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North of England needs 500,000 homes within 10 years

Words: Laura Edgar
Housing / iStock

A national housebuilding drive is needed for the north of England – a new report suggests that 500,000 more homes are required in the next 10 years to meet the region’s growth ambitions.

Planning consultancy Lichfields compiled the report on behalf of Homes for the North (H4N), an alliance of 19 large housing associations that are aiming to ensure that enough homes are delivered.  

The consultancy considered the planned future housing requirements of 72 northern local authorities as set out in the evidence that underpins their local plans. The study looks at how this aligns with potential future economic scenarios for the North.

Future Housing Requirements for the North, says that of those 500,000 homes “the majority of homes (70 per cent) are identified as needed within the seven city regions”.

The city regions will need:

  • North East – 2,886 dwellings per annum (dpa)
  • Tees Valley – 1,187 dpa
  • Leeds city region – 13,088 dpa
  • Sheffield city region – 5,395 dpa
  • Hull city region – 2,540 dpa
  • Liverpool city region – 5,364 dpa
  • Manchester city region – 10,682 dpa

Although there is a need for all housing tenures, says H4N, a shortage of good-quality homes to rent to meet the needs of large numbers of graduates and younger working families is a “particular concern”.

H4N has made a number of recommendations to help boost the supply of housing:

  • A housing target for the North: The government should have regional housebuilding targets as well as a national target, including 500,000 for the North, delivered over 10 years. It should be embedded in the infrastructure strategy.
  • Rent certainty to boost housing association development: Rents are capped with a review planned for 2020. A rent deal with the most efficient housing associations would enable the government to give the certainty housing associations need to build more.
  • Combined authorities given a larger role in identifying potential sites: This could include identifying housing zones, adopting US-style ‘Pink Planning Zones’ with place-based deregulation, and exploring the role of housing development orders on brownfield sites across a combined authority.
  • Use funds from the £3 billion Home Building Fund to help speed the rebalancing of the UK economy – allocating a proportion to the North to directly address market failure in housebuilding in these areas.

Mark Henderson, chairman of H4N, said: “Over the past decade 300,000 highly skilled workers have left the North. The government urgently needs to stem this ‘brain drain’ to ensure our regional economies have the ability to flourish and compete with London.

“Housing could play a vital role. While much of the debate over projected demand has been centred around the capital, our research shows that almost a third of new homes in England will be required across our great northern regions, especially around cities such as Manchester, Liverpool, Leeds and Newcastle.  

“To meet the expected demand in new housing across the North, we need a more diverse market. Providers like us could double the amount we build if only government released more public land for development and provided more certainty over future housing funding.”

In response to the report, communities secretary Sajid Javid welcomed H4N’s ambition to drive up housing supply and provide many new homes where people want to live.

“This ambition is entirely in line with our recent white paper, which set out our own plans to increase housing supply. Our £3 billion Home Building Fund is helping to build thousands of high-quality rented homes so tenants in the North and across the UK have greater choice and our flexible £7.1 billion Affordable Homes Programme is supporting regions around the country to achieve their housing ambitions. We recently announced a housing deal with Leeds, and hope to announce deals with other places at the Autumn Budget.

“Through this package of measures we’re helping to fix the broken housing market and boost growth across the North.”

The government has announced the Autumn Budget will take place on Wednesday 22 November.

Image credit | iStock