NW 2015: Know your colours

How did you vote at the last election? Do you think it made a difference? Do you care? Whether or not you bothered to turn out to place your cross last time, having an interest in politics is going to be crucial in 2015 both nationally and locally, Nick Payne, managing director of developer Nikal, writes.

Like it or not the first half of the year is going to be dominated by the looming poll in early May and the subsequent fall out.

Jim Hancock has already explained in this NW 2015 series how the current political landscape could throw up some unlikely pairings if the main players have to align themselves with minority parties in order to form a Government.

The detailed manifestos of each of the political contenders may not be top of your Christmas wish list but they probably should be. Forewarned is forearmed and we need to look deeper than the election headlines.

Those that understand the detail, the underlying policies and direction of all the political parties, look to find any policies that have cross party support, will be the ones best able to plan and prosper.

Whatever the political fall-out I believe there will be two to three months of no action, a never ending Bank Holiday feel where deals, especially those involving the sale of Government land or stock, will be put on hold.

We may be looking forward to some time off next week but come 2 January there is going to be a rush to get everything through and finalised by the end of February.

Business hates uncertainty and there will be plenty of that come spring/summer so better to get things signed off well ahead of the polls.

While politics nationally may bring uncertainty the political landscape of the North West is thankfully more stable and the recent focus on the power of cities has given confidence to both developers and funds.

While the very welcome Devo Manc deal still needs ratifying it contains clear policies that have cross-party support with the delivery of residential developments top of the list. We simply don't have enough decent places to live in this country and 2015 will see a number of true private rented schemes coming forward delivering large, quality developments under one landlord. PRS has been talked about a lot in 2014 but 2015 is the year it will happen and cities like Manchester and Liverpool and Birmingham will be the test beds.

While the detail of devolution is still to come the work of the Greater Manchester Combined Authority goes on and again it will pay to look at the detail of what is already happening. GMCA is currently reviewing the provision of housing across Great Manchester as a whole. Which boroughs have the land capacity, the infrastructure and the political will to accommodate often controversial residential development?

It is the first time housing has been considered on this regional scale and presents the authority with an opportunity to be ambitious not only in terms of numbers but in design standards.

London used the global rush to invest and develop in the capital as an opportunity to bring in minimum standards in terms of space and amenity and design and I believe the combined authority has the chance to do the same.

I know Greater Manchester does not like following London in anything but just as our new Mayor will be a better and bolder version than theirs so too should our housing planning policy.

We are on the brink of seismic political change both locally and nationally – and should grasp opportunities to leave lasting legacies.

The North West will come of age in 2015 – we have to show we have grown up well.

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