A far-reaching housing strategy for Manchester city region, featuring 30,000 carbon neutral “affordable” rent homes, will be put to the combined authority’s political leadership this month.
The housing strategy – the first since the election of GM Mayor Andy Burnham two years ago – comes with the bold assertion that it will ensure every resident in Greater Manchester will have access to a “safe, decent and affordable home”.
As a strategy, it’s playing for the long game, of course, with key ambitions set to be achieved by the late 2030s. The plan builds upon the Greater Manchester Housing Vision, which was launched in January. All told, it commits to supply at least 201,000 new homes across all tenures by 2037
Its central aim, to ensure that the housing crisis is addressed by meeting the needs and aspirations of “current and future citizens”, is said to rest on a “groundbreaking collaboration” between the public, private, community, voluntary and social enterprise sectors across the city region.
“The housing crisis takes many forms, and the challenges we face in Greater Manchester need solutions that work for our communities and residents,” said Salford mayor, Paul Dennett, who serves as housing lead for the Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA).
“In drafting a Greater Manchester Housing Strategy we are focusing on where we can make a real difference by working together across the city region, either to deliver real change on the ground, or to make the case to Government for the national changes needed to help tackle the challenges faced by people in Greater Manchester.”
A key pillar of Dennett’s strategy is a commitment to deliver at least 50,000 additional “truly affordable” homes by 2037. Of these, 30,000 would be for social or “affordable” rent. The plan is to deliver these homes by working in partnership with housing providers, local authorities, Homes England, and the Government to “maximise investment” in new social housing.
The environmental agenda also has a crucial role to play with the residential sector to make an “important contribution” to Greater Manchester’s “bold pledge” to become a carbon neutral city region by 2038.
A further commitment makes it a requirement for every newbuild in the city region to be zero carbon by 2028, alongside the presumption of building on brownfield-first sites as highlighted in Greater Manchester’s draft plan for Homes, Jobs and the Environment.
The strategy also commits to the introduction of a Greater Manchester-wide Good Landlord Scheme. This is to be developed by working in partnership with landlords, tenants and others, the GMCA says.
It sets out the aim that landlords will be accredited as a GM Good Landlord if they maintain their properties to a “decent, safe standard” and treat residents “fairly when it comes to rents, deposits, length of tenancies and evictions”.
The link between housing and social issues, such as health and ageing, will also be a key focus for the strategy, following intensive working with partners at Greater Manchester’s Health & Social Care Partnership.
Proposals include a new ‘Healthy Homes Service’ to help support vulnerable people live safely and independently in their own homes, and a more strategic approach to the provision of high quality supported housing across the city region.
Dennett added: “Specific work is already under way on many of the issues raised in the strategy, including homelessness and rough sleeping, the private rented sector, work to accelerate housing delivery and detailed work on the real pressures of housing affordability facing households in Greater Manchester.
“The sector is also making slow progress in this area, including recent legislation enshrining tenants’ right to an improved standard of housing and an end to rip-off letting agent fees.
“Housing is fundamental to the quality of everyone’s lives, so it’s a vital part of our work to make Greater Manchester one of the best places in the world to grow up, get on and grow old.”
The Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham, added: “It is absolutely necessary for everyone to have a good home. We need to make sure we are building more homes and also that we are taking action to raise standards across the city-region so that the needs of all our residents are met.
“I’ve just recently announced our support for a city region-wide ethical lettings agency, being set up by Greater Manchester’s Housing Providers. We’re also committed to introducing a Good Landlord scheme across the city-region, to be developed by working in partnership with landlords, tenants and others.
“But we need Government behind us too. Their recent announcement of an end to Section 21 notices or ‘no fault evictions’ is very welcome, but we need a clear timetable for that change. In my view it is vital that decent, quality housing is made a right in UK law.”