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26 Nov
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Is the North West Broken? - Ending the Housing Crisis

A recent report by the National Housing Federation (NHF), North West Broken Market, Broken Dreams, has revealed the fragmented extent of the housing crisis in the region. The housing situation in the North West is recognised through the work being carried out by the Greater Manchester Combined Authorities (GMCA) in the preparation of the Greater Manchester Spatial Framework (GMSF), which will guide growth in the Greater Manchester region up to 2037.

There is a divided housing situation in the North West in terms of levels of income, house prices and need which create a unique crisis that is problematic to tackle, but nonetheless must be. The region has strong, confident cities with aspirations for significant economic growth, which the housing offer in the region should seek to reflect and support.

Many parts of the North West are in desperate need of regeneration; the NHF identified that the region has the highest number of long-term empty homes in the country, with 43,700 properties currently vacant. In addition to this there is a large number of poor quality older houses, which do not meet the housing needs or aspirations of the local communities.

The long term failure of both the public and private sectors to build enough homes in the North West means that access to housing continues to be a problem with not enough new homes being built to keep up with demand. The NHF report predicts that over the next 20 years, 360,000 new households are expected to form across the North West; however, current build rates would result in a shortfall of over 195,000 homes by 2031. All political parties appear to be recognising this need to significantly increase housing completions to solve the housing crisis which currently exists.  Our recent blog about the Lyons Review looks at Labour’s approach.

An initial draft of the GMSF has recently been consulted on, this outlines a housing requirement for the 10 combined authorities of the GMCA of 224,823 dwellings between 2012 and 2037 (10,706dpa). However, many in the housing sector have raised concerns that this figure is too low and should be boosted significantly to address economic aspirations and housing need.

Due to the limited amount of brownfield land available to accommodate existing housing need within many North West authorities, especially the GMCA, there will be a need to release Green Belt if the housing crisis is to be addressed. The preparation of the GMSF should therefore include a strategic Green Belt review early on in the plan-making process.

Despite the fact that the average house price for the region is below the national average, these prices are still beyond affordability for many people, with house prices being more than six and a half times the average income. In some areas house prices are closer to the national average, however within these areas house prices are nearly 10 times the average annual income.

The benefits of affordable homes in the region is addressed, with the NHF report stating that every new affordable home built in the North West adds £90,972 to the regional economy and creates 2.1 jobs. This will therefore contribute to the economic aspirations of the region.

The National Housing Federation report concludes by calling all political parties to commit to ending the housing crisis within a generation and requesting that the next government should publish a long-term plan within a year, setting out how they will achieve this. It therefore remains to be seen whether or not the next government accept the challenge and are able to kick-start an approach to end the North West’s housing crisis.

If you have any residential schemes within the North West which NJL may be able to advise you on please do not hesitate to get in touch.


Images used courtesy of Natesh Ramasamy and Derek Swanson on Flickr

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