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Transport for the North to get £30m – Summer Budget 2015

Words: Laura Edgar

Chancellor George Osborne has laid out plans to commit £30 million of funding for Transport for the North and to devolve more powers to Greater Manchester, while a planning announcement is to be made on Friday.

In today’s Summer Budget (pdf) Osborne announced that Transport for the North (TfN), established by the chancellor to bring together Northern transport authorities to work alongside the government to help create a Northern Powerhouse, would receive £30 million of funding over three years.

This, said the government, would give TfN more responsibility for setting out policy and investments, with cities and counties in the region given more control over local transport.

Osborne announced a road fund, with all vehicle excise duty revenue being ploughed into new road investment.

Greater Manchester would receive greater powers, including over employment services, and a new land commission.

The new land commission will grant the Manchester city region more powers over planning subject “to the agreement of the cabinet member representing the district in which the power is used”.

Osborne also said he is working towards deals with the Sheffield and Liverpool city regions and Leeds, West Yorkshire and partner authorities “on far reaching devolution of power in return for the creation of directly elected mayors.”

Osborne emphasised that the government is delivering on its commitment to devolve further powers to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, through the introduction of the Scotland Bill and “commencing discussions on a revised Scottish fiscal framework”.

Rents for social housing will be reduced by one per cent for four years with tenants on higher incomes – over £40,000 in London and over £30,000 outside London) will be required to pay market rate, or near market rate, rents.

He said that further planning system changes would be announced on Friday, with “building more homes and creating a fairer property market” key to raising the productivity of the country.


“The Budget shows continued momentum to devolve more powers to other parts of the UK and we support this. We need more strategic planning – local authorities to work together across boundaries, coordinate land use, infrastructure, employment and housing. Cities and regions in devolution talks must seize this opportunity to achieve this.

“At the RTPI's planning convention yesterday I made a plea for stability and certainty in the planning system. Attempts to simplify are simply making our regulations much more complicated than they need be. The planning reforms to be announced on Friday are our main concern and we will comment when we know more.”

Janet Askew, president of the RTPI

“The creation of a land commission for Manchester is clearly good news. We have seen similar moves in London. It reflects the government’s agenda to devolve power and is a means of identifying and corralling surplus public sector land across individual local authority boundaries. However, the real news for the development industry will come on Friday, when we can expect to find out how government intends to speed up planning applications. With many local authorities struggling to find the capacity to process applications, it is hoped that not only will processes be further streamlined, but also that those left responsible to plan for and deal with larger more complex developments are given sufficient resource to do so.”

Tim Pugh, partner in Berwin Leighton Paisner’s planning and environment team

“If this Budget has highlighted anything, it is the need for the government to have a proper national economic plan, drawn up by a non-partisan commission and agreed by all parties, rather than relying on political set-pieces like the Budget to announce major new projects, if they do at all.

"The delay over airport expansion and decision to shelve the electrification of the TransPennine railway are just more evidence of the short-term view this government is taking in regard to investment in infrastructure.”

Bruce Lightbody, partner and head of real estate (Leeds) at Addleshaw Goddard

“The government’s plans to reduce rents paid by tenants will have an adverse impact on both housing associations and developers.

“Social housing rents have – until now – increased annually by RPI plus 0.5 per cent per annum, underpinning housing associations’ business plans and making social housing an attractive investment proposition. This announcement is likely to undermine housing association finances and risks making bond issues less attractive.”

Dr Anthony Lee, senior director at BNP Paribas Real Estate

“On the one hand we welcome the priority that has been given to essential infrastructure funding and apprenticeships.

“On the other hand we still lack a coherent vision for how we are going to build our way out of a housing crisis. The stakes are high. The nation’s need for new housing and infrastructure remains urgent and we should already be looking beyond where Crossrail 2 and HS3 might go, and how this will drive associated developments.”

Mark Naysmith, UK chief operating officer and managing director for transportation, infrastructure and property at WSP | Parsons Brinckerhoff

“While Manchester is steaming ahead, it is great to see that other areas are not far behind, with a number of further devolution deals for several regions in the offing.

“It is critical, however, that we don’t get stuck in a constitutional quagmire and fixate on elected mayors. The key to success and attracting investment is to have a coherent, positive vision for an area, creating a place where people can live, work and play, and this is not dependent on having a mayor in place.”

Melanie Leech, chief executive of the British Property Federation

“The announcement that housing tenants in England earning more than £30,000 - or £40,000 in London - will have to pay up to the market rent, and the regional benefit payment cap, will have far-reaching consequences for housing affordability. This is particularly concerning as it is coupled with a worrying trend of many local councils failing to plan enough housing to deliver their true identified affordable housing needs.

Dominick Veasey, associate at Nexus Planning

“Today was always going to be about delivering the next phase of the government’s economic programme, and the results and growth forecasts are promising. What we haven’t seen is any practical means of solving arguably the largest threat to social and economic wellbeing in the UK – the housing crisis.”

Ian Anderson, Executive Director at planning consultancy, Iceni Projects

“A further £30 million for Transport for the North scheme appraisal is welcome, but businesses are still looking for the government to commit real cash to its infrastructure plans before they will themselves invest. This was another missed opportunity to provide the finance needed to fire up the Northern economy.

“The transport secretary has placed Northern rail electrification on an indefinite pause and plans for a Northern ‘Oystercard’ offer scant consolation while London and the South-East motor away with as much as 92 per cent of planned infrastructure spending in the coming years. The Spending Review at the end of the year represents a ‘last-chance saloon’ for a concept which is looking more and more flaky with each new announcement.”

Ed Cox, director at IPPR North