The Commission on Prosperity and Community Placemaking published its final report last week, setting out a plan for levelling-up at neighbourhood level. The Commission, convened by the influential Create Streets Foundation, called for investment in the physical and social fabric of left-behind places.
Chaired by Toby Lloyd, former special advisor to Prime Minister, Theresa May, and supported by NHC members Karbon Homes, Livin and RBH, the Commission called for a new Community Right to Buy giving communities the power to buy empty or derelict buildings, and for dedicated ‘improvement districts’ to reinvent town centres and residential neighbourhoods – all backed up by a £2bn Community Wealth Fund to support the most left behind places to develop their own solutions.
The Commission also called for ‘urgent action’ to kickstart the retrofit of homes in left-behind places. Noting that ‘The House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee, the Confederation of British Industry, the National Housing Federation and the Northern Housing Consortium, have all called on the Government to bring forward the £3.8bn Social Housing Decarbonisation Fund at the next Spending Review, so that it can be used to build retrofitting skills, capacity and supply chains. This will then underpin decarbonisation of the nation’s housing stock across all tenures, delivering cost savings at scale.’ The Commission recommended that the £3.8bn Social Housing Decarbonisation Fund is launched immediately.
Local Government capacity was also considered by the Commission. Noting NHC evidence on the disproportionate reductions in local government housing capacity in the North since 2010/11, the Commission called for Government to ‘guarantee local authorities in left behind places ten years of core revenue funding certainty’.
Commenting, NHC Executive Director for Policy and Public Affairs, Brian Robson, said:
“With the Spending Review due next month, this influential report couldn’t have launched at a better time. We’re delighted to see the Commission pick up on NHC evidence, and warmly endorse their recommendations on retrofit and local authority revenue funding.”
Paul Fiddaman, Commissioner, Chief Executive of Karbon Homes and Chair of the Northern Housing Consortium said:
“We want to see greater investment in communities that have been left behind for far too long, with residents at the heart of a new programme of regeneration designed to transform these areas into thriving neighbourhoods. The decarbonisation agenda, in particular, brings an opportunity to not only improve the quality and energy efficiency of homes in these neighbourhoods but also to bring new skills and job opportunities to people living there.”
Gareth Swarbrick, Commissioner and CEO of Rochdale Boroughwide Housing said:
“I’m delighted to have been part of the Commission and to help shape the recommendations in this report. We have seen as a mutual housing society that some of the most meaningful and lasting changes are those led by communities themselves – and there are some great examples of this within the report. That’s why we need long-term, flexible regeneration funding to support those communities understanding that what works best might be different in every neighbourhood.”