Government withdraws £68m housing deal
The Government has told Greater Manchester that the City Region will no longer be receiving a £68m brownfield housing fund, following the reduction of housing targets included in the rewritten Spatial Framework.
The Outline Housing Package, agreed in 2017, included a land fund of up to £50m to support the remediation of brownfield land, £10.25m to deliver affordable homes at the Collyhurst estate, and £8m in capacity funding to support setting up a delivery team.
The money and powers were offered on the basis that Greater Manchester provides 227,200 homes over a 20-year period, a figure included in the previous draft of the GMSF and the Greater Manchester Industrial Strategy.
Following the rewrite of the GMSF, the figure has been reduced to 200,980 homes. It is understood that as this is 11% below the previous figure, the Government has written to the Greater Manchester Combined Authority confirming that the deal is no longer on the table.
Greater Manchester leaders, including Mayor Andy Burnham, have defended the change as a response to the reduction in Green Belt release in the plan, and have criticised Government for sending mixed messages about population estimates, and the level of autonomy each region should have to set its own targets.
Talking to Place North West during MIPIM, Burnham said that while civil servants had set “a hard line” that if Greater Manchester didn’t stick to the higher housing numbers it would lose the £68m funding, Housing Minister Kit Malthouse had then suggested it was wrong for Government to pressure local authorities to deliver specific targets.
Without the Housing Package, the City Region is still able to access funding from Homes England, which includes a £600m small sites fund to support councils and developers to release smaller sites.
According to the Housing the Powerhouse coalition of housebuilders and land promoters, which has consistently called for higher housing targets, the decision by Government is an opportunity for GM politicians to negotiate an “even better deal”.
Housing the Powerhouse spokesman Rob Loughenbury, of Lexington Communications, said: “The development industry supports the creation of a GM Plan, including the focus on promoting high quality, healthy and affordable communities.
“We also recognise the difficult political compromises that have had to be made. But we have consistently argued that the assessment of overall housing need is not aligned with the Combined Authority’s more ambitious statements about economic growth. It would be a shame and a significant backwards step if Greater Manchester has lost its £68m brownfield housing package as a result of this.
“If the housing deal is no longer on the table, Greater Manchester must rise to the challenge of negotiating a fresh housing package that reflects its ambition to tackle the housing crisis and support the growth of a global city. The question of overall housing need should be revisited, along with whether the right mixture of homes is planned to meet the aspirations of residents.”