This City's maiden scheme is on Rodney Street in Ancoats. Credit: via MCC

Manchester updates housing strategy, calls for planning reform

The city council’s executive member for housing wants the government to make changes to national planning policy to help the authority achieve its aim of delivering more affordable homes in the city centre. 

Manchester has been criticised in the past for not enforcing its 20% affordable housing policy during the planning process, but Cllr Gavin White told Place North West that local councils need more support to enforce such policies. 

“We are a little bit constrained by the NPPF, which says the developers can make 20% profit before they have to contribute to affordable so that informs the viability,” White explained. 

“We would ask for reform of that centrally so that we have a few more powers locally to get more affordable housing through the viability process. Politically, our ambition is to do that.” 

White’s call comes as Manchester City Council prepares to put a refreshed 10-year housing strategy before its scrutiny committee next week, ahead of final sign-off in July. 

The strategy, which White describes as “ambitious” sets out plans to deliver 36,000 new homes in Manchester over the next decade, in a bid to keep pace with a growing population that has increased by 31% since 2000. 

White wants to see changes to national planning policy. Credit: via MCC

“Manchester’s growth in recent years has presented real challenges to the housing sector,” White said. 

“We know that we need to build more houses of all types in every part of the city to meet demand. To achieve this, we’ll need the support of our partners in both the public and private sector.” 

Of the 36,000 new homes proposed, 10,000 will be designated as affordable. The strategy also sets out a vision for the delivery of 3,000 affordable properties in the city centre itself. 

Manchester City Council will deliver some of those affordable homes through its newly established housing vehicle This City and others will come from registered providers such as Clarion, which is redeveloping part of the former Boddington’s Brewery site on Great Ducie Street, and L&Q, which is involved in the £4bn Victoria North project. 

The rest, it is hoped, will be delivered by private developers. 

“What we try and do is meet with developers early, even before they put a planning application in and say, ‘this is what we want, can you get on board with that?’” White said. 

As well as delivering new homes, Manchester’s refreshed housing strategy proposes a major retrofitting programme. The city council aims to upgrade a third of Manchester’s 70,000 social homes by 2032. 

This initiative aims to reduce the cost of bills for residents and support the authority’s ambition of becoming a zero carbon city by 2038. 

White said that residents in Manchester’s first zero carbon social rent homes in Beswick reported a 70% reduction in their energy bills. 

Clarion is one of the housing providers currently active in Manchester. Credit: via planning documents

Another notable inclusion in the refreshed strategy is the introduction of the Manchester Living Rent.  

This is a level of affordability that is used by the council’s home building company, This City and Manchester’s 16 affiliated housing associations. 

It is an amount of rent that is set at or below the Local Housing Allowance level and aims to help residents on low incomes pay their rent. 

White’s aim is that this initiative is ultimately adopted by private sector developers, too. 

“It is a bit of an ask and we don’t have any sort of legislation to force them to do that. But we’d love them to get on board with that, as well.” 

Other key principles of Manchester’s new housing strategy include:  

Increasing the number of homeowners – By increasing the number of shared ownership and Rent to Buy homes delivered, the city council aims to help 15,000 more people to get on the property ladder in the next decade.  

Improve the quality of homes in the private rented sector – The city council aims to achieve this by clamping down on rogue landlords, introducing selective licensing and working with campaign groups to resolve all fire safety issues.  

Work to end homelessness and provide affordable housing for all – The increased provision of affordable homes and supported housing aims to reduce the time residents spend on the housing register. 

Your Comments

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Could someone explain to me exactly what ‘affordable’ actually means ?

The term ‘affordable housing’ is thrown around freely – as in this article – but what are we talking about ?

Is it related to average house price, or is it related to average income in an area, one-or-the-other, both, or something else ?

Is an affordable house in Stockport or Trafford the same thing as one in Oldham or Wigan ?

Et cetera…

By AltPoV

Call me simplistic, but I don’t understand this insistence on having affordable housing in the city centre….what constitutes an affordable home anyway? I can’t afford to live in the city centre, so I live were I can afford to, seems like common sense to me.

Finally surely it makes more sense to build affordable housing away from the city centre were build costs would be lower. That way you’d get more bang for you buck…..

By Man man

A number of observations

The Council’s definition of the “city centre” stretches beyond the Mancunian Way, Great Ancoats Street inner relief road boundaries that most people would describe as the city centre. Don’t be too surprised if that boundary is further expanded.

The Politicans are now saying that they want to reduce developer profit so that they can extract more contributions for affordable housing. Can’t wait to see that argued through a Local Plan Public Enquiry – if it succeeds then the only outcome is less homes being built by the private sector in the city and a failure to deliver any housing targets that may be set.

The private sector supporting the delivery of Living Rents – I think the Government intends that the new Levy will be a straight forward replacement of the current S106 arrangements and the haggling over on-site / off-site contributions. Have the Town Hall missed that!

By Anonymous

Where do you expect the cleaners and security and all other essential staff needed in city centre to live if you don’t have affordable housing in city and they certainly ain’t going to be able to afford to commute given sky rocketing fuel prices and train tickets

By Anonymous

Well MCC actively deterred affordable housing which set a precedent. Then, hey presto, you have sky high land values and developers able to challenge any contributions on viability grounds.

This problem was created by MCC, they are just blaming the government, as usual, for their own failures.
This is a problem across the entire MCC area, not just in the centre.

By 1981

People asking about the definition of affordable housing are advised to read Annex 2 of the NPPF. Sadly, the government’s definition does not link maximum prices/rents to incomes so, largely, the more unaffordable market housing becomes the less affordable ‘affordable housing’ becomes.

By M56User

The lack of affordable delivery isn’t just down to developer profit as many of the approved schemes with very limited affordable housing contributions already claim to be making less than 20% profit.

The real issue is land values, as in the absence of a Local Plan which specifies particular uses for individual sites landowners will always sell to the highest and best use, and if that is not residential because of planning obligations costs then they will in turn consider commercial, hotel, last mile logistics etc.

The Council themselves have benefitted quite spectacularly from this policy vacuum when it suits them…..

By Henry George

It should be pointed out that the land value the developer paid for the is not taken into account during the viability process, so this is not the issue. The question should be around spiraling build costs and how in a world that build costs keep increasing how can affordable housing ever be delivered on “excess” developer profit?!

By Anonymous

A full time wage is more than enough to be able to live in Manchester,

By Cal

M56Iser – I think you’ve missed the point I was making; Councils are using different definitions of ‘affordable housing’ and whichever is applied, they mean hugely different things in different parts of GM.

By AltPoV

Need to build more council bungalows in Wythenshawe.

By Anonymous

Leasehold Reform is needed before any shared ownership scheme is “fair” for purchasers.
The cladding scandal has shown own unfair – the purchaser is responsible for 100% responsible for repair. Very unfair.

By Rosemary Aikman

Come on now this is quite simple really……Manchester needs more homes…… because If there aren’t enough in all sectors, as is currently the case, they become more expensive. This isn’t about planning policy, it’s about a successful city, where people want to be and supply and demand. Build many more or our growth comes to an end

By Anonymous

For the info of those asking, ‘affordable’ means 80% of the market rate.

By Active Travel Trev

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