share of investment moving forward by nearly 50%.”

This is just a flavour of H4N’s research, of course, and only the briefest insight into the topics set to be discussed in Leeds next month. No spoilers, but expect some lively debate. The North assembles.

# # #

Roll Call

THE Homes for the North Conference is presenting a prestigious line-up of speakers:

Carol Matthews

Chair of Homes for the North, and chief executive of Riverside Housing

Lord Bob Kerslake

Chair of UK2070 Commission

John Cridland

Chair, Transport for the North

Kevin Hollinrake

MP for Thirsk & Malton and member of the Housing, Communities & Local Government Select Committee

Fiona Howie

Chief executive, Town & Country Planning Association

Bronwen Rapley

Chief executive, Onward Homes

Paul Dennett

Salford city mayor, and the Greater Manchester Combined Authority’s portfolio holder for housing, planning and homelessness

Henri Murison

Director, Northern Powerhouse Partnership

Nigel Wilson

Chief executive, Gentoo Group

Christine Gaskell

Vice chair, NP11

Danielle Gillespie

Director of market, partners and places – North, Homes England

Charlotte Carpenter

Executive director, Karbon Homes

Dave Procter

Chair, Together Housing and Great Places Commission

Pete Bojar

Executive director, Great Places Housing Group

Sean Anstee

Former leader, Trafford Council

Sharon Thomas

Director, Thirteen Group

Katie Teasdale

Head of member relations, National Housing Federation

Peter Jordan

Director, Newground CIC

Patrick Berry

Managing director, Together Energy

Ian Birch

Head of Transport Economics, CEBR

# # #

Setting the agenda


Conference opens for registration and networking


Welcome and opening remarks from chair, Carol Matthews

9.45 – 10.15am

Keynote speaker: Lord Kerslake, UK2070 Commission

10.15 – 10.45am

Panel Discussion: Rebalancing the economy

With Henri Murison, Northern Powerhouse Partnership; Christina Gaskell, NP11; Nigel Wilson, Gentoo Group

10.45 – 11.15am

Refreshments, exhibition and networking

11.15 – 12.15pm

Morning breakout sessions

#1 Our Modular Homes in the North

Presenting H4N research on modern methods of construction, and taking a look at the work underway at the Gateshead Innovation Village.

Sponsored by Consortium Procurement Construction

#2 Future Proofing Skills

Taking a look at construction apprenticeships

Sponsored by Efficiency North

12.15 – 1.15pm

Lunch, exhibition and networking

1.15 – 1.30pm

Keynote speaker: Making the case for housing in the North

Kevin Hollinrake MP for Thirsk and Malton and member of the Housing, Communities and Local Government Select Committee

1.30 – 14.15pm

Panel Discussion: The Role of Housing in a Transformed North

With Fiona Howie, Town & Country Planning Association; Paul Dennett, Salford City Mayor; Danielle Gillespie, Homes England; Charlotte Carpenter, Karbon Homes; and Bronwen Rapley, Onward Homes.

14.15 – 15.15pm

Afternoon breakout sessions

#3 The Homes That We Live In

Exploring what needs to be done to regenerate our communities.

Sponsored by Rent Plus

#4 Sustainable Homes in the North

At the time of going to press, the content is still to be confirmed.

15.15 – 15.45pm

Refreshments, exhibition and networking

15.45 – 16.15pm

Keynote speaker: John Cridland, Transport for the North

16.15 – 16.30pm

Closing remarks from Carol Matthews and Nigel Wilson

16.30 – 17.45pm

VIP networking drinks reception

Sponsored by NPA 24:7


This article first appeared in the print edition of Housing Executive magazine #6 October 2019

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