Greater Manchester, the UK’s second biggest economy, sits at the heart of the Northern Powerhouse and is playing a key role in a growing, rebalanced UK economy. Since the Greater Manchester Devolution Agreement was signed in November 2014, the focus has largely been on issues such as transport, employment and skills. Housing and planning issues, fundamental to growth and social wellbeing, have been little mentioned.
Pressure on families
However, Greater Manchester is on the cusp of a housing crisis. A shortfall in the number of new homes built during the last decade, combined with a growing population and rising house prices, have left many local people priced out and unable to buy or rent a property. 34% of young working adults in Greater Manchester cannot afford a home of their own and rents across the region are rising, causing social housing waiting lists to lengthen. There are now more than 80,000 people waiting for social housing in Greater Manchester, yet only 2,000 affordable homes are being built every year.
A threat to local economies
The results don't just affect individual families. A shortage of the right homes, in the right places and the right price impacts the wider economy. In Greater Manchester, there were 28,000 fewer homes built in the last decade than were originally planned for and just 4,160 homes were completed in 2013/14, down from 5,350 in 2012/13. Construction of these additional 28,000 homes over the last ten years would have helped to employ over 120,000 people, support 1,120 apprenticeships, graduates and trainees and generate over £280m in tax revenues. Greater Manchester is set to create over 260,000 new jobs by 2031, but economic growth is under threat if not enough homes are available for the people who fill these jobs.
What needs to happen?
Greater Manchester is making good progress on bringing forward development of houses on currently derelict sites through the new Greater Manchester Housing Fund. However, we also need to look at identifying land for housing across the region to deliver good quality homes where people live. The Greater Manchester Spatial Framework represents a once in a generation opportunity to get this right and prevent a full-blown, London-style housing crisis in Greater Manchester.