This comment comes after concerns were raised by northern political leaders about the government’s investment plans in rail projects in the North of England.
Leaders from Manchester, Liverpool, Leeds, Sheffield and Newcastle have called on the government to address the long-term imbalances in transport funding and deliver the rail services that people in the North have been promised.
These concerns also follow transport secretary Chris Grayling’s announcement that an agreement had been reached for the Crossrail 2 project in south-east England.
‘Investing in the Northern Powerhouse means investing in Britain’
Northern political leaders are concerned by the government’s transport funding
“I think it’s vital that [the] government continues to invest in the Northern Powerhouse to continue to boost the economy and attract foreign investors to the region,” said James Bloom, managing director of development finance at Masthaven.
Meanwhile, Rico Wojtulewicz, policy adviser for the National Federation of Builders, added: “Investing in the Northern Powerhouse means investing in Britain.”
Katy Katani, associate director for business development and marketing at Zorin Finance, felt that transport in the Northern Powerhouse was of critical importance for sustainable economic growth across the North.
She believed that good links between the agglomeration of small cities that are close to each other would create a unified area which in turn would help to create jobs and bring investment to the area.
“The economic growth of the northern regions, such as Manchester, Birmingham and Leeds, is trailing behind London,” said Katy.
“It needs to be a dynamic counterweight and a destination of choice – especially for overseas investors – allowing the national economy to be rebalanced in years to come.”
Easing the pressure on the London housing market
More investment in the North could encourage more housing
Luis McBriar of Adapt Finance felt more investment in cities in the North would ease the pressure on London.
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“As everyone knows, a large amount of this country’s wealth is generated in the capital city which, from a housing prospective, has led to not only huge investment, but a shortage of affordable housing.
“Although that may appear as an oxymoron, no matter how much is invested into [the] London property market, the demand far outstrips the supply.
“By investing into the infrastructure of the North of England, businesses will be encouraged to create more jobs in other areas of the country and, therefore, ease pressure on the London housing market.”
Luis felt another huge part of the Northern Powerhouse was the creation of regional mayors.
“Once again, without touching on all political areas, this allows property investment, building and regeneration to be focused on the areas which need it.
“Areas which central government may not realise are in severe need of new housing will be picked up on by local authorities.
“Therefore, they can and will be economically focused on to bring developments.”
Is there too big a focus on Manchester?
Is the government focusing too much on Manchester rather than other cities?
James was concerned that the funding the government had planned focused too much on Manchester.
“It’s important that any further funds reach other areas and [are] not just concentrated on a few key places.
“For instance, Greater Manchester is getting nearly twice as much funding as Leeds, which has a similar sized population.
“I fear an east/west divide and I’d like to see the government address this when it considers where funds are distributed in the future.”
Rico agreed, adding: “The government must make sure that this prosperity spreads across the entire northern region.”
“HS3 will play an integral part of that success and the government must make every effort to make sure that its bigger cities, such as Manchester, do not become a central point for investors.”
Ashley Ilsen, head of lending at Regentsmead, felt further infrastructure improvements were key across the country and not just in the Northern Powerhouse.
“Major infrastructure developments – depending on the state of the economy – do invariably help increase demand for housing in certain areas further away from London and we would subsequently expect values to rise in these areas.
“There is no doubt an attraction here for development finance lenders – both old and new – as we have already seen lenders being attracted by the return in these areas and lured by the uplift created in various large-scale investments.
“Good examples of this are Crossrail and the major transport improvements made recently to Cambridgeshire, Suffolk and Norfolk, where we have seen a substantial increase in property values.”