A group of Northern MPs from across the political spectrum are backing a campaign that is demanding the Government show more ambition for housing across the region.
The 25 MPs – including shadow planning minister Roberta Blackman-Woods, and Caroline Flint, chair of the Northern Powerhouse parliamentary group – have added their names to a letter sent to communities secretary James Brokenshire MP.
The letter was sent by Carol Matthews, chief executive of Riverside, who also serves as the chair of Homes for the North (H4N); an alliance of the region’s 17 largest housing associations.
It calls for a new wave of ambitious house-building in the North, including a regional housing target, and for the establishment of a pan-Northern scrutiny body to ensure that housing and infrastructure are planned in conjunction.
“The fact that MPs from opposing parties have come together with one voice on Northern housing shows the strength of feeling there is to get to grips with the housing crisis here,” Matthews said. “We believe that we have set out a way forward for a radical increase in the output of affordable housing and we are asking the Secretary of State to work with us and Northern MPs to deliver the plans.”
H4N’s demands are drawn from a ‘charter’ of policy actions it proposed, which also include plans to combine existing housing and infrastructure funding streams within new place-based ‘renewal deals’, creating new opportunities in areas which have been left behind.
The full Charter, Rebalancing the Economy: Building the Northern Homes We Need, was launched in Parliament this February (main image), where the proposals were welcomed by shadow housing secretary John Healey, Northern Powerhouse minister Jake Berry, and Kevin Hollinrake MP.
The letter sent to the Secretary of State, James Brokenshire MP in full:
Dear Secretary of State,
I am the Chair of Homes for the North – an alliance of 17 northern housing associations who provide affordable homes to nearly 1 million people. I recently had the pleasure of launching our new Charter, Rebalancing the Economy: Building the Northern Homes We Need in Parliament alongside Northern Powerhouse Minister Jake Berry, Shadow Housing Secretary John Healey, and Kevin Hollinrake MP.
The Charter is the culmination of three years’ work, and sets out four core asks that could contribute to increased prosperity and opportunity in the North:
- A regional housing target that is reflective of northern need – and created with northern growth and economic ambition in mind;
- A requirement that local authorities in the north align their housing supply plans with Local Industrial Strategies;
- The establishment of a powerful pan-northern body charged with ensuring that housing and infrastructure are planned together over the long term;
- A new type of place-based ‘renewal deal’ between government, combined and local authorities, and housing associations that would focus on combining existing investment streams in housing, transport, and local economic development.
The launch was attended by many northern MPs – both Labour and Conservative – and despite their political differences, all welcomed our call for more ambition regarding delivering homes in the north. Many of them have now set out their commitment to this ambition in signing this letter.
We are writing to you today to ask you to meet with myself to discuss the Charter, and how we could work together to deliver a more prosperous north.
I look forward to working with you and MPs from both sides of the house to make this ambitious vision for northern growth a reality.
Full list of signatories:
Rt Hon Sir Kevin Barron, MP for Rother Valley
Dr Roberta Blackman-Woods, MP for the City of Durham
Sarah Champion, MP for Rotherham
Rosie Cooper, MP for West Lancashire
Nic Dakin, MP for Scunthorpe
Julie Elliot, MP for Sunderland Central
Rt Hon Caroline Flint, MP for Don Valley
Kate Green, MP for Stretford and Urmston
Mike Hill, MP for Hartlepool
Sharon Hodgson, MP for Washington and Sunderland West
Kevin Hollinrake, MP for Thirsk and Malton
Rt Hon George Howarth, MP for Knowsley
Andrea Jenkyns, MP for Morley and Outwood
Diana Johnson, MP for Kingston upon Hull North
Graham Jones, MP for Hyndburn
Ian Mearns, MP for Gateshead
Mark Menzies, MP for Flyde
Chi Onwurah, MP for Newcastle upon Tyne Central
Lucy Powell, MP for Manchester Central
Jonathan Reynolds, MP for Staylbridge and Hyde
Jeff Smith, MP for Withington
John Stevenson, MP for Carlisle
Anna Turley, MP for Redcar
Liz Twist, MP for Blaydon
Martin Vickers, MP for Cleethorpes
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Main Image: The launch of H4N’s charter in Parliament earlier this year. (L-R) Kevin Hollinrake MP; shadow housing secretary John Healey MP; H4N chair Carol Matthews; and Jake Berry, minister for the Northern Powerhouse and local growth