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Manchester Mayor – ahead of the curve?

Andy Burnham’s electoral message on housing was simple: the then current series of ideas to build on green belt and build housing types that maximised developer’s profit is not the right approach to meeting housing need. As an alternative approach he advocated building in the towns that make up Greater Manchester, building at higher densities, and using CPO powers if necessary to enable councils to build the housing they say is needed.

Today’s speech by Theresa May at the Conservative Party conference echoes many of those ideas. She has strongly advocated the need for council housing, picking up a Conservative theme last trailed by Harold Macmillan in the 1950s.

Delivering volume housing in the timescales as envisaged can be achieved only by CPO and high density. There is a clear alignment between the emerging housing policies of the Conservative government and the approach advocated by Andy Burnham.

This is likely to be good news. It paves the way for the mechanisms required to deliver the housing that is needed – in Manchester and the country as a whole – which are for market intervention. It means that the approach behind Andy Burnham’s vision is in parallel with national government thinking, increasing the likelihood that the necessary powers will be put in place and used.

The deficit in meeting housing need requires urgent action. Perhaps now Andy Burnham and his team will feel empowered to progress with greater speed their proposals to deliver the housing that Manchester so urgently needs.

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