Good Places Commission to scrutinise regeneration in north and Midlands
Areas in economic decline, starting with some parts of the north of England and the Midlands, will be put under the spotlight by the new Great Places Commission set up by the National Housing Federation in a bid to redevelop existing neighbourhoods.
The UK’s housing crisis has been a prime focus of the government in recent months, with a target of building 300,000 new homes a year until the mid-2020s being set by Philip Hammond in last year’s Autumn Budget. However, issues affecting the north of the country differ to those seen in the south – while areas like London and the south-east suffer with a lack of housing affordability, in parts of the north homes sit empty in places where economic deprivation, lack of jobs and inadequate public transport and infrastructure are the bigger problems to be tackled.
The National Housing Federation’s (NHF) new Great Places Commission has been launched to look at the issue of what makes somewhere a “great place to live”, by comparing thriving areas with neighbouring places that are struggling. The commission is made up of a 12-person panel, including Angela Lockwood, chief executive of Northstar, Mark Henderson, chief executive of Home Group, and Sinead Butters, chief executive of Aspire Housing and chair of Placeshapers.
The team will visit the areas and hold meetings with local residents, mayors, councillors and academic in order to try and draw up the best ways in which to help the places that are lagging behind. The idea is to adopt a holistic approach, rather than purely focusing on building more houses.
The NHF’s executive director of public impact, Ruth Davison, said: “Part of the job of the commission is to think about what are the things that will help expedite and smooth the delivery of great places so that people’s life chances are improved and they feel like places where hope thrives, rather than the opposite.”
Davison also views the issue as a personal one, adding: “One of the things I’m really conscious of is the commission going with an enquiring, open mind. I’m from Hartlepool and people might walk around the places that I love in that town and think that they are a bit crummy, truthfully, and ostensibly they might be.
“But they have value to me. And only people who live in communities understand the kind of value that’s there already, the assets that are there already – historical, cultural or whatever.”
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