Whitehall accused of stifling economic growth in the North

The Government has been accused of stifling economic growth in the North through housing targets and the way it assesses future need.

The Homes for the North group of housing associations claim that the region is set to miss out on tens of thousands of new homes and jobs as a result of the current system, which they argue favours housebuilding in the South.

The research, undertaken by leading planning and development consultancy, Lichfields, reveals 13,340 fewer homes a year would be built and there would be 16,000 fewer construction jobs because of Whitehall housing targets.

In 2017, Lichfields examined the local plans for the 72 local authorities located across the north of England. The total number of homes identified by those councils was 55,775 per year.

Applying the Government’s new standardized methodology for housing need (Objectively Assessed Need), the local authority projections would drop by 13,340 to an annual figure of 42,435.

Labour’s shadow housing secretary John Healey said the housing targets are a ‘cap on northern aspiration’.

‘Ambitious northern areas want to build for the future, but changes set to be made by ministers will make it harder for them to do that,’ said Mr Healey.

‘The housing crisis is a national crisis. Home-ownership has fallen in every region since 2010, and there is visibly rising homelessness in almost every town and city in the country.

‘The Chancellor should use the next Budget to reverse the deep cuts in housing investment made since 2010 and back northern areas to build,’ he added.

The chair of Homes for the North, Carol Matthews, added: ‘As our great northern cities continue to thrive both economically and culturally increasing numbers of people are moving to places such as Manchester, Leeds and Newcastle.

‘One of the main attractions – especially for younger people – is the availability and affordability of homes. In the next ten years, the north will need 500,000 new homes to keep up current demand. Yet government policy isn’t geared up for this.

‘The way future housing need is planned for fails to recognise future growth prospects of cities across the north. This needs to be addressed immediately.  Failure to do so will hold the north back – and it is the next generation who will pay the price.’

An MHCLG spokesperson said: ‘Our new approach is not a target, and we want to see ambitious northern councils building far more homes. “We want to see the north thrive with thousands more homes, jobs and better transport links.’

A new report published by Lichfields earlier this month claimed more than 6,000 new homes will now be built after councillors’ objections were overturned on appeal.

It found that of the 78 appeals in 2017, where a refusal was made against planning officer recommendations, almost two thirds (65%) were later allowed, amounting to over 6,000 homes.


Jamie Hailstone
Senior reporter - NewStart


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