This month I celebrate 20 years in the city. I moved here to start my job as a trainee solicitor and I am proud to still call it my home – but there have been some unfavourable news stories for the region recently.
The bigger picture
The first ever GDP figures released for the UK regions revealed a contraction in the North West for the last quarter of 2018, with a drop of 0.7% and the North West being the only region where GDP fell.
This is against the backdrop of the Government confirming it is commissioning a review into whether and how HS2 should proceed. Large projects around stations in Crewe, South Manchester and Manchester Piccadilly are dependent on HS2 going ahead, as undoubtedly will the route between Manchester and Leeds.
Over the last few years I have also seen several housing associations alter plans for their new developments of affordable housing based on HS2 going ahead. No doubt these schemes would have to be reconsidered and reworked should it not be progressed, with additional funds and resources spent in doing so.
Housing funding challenges
More specific to the housing sector have been the reports on the Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government’s formula that decides how funding for housing is allocated and how it puts the North at a significant disadvantage in obtaining funding from the Housing Infrastructure Fund.
It is reported that 80% of the funds will go to areas that can demonstrate the highest affordability pressure, but many of these areas are in the south of the country and therefore other areas, including Manchester will lose out.
There is much criticism about the methodology used to allocate funding to enable the delivery of affordable housing projects. Housing associations are constantly looking for new and increasingly innovative ways to develop new housing, which will undoubtedly continue.
While there are reports on how the property market in the south of the country is slowing, our housing association clients tell us that it is very much business as usual in Manchester and the surrounding region, with associations having ambitious development plans that are not slowing. We are also seeing an increasing number of joint venture led developments in the North West, together with more traditional land-led and land-inclusive transactions.
The future prosperity of the city has challenges – but I believe with the right people working together to fight Manchester’s corner, we can deliver the housing the city and the wider region desperately needs.
- Lucy Worrall is partner and housing specialist at Anthony Collins Solicitors