This year’s Northern Housing Summit promised to be thought provoking, inspiring and Northern focussed with the launch of new research around poor-quality housing and health, contributions from high-level speakers including two Northern Mayors, Steve Rotheram and Andy Burnham, and discussions around the ‘new deal’ set out by the Green Paper. Over 100 delegates gathered in Manchester to attend our Summit – Beyond supply: creating Vibrant Communities in the North. With this event we wanted to look beyond just housing numbers and talk about thriving neighbourhoods and decent housing.

Our Chair, Tom Miskell kicked off the event with a welcome address providing a flavour of what was to come, soon followed by Tracy Harrison, our Deputy Chief Executive framing the context of Housing in the North.

Ed Ferrari, Director, CRESR, Sheffield Hallam University provided delegates with an update on Northern housing markets including affordability, rent prices and what should be next for strategic policies for housing in the North. He stated that ‘the questions of ‘what’ and ‘where’ are more important than ‘how much’ new housing is needed’ and that ‘supply is only part of the solution’. He then went on to talk about infrastructure and planning making the point that it should be less responsive and more visionary, emphasising the role of place-based regeneration.

Nicky Hawkins from the Frameworks Institute brought an out-of-sector perspective to the day looking at how to ‘reframe’ debates and build public support for change, drawing on recent case studies from the Joseph Rowntree Foundation and Crisis. She looked at the use of metaphor in reframing debates around homelessness and poverty and made the case for telling a new story to capture public awareness.

The Summit saw the Northern launch of a new piece of research: The Hidden costs of Poor Quality Housing in the North, commissioned by the NHC and written by the Smith Institute, an independent public policy think tank. In this session Paul Hackett, Director, the Smith Institute, Paul Fiddaman, Group Chief Executive, Karbon, Barbara Spicer, Chief Executive, Plus Dane and NHC Chief executive, Jo Boaden highlighted the initial findings discussing the scale of the problem and the increased health impacts of those living in homes that are not fit for purpose.

We then had a session on Healthy Placemaking by Andre Pinto, Public Health England (PHE) looking at recent work by PHE. It was a powerful presentation stressing the impact of house conditions and design on public health.

To round off the morning’s sessions Home Editor, BBC News, Mark Easton gave a talk answering the question: how can the North turn Brexit to its advantage? As stated by one tweet ‘the self-described “southern Jessie” had been given this tricky subject to present to a northern audience – in the absence of certainty anywhere he played this one for laughs – but points out political possibilities as the Government is distracted’.

The afternoon started with a politically charged session from Northern Mayors: Andy Burnham (Greater Manchester) and Steve Rotheram (Liverpool City Region).

Steve Rotheram was up first talking about how we end the ‘numbers at all cost’ approach to housebuilding and focus on building good quality housing and sustainable communities in the North. He said ‘we want to ensure we aren’t just building houses we’re building homes, we’re building communities, we’re building neighbourhoods’.

One tweet from the audience summed it up: ‘really punchy and challenging remarks from @MayorofGM at #NHCSUMMIT18 – real appreciation of the work of @GMhousing – reinforces the impact we can have by collaborating, and why we need to keep on working hard’.

Andy Burnham discussed how devolution will help deliver good quality housing in the North and revisited the founder of the NHS, Aneurin Bevan’s 70-year-old vision of marrying health and housing. He covered Homelessness, town centres and planning, the private rented sector referencing the ‘Hidden Costs’ research and stated that ‘too many people in Manchester and Liverpool are living in private rented accommodation that is beneath the decent homes standard’. The session was well received within the room and over social media, sparking a good level of debate in the panel discussion that followed.

The remainder of the afternoon allowed for professional practice sessions covering best practice examples of regeneration in Hattersley and Mottram from Onward Homes, Modular House Building with NHC Associate Paul Beardmore, Community Investment at the Core of Housing with HACT, The Future of Town Centres with MHCLG, regeneration case studies from Back on the Map and Sunderland City Council and Strategic Partnerships linking Health and Housing with Wakefield District Housing and Wakefield CCG.

The event closed with Jane Everton, MHCLG discussing the Social Housing Green Paper and providing an overview as well as looking at the key discussion points from an MHCLG perspective.

The event was sponsored by: