The Pulse Week

Credit: Edited Jake Berry image, left, from UK Parliament via CC BY 3.0,, Andy Burnham image via GMCA


The Pulse: Energy ratings, mortgage misery, is the North dense?

‘We will use it and we will build on it’

At the Housing 2024 expo in Manchester, Andy Burnham said train stations should be transferred to the GMCA, and land used for new car-less homes. Burnham made it sound simple, “you just transfer that asset to us, and we will then use it, build on it, and some of the proceeds will come back into improving the asset, the station.” Burnham claimed there was “loads of land” that government needed to be prepared to sell for less than its perceived value.

This grass will never be green

For Chris Skidmore, the Conservative ex-energy minister, Tory time is up. Speaking to The Guardian, he claimed that the party had walked away from net zero, expressing disappointment in the divisive campaigning on green policy. Skidmore joined the massed ranks of quitting Tories, including Bolton MP Mark Logan, who switched to Labour saying “the time has come to bring back optimism into British public life.” Labour’s net zero pledges would “require a huge sacrifice” and a path that “is realistic, that is affordable and is achievable,” according to Javier Cavada of Mitsubishi Power. Ineos boss and Manchester United FC co-owner, Sir Jim Ratcliffe, called the Labour targets “absurd”.

A day to remember

Wistful eyes were cast back to June 2014 when then Chancellor George Osborne delivered a speech that introduced the Northern Powerhouse to UK politics. Among its successes have been the numerous devolution deals offered to Northern city regions. However, Henri Murison, chief executive of the Northern Powerhouse Partnership, claims there is still a “mammoth challenge” to face. Bemoaning Sunak’s “less than enthusiastic attitude” to the North, he echoed the view of former Tory party chairman Jake Berry, who told the Express that his party was “giving up” on the North, instead pursuing it’s age-old “Southern comfort strategy,” which would “disregard the realignment of politics” over the last 10 years.

More is mortgage

The Intermediary Mortgage Lenders Association has urged the incoming government to focus its attention on removing barriers to home ownership. There has been a 3.1 million shortfall in first-time buyers since the 2008 financial crisis. The number of first-time buyers has fallen from 405,000 in 2021 to 287,000 in 2023. The IMLA’s fear is the subsequent increase in demand in the rented sector, pushing up rents and putting more pressure on the already buckling social rented sector.

The North isn’t dense

Sunak told the Evening Standard of his desire to raise inner-city density in order to give more people in London access to housing. The Centre for Cities think tank believes density to be the crux in the UK’s economic geography. Every other country in the G7 has greater densities in the centres of their big cities than we do. Second-tier cities in the UK are outliers in the G7 because of their low-density urban form and poor transport connections. Portsmouth, Leicester and Southampton are just some of the cities with higher population densities than towns and cities in the North.

Your Comments

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With regard to the Denisty of cities, most of the Northern cities had large “slum” clearances in the 60’s and 70’s.
Manchester and Liverpool had 100,000s leave their boundaries both are just starting to recover the core population that they once had.

By Just saying

Without the land taken up by surface or multistory car parks you can clearly build more property

By Anonymous

Manchester and Liverpool were both in the top ten of the biggest cities in Europe in the 1940s without their hinterlands . The South Lancashire megalopolis, starting in Oldham, and going through to the Liverpool docks was a colossal continuation of population unrivalled. Burnham ,is trying to turn Manchester into the Mother city it never was, which is not a bad move. The days of individual economies, in the surrounding towns is over. The places with railway stations will thrive as commuter towns for Manchester, over the coming decades.

By Elephant

There’s no way Manchester and Liverpool were in the top ten cities

By Anonymous


By Anonymous

@Elephant there were never individual independent economies in the surrounding towns. They were all part of the same economic system with the spinning, weaving, dyeing, marketing, selling, financing, distribution and spinoff engineering all entirely interdependent with the “mother” city being where the higher order commercial activities located (principally Manchester).

Some people make the mistake of thinking that because there’s some fields between the outlying towns that they were completely independent which is , of course, nonsense.

By Anonymous

They both had populations of over 800.000 at one point.

By Elephant

My point is that people worked in the towns where they lived. Manchester was not like London, a place where people commuted to. If you lived in Bolton, you worked for a Bolton company, if you lived in Edgware you worked in Central London. That was my point. They may have been interconnected economically at some level but then Alabama was interconnected with Lancashire textiles, at some point. Manchester was never the Mother city for the mill towns. They were distinct, and independent. As for the person who said I was wrong about Liverpool and Manchester not being within the largest cities in Europe. From the Industrial Revolution until 1950, both cities, along with Glasgow were in the top twenty and at one point Manchester was the 5th biggest city in Europe and Liverpool 6th. They declined after the war, as did all our regional cities.

By Elephant

People did not commute in great numbers in London either Elephant, do you think they had the money for that? Sure, London may have had a larger proportion of commuters than did Manchester whose professional class came in from the Cheshire plains and other parts of what we now know as Greater Manchester. But it doesn’t matter because cities are primarily defined by their economic linkages – why else site a business in an area if it weren’t for the ability to sell your produce efficiently? And on that score, Oldham and other towns would not be nearly as large were it not for their proximity to other parts of the cotton manufacture and the higher order marketing, selling and financing and distribution functions located in the centre of Manchester after lower-margin cotton production moved out to outlying towns. This is the same process as you would see in any city you care to name throughout history. The green fields between the centre and the old mill towns that are an irrelevance.

By Anonymous

@elephant is probably correct in terms of how the GM Labour markets have worked, even today central Manchester is only 18% of GM employment, whereas its central London is 38% of Greater London employment, and that’s how successful city regions roll. So places like Oldham and Rochdale really do need a thriving Manchester, although many resist that idea. I’m not sure culturally that these places where ever detached from Manchester, although I’ sure some Trotters will pile in at this point.

By Rich X

Elephant you should try visiting some of Europes old cities and see how big they are, the old towns were far bigger than Manchester and Liverpool ever were

By Anonymous

Do a YouTube search Anonymous at 1.02am and you will see where both Manchester and Liverpool were in the pecking order of largest cities in Europe. It will save me losing another five minutes of my life.

By Elephant

I can assure you that Oldham was totally detached from Manchester culturally and in mindset. Manchester was a city visited at Christmas. Prior to adulthood I visited Manchester maybe half a dozen times in my childhood. The problem with Mancunians is they try to rewrite history to promote the relevance of Manchester. Oldham and Bolton could easily have survived economically without Manchester. They had internationally recognised manufacturing companies. My point is Edgware would not have prospered without London.

By Elephant

Getting back to ‘Density’.

The cities of the North have a low residential Gross Density, even though there are individual pockets of very high net residential density surrounded by hinterlands of low grade commercial uses, vacant/derelict sites, and poor quality ‘public’ open space.

By UnaPlanner

@Elephant “mindset” and a partial view of commuting patterns is not a useful definition of a city. There is no question that Oldham and Rochdale would not be anywhere near as big without Manchester and their place within the division of work they specialised in as part of the whole system of cotton production. After all, if you can’t get your product to market, you have no business. The problem we have here is people misinterpreting a few green fields as signifying independence rather than the reality which is deep interdependence. It is a gross rewriting of history to characterise Oldham and Rochdale as independent ‘international’ settlements. Most people in Edgware did not commute to work in a central London office either.

By Anonymous

Interesting that the comment checking AI has approved the political bots…

By RE bots

    Not an AI – I wish! I felt that the “vote” comments were on topic in a political story like this one. That being said, a second one did sneak in there, so that has been removed! So if someone wants to do a Vote Conservative or Vote Labour or Green or Count Binface, you get one go at it. Enjoy.

    By Julia Hatmaker

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