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Tees Valley should ‘explore viability’ of starter homes – Heseltine

Words: Laura Edgar
Middlesbrough, Tees Valley

Lord Heseltine’s report on the regeneration of Tees Valley recommends that more be done to identify suitable sites for starter homes, and to explore their viability.

The report, Tees Valley: Opportunity Unlimited, also proposes that the South Tees Development Corporation is established “as quickly as possible”.

Lord Heseltine produced the report after being asked by business secretary Sajid Javid to look at ways to bring investment to Teesside after the closure of SSI steelworks in Redcar.

Earlier this year, Heseltine announced plans for a new Mayoral Development Corporation to drive forward regeneration and local economic growth in the Tees Valley. 

In his report, Heseltine says he has been “hugely impressed” by the number of people in local government and both public and private sectors who are “determined to lead this new opportunity”.

He says his recommendations are based on his view that the Tees Valley “has an exciting future and that it should be helped to assert its own character and personality”.

The Tees Valley Combined Authority, he continues, can stamp its own imprint, break out from the shadow of Newcastle, exploit its past, secure the interconnectivity of transport infrastructure, establish Darlington as its gateway and add “an escalating range of new industries to those on which its past depended”.

Heseltine makes a number of recommendations in his 90-page report, including that local authorities in the Tees Valley should work with the HCA to identify suitable sites for starter home development, and “actively drive forward their ambition to fast-track the development for young first-time buyers”. Additionally, the Tees Valley Development Corporation should focus early on exploring the viability of starter homes and low-cost home ownership, with help from the government to access the funds needed to support its housing ambitions.

A further recommendation is that the Tees Valley Combined Authority should make the maximum use of the funding on offer through the £3 billion Home Building Fund and work “proactively” with developers to bring forward bids.

Other recommendations include:

  • The South Tees Development Corporation should be established “as quickly as possible” and the government and local partners need to put the relevant resource in place to realise this goal.

  • The five local authorities, community groups and developers should explore the Estates Regeneration programme launched by Prime Minister David Cameron earlier this year. 

  • Network Rail and Transport for the North are encouraged to recognise the importance of Darlington Station as the key rail gateway for the Tees Valley.

  • The combined authority should work with the owners and operators of Durham Tees Valley Airport to agree on a sustainable future for the wider airport.

Tees Valley: Opportunity Unlimited can be found here (pdf).

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