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Housing issues 'best tackled by mayors'

Housing challenges across England could be best tackled by mayors, according to think-tank IPPR North.

Outlining its position in its report ‘Closer to Home’, the body suggests that the country's major cities are threatened with housing crises similar to that seen in London. The way to tackle this, it claims, is to pass housing powers to mayors.

The report states that, rather than a single housing market, there are in fact many smaller housing markets in England. To avoid problems with these markets, it would be best to install
housing control at a local level, it suggests.

Report author and researcher at IPPR North, Charlotte Snelling puts forward that mayors should have the ability to release public land in order to meet housing targets, as well as identify private sites to build on. Furthermore, they ought to be able to demonstrate how they can speed up the planning system, and how they can assist small and medium-sized businesses to gain entry to the market, as well as have the power to set planning fees.

The report also argues that in order to achieve success, it may be necessary for mayors to delve into greenfield or green belt space - and that they should have the power to do so.

Director of IPPR North Ed Cox states: "Brownfield land is limited, and it is best decided locally how to meet local housing needs. This includes difficult decisions about the green belt."

Additionally, the report claims that mayors would be best placed to address other common housing problems, such as how to help first-time buyers take their first step onto the property ladder.

In return for their efforts, local mayors ought to be given concessions such as the retention of stamp duty receipts on new-build properties - this could then be used to top-up housing investment funding, the report suggests.

Other suggestions include allowing local areas to set design code standards to improve the quality of the built environment, and to allow greater flexibility within housing funding streams.


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