The housing crisis isn’t a question of supply vs regeneration – we need both
The housing soundbite is supply. Politicians fall over themselves to argue for more and more housing numbers which don’t work everywhere. The housing crisis in Blackburn, Margate and Stoke is very different to that inside the M25.
This is not a North versus South issue. It’s far more complicated than that. It is an issue of housing markets which reflect local economies. House prices in York are over double those in Hull but they are less than 50 miles apart.
I’m also not arguing that we don’t need new supply, or even worse that it’s a simple question of re-provision versus new supply. We need both. My career started working in Yorkshire mining villages where there were some terrible housing conditions. People often didn’t care if their home was new or regenerated, as long as it was a great place to live. Perhaps we need to think about the issue differently and see regenerated homes as new supply in themselves?
So why build in markets that are struggling? At Together Housing Group, it’s part of our DNA and what the communities we serve expect from us. In Accrington we’re working with developer PlaceFirst to provide new 2, 3 and 4 bed homes in former derelict terraced streets. On a larger scale, we’re working with Salford Council on a complex long term plan to transform Pendleton. This will create 1,500 new build homes and ensure 1,250 existing homes are refurbished.
Some housing associations in weaker housing markets are already making difficult choices. Accent plans to sell 160 homes in County Durham on the open market after attempts to sell them for £1 to other social sector landlords failed. We don’t hear enough about this kind of housing crisis.
So – my call is to think about the housing crisis everywhere. Any long term plan for housing must give equal importance to new homes created through regeneration as to new build homes.
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