A guide to how metro mayors plan to tackle the housing crisis

The start of this month saw six ‘metro mayors’ elected to lead newly formed combined local authorities.

These authorities will be responsible for issues such as housing delivery and all six mayors have outlined their housing policies. 

To assess what impact the newly elected mayors will have on housing across the UK, Development Finance Today has produced a guide explaining their powers and what they hope to implement. 

What is a combined authority? 

A combined authority is a legal body set up using national legislation that enables a group of two or more councils to collaborate and take collective decisions across council boundaries. 

These decisions include housing and transport links as well as looking to deliver economic growth to the regions. 

Nine combined authorities have been set up so far:

-    Cambridgeshire and Peterborough 
-    Greater Manchester Combined Authority 
-    Liverpool City Region
-    Sheffield City Region
-    Tees Valley Combined Authority
-    West Midlands Combined Authority
-    West of England 
-    North East Combined Authority 
-    West Yorkshire Combined Authority 

Six of these combined authorities (Cambridgeshire and Peterborough, Manchester, Liverpool, Tees Valley, West Midlands and West of England) elected mayors earlier this month. 

Sheffield will hold elections in 2018, while the North East and West Yorkshire combined authorities have no elected mayors.

Video courtsey of the Local Government Association 

Who are the elected mayors and what are their housing policies? 

The six new mayors will be the figurehead for their combined authority, therefore Development Finance Today has taken a look at each of their policies on housing and what they have already implemented since coming to power.

Cambridgeshire and Peterborough 

The city of Cambridge has become a popular location to live

Mayor: James Palmer
Party: Conservative 

Cambridgeshire and Peterborough will receive £170m to deliver new homes over a five-year period. 

Mr Palmer has already set out a 100-day plan which includes announcing the first wave of new affordable housing schemes across the region. 

The mayor also wants to commence consultation on a mayoral housing fund which would allow SME builders to develop and grow, while also commissioning a study to consider how off-site construction methods can be used to speed up housing delivery. 

Mr Palmer also wants to accelerate the delivery of 100,000 new homes and lead a conference for local housing developers, builders and providers to discuss key issues impacting delivery. 

Greater Manchester Combined Authority 

Greater Manchester is set to benefit from the Northern Powerhouse

Mayor: Andy Burnham 
Party: Labour 

Andy Burnham has revealed he intends to focus on tackling the housing crisis by ensuring truly affordable housing is available for everyone in Greater Manchester. 

The mayor has already appointed Salford City mayor Paul Dennett to the post of portfolio holder for housing, planning and homelessness. 

Mr Burnham is planning to radically rewrite the Greater Manchester Spatial Framework and is putting emphasis on building the right types of homes in the right places.

He has also pledged to end rough-sleeping in Greater Manchester by 2020.

Liverpool City Region 

Major regeneration is taking place across Liverpool

Mayor: Steve Rotheram 
Party: Labour 

Steve Rotheram hopes to introduce a housing challenge competition to discover and pilot innovative ways to build new communities fit for the 21st century. 

The competition will introduce new approaches for older people, modern community mutual and co-operative models, self-build initiatives, community-led neighbourhood design, new funding approaches and modern methods of construction. 

The former bricklayer set up his own construction company at the age of 22. 

Tees Valley Combined Authority 

The Tees Valley hopes to see a rise in housebuilding 

Mayor: Ben Houchen
Party: Conservative

One of Ben Houchen’s key housing policies was to develop a new garden village in the region which will provide homes and infrastructure. 

Since coming to power, Mr Houchen has welcomed the arrival of the Ministry of Building Innovation (MOBI), which has launched in the North East. 

Run by renowned architect George Clarke, the MOBI is an educational, research and development organisation. 

Its main focus will be on the creation of new homes and to challenge the housing market as a whole. 

West Midlands Combined Authority 

Major regeneration is occuring across the West Midlands

Mayor: Andy Street 
Party: Conservative 

Former John Lewis boss Andy Street will lead the West Midlands combined authority.

He has pledged to build 25,000 new homes by 2020 and to always prioritise construction on brownfield sites. 

Mr Street has also highlighted the 10,000 homes in the region which are currently unoccupied and wants to put more energy into bringing them back into use. 

The mayor also hopes to make more empty office blocks available for residential development. 

West of England Combined Authority 

More urban development is set for the West of England

Mayor: Tim Bowles 
Party: Conservative 

Tim Bowles has prioritised building in urban regeneration areas and on brownfield land.

Mr Bowles hopes to target the areas where demand is greatest and where infrastructure exists as well as strong employment opportunities.  

The mayor has prioritised urban development over greenfield and green belt land.

He also aims to make sure housing allocations are fair, with a focus on supporting first-time buyers by creating affordable homes. 

How will the mayors get on?

Simon Peacock, lead director for South and Wales region at JLL, believes West of England mayor Tim Bowles must address the region’s construction industry skill shortage. 

“While the election of our new metro mayor should mean a more strategic approach to crucial issues such as housing and transport, if the construction skills gap is not tackled, this will stand in the way of the delivery of such projects.”

Simon warned that one of the consequences of the skills shortage was that build costs would increase, thus driving up house prices. 

“As well as tackling the skills shortage, a fresh look must be taken at co-ordinated land allocation to ensure housing needs can be met at affordable prices, and there must be bolder strategic decisions to meet the region’s transport infrastructure requirements,” Simon added.

Ian Cornock, lead director for the Midlands region at JLL, expects to see a lot more from newly elected mayor Andy Street. 

“Andy understands the language of investors, and will make an excellent ambassador for the region. 

“At the same time, he knows that every major urban area is competing fiercely to attract FDI [Foreign Direct Investment].

“I am confident he'll do everything possible to make this region investor-friendly, in which delivering the next phase of Midland Metro extensions, including the link from Birmingham to the airport, will be key.”

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