Cities in the North are increasingly proving they have what it takes to rise to the challenge of the Northern Powerhouse initiative but, outside Manchester, they lack the quality of leadership required to handle devolution, according to Andrew Marston, national research director at CBRE.
Speaking to an invited audience of property people this morning at a market insight briefing held at Bridgewater Hall, Marston set out “five crucial factors for success” of the Northern Powerhouse initiative. They are:
- Infrastructure-driven growth: especially important the link between cities, which Marston conceded was a long-term objective
- Global capital seeking yield: UK property represents an attractive destination for overseas investment, illustrated this week with announcements during Osborne’s trip to China
- Talent and new sectors: graduate retention is getting healthier in the North as the soaring cost of living in London spells a new phase for regional cities, where young professionals are less likely to head south. Initiatives in digital and creative sectors, such as new Tech North quango, will help
- Place-making and quality of life: Northern cities are improving their cultural offer and investing in their centres, making themselves more attractive to occupiers
- Leadership through devolution: only Greater Manchester, said Marston, shows the co-operation between local authorities required to form a successful combined authority and convince Government to devolve power. Birmingham and Yorkshire authorities are getting there, he added.
In the Q&A after the presentations Marston said poor civic leadership and the inability of councils to work together was the main weakness currently holding back Northern city regions. That and the long-term challenge of infrastructure investment to bring road and rail to the speed and capacity needed to properly join up cities.
Also presenting was William Church, investment director at CBRE, and fund manager of the North West Evergreen fund.
CBRE is due to publish a research paper on the Northern Powerhouse by the end of the year.