Commission set up to tackle regeneration challenges in the north and midlands

Over the next 18 months, areas in the north and midlands which may have been in decline are set to be visited in the search for answers on how they can be made into better places to live and thrive. 

The Great Places Commission launched by the National Housing Federation (NHF) will look to produce recommendations on how residents, the government, councils and private companies can regenerate places for the better. It highlights how the housing crisis which continues to grip the country plays out differently depending on location and each area will have specific requirements to improve.

While housing affordability is a major problem in the south, issues such as inadequate public transport and infrastructure tend to play a bigger role in the north. The commission will specifically investigate how housing can work with communities and authorities to create or rebuild great places to live across the country. 

The NHF has launched the commission now as it claims that while increasing supply is vital for the government, the influx of homes needs to be underpinned by revitalising areas that might not be reaching their full potential.  

Ruth Davison, executive director of public impact at NHF, said: “Housing associations have rightly been focused on driving up housing delivery, but lots of houses don’t a great place make. There are loads of places that we own and manage already and towns that we’re invested in and we need to focus on those too. This is exactly what the commission plans to do.”

What is hoped to be achieved?

  • Capture the knowledge and expertise from within and outside the housing sector, and use this to share good practice and influence Government policy
  • Demonstrate that housing associations are key local economic partners and can make an important contribution to delivering thriving and resilient communities
  • Engage with stakeholders from across the political spectrum, organisations within the housing sector and beyond, and local communities to explore how we can work together to create great places to live.

The commission will be made up of a 12-person panel, comprising of leaders across the sector with direct experience of regeneration in the region. These will include Angela Lockwood, chief executive of Northstar, Mark Henderson, chief executive of Home Group, and Sinead Butters, chief executive of Aspire Housing and chair of Placeshapers.

They will visit great and struggling places in each region across the Midlands and North, where they will engage with residents, mayors, councillors and academics amongst others in order to publish recommendations. 

“The commission will visit places from across the county with an enquiring, open mind,” Davison added. “I’m from Hartlepool and people might walk around the places that I love in that town and think that they are a bit crummy, truthfully, and ostensibly they might be. But they have value to me. And only people who live in communities understand the kind of value that’s there already, the assets that are there already – historical, cultural or whatever.”

The first commission visit will be in Liverpool at the end of the month.

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