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Think-tank report calls for more ‘Metro Mayor’ housing powers

Published: Thursday, 3rd November 2016

IPPR North report highlights ‘Metro Mayors’ as best placed to tackle housing issues in their areas and argues for more control over planning and housing to be devolved to them…

England’s major cities risk a London-style housing crisis unless radical powers over housing are handed to the new breed of ‘Metro’ Mayors, according to a new report from think-tank IPPR North.

It argues that England has not one housing market but many and that the new breed of so-called ‘Metro’ Mayors set to be elected next May will be best placed to tackle housing issues.

The report insisted that unless significant powers over planning and housing are handed to new Mayors, the government risks missing its housebuilding target and a repeat of the London mayoralty, where successive mayors have lacked real powers to address major problems in the capital’s housing market.

The report highlighted that that brownfield land is in too short supply to meet the government’s million homes target, citing figures from consultancy Nathaniel Lichfield and Partners, based on data from the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG).

The think-tank noted that ministers have devolved some powers to some councils, e.g. the ability to integrate new housing with other infrastructure projects, such as transport or economic hubs.

The report insisted that the government should go further and adopt a deal-making approach to housing devolution. The report argued for:

  • Control over the greenbelt, so mayors can potentially allow development on strategic parts of this, in consultation with local residents
  • Handing mayors stamp duty proceeds from new build homes as an incentive to increase supply
  • The ability to put levies on empty homes.

In return, mayors should explain to government how they will:

  • Release sufficient public land and identify private sites to meet housebuilding targets
  • Set out plans to speed up the planning system for developers. For instance, by relaxing planning rules
  • Showcase how they will help small and medium sized businesses enter the market, for instance in breaking up larger developments into smaller chunks.

Read the report

Roger Milne