All Party Parliamentary Group for Housing in the North meets for end-of-year session

In December, the All Party Parliamentary Group for Housing in the North, for which the NHC acts as Secretariat, met for an online end-of-year wrap-up session. The meeting was organised to bring key stakeholders together to discuss the past and future of Levelling Up and advocate for a continued approach to tackling inequalities that appreciates the relationship between physical, social, and economic regeneration. 

Across 2022, the APPG has dedicated meetings to Levelling Up, with specific focus on the importance of good quality homes and neighbourhoods in the North within the agenda’s core aims of raising living standards, improving public services, restoring local pride, and empowering leaders and communities.  

In May 2022 The APPG met to discuss the White Paper’s ambition to raise living standards, with a focus on the interrelated challenges of the cost of living crisis and the energy efficiency of northern homes. In July, APPG members explored the relationship between housing quality and belonging, with a briefing on the Government’s A Fairer Private Rented Sector White Paper, underpinning the Mission to half non-decent rented housing by 2030. 

The meeting was opened by APPG Chair, Ian Mearns MP, and included an opening speech from NHC Chief Executive, Tracy Harrison, who set the scene for the session and detailed the key priorities for Levelling Up housing and communities in the North; committing and acting on the Levelling Up Mission to half non-decent rented homes, securing Parliamentary time to bring forward the Renters’ Reform Bill, and protecting the provision of affordable housing within the Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill. 

This APPG meeting featured a speaking slot from Adam Hawksbee, Interim Director of think tank Onward, who provided some detail on the Levelling Up White Paper and the progress made since it was published. Adam also explained what is needed for Levelling Up to succeed in practical terms. The session also included Director of Generation Rent, Alicia Kennedy (Baroness Kennedy of Cradley), who discussed the Fairer Private Rented Sector White Paper and wider reform of the private rented sector. Alicia highlighted the increase of tenants in the private rented sector in the North and what the sector needs from the Renters’ Reform Bill. Finally, RTPI Head of Policy Practice and Research, Richard Blyth, joined the session to provide an update on the Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill currently makings its way through parliament, with a focus on the planning aspects of the Bill.  

The APPG for Housing in the North is regularly attended by a healthy cohort of Members of Parliament representing northern constituencies, and members of the House of Lords with geographic connections to the North and/or an interest in housing. In addition to Parliamentarians, APPG meetings are attended by other invited stakeholders and Senior Leaders from the Northern Housing Consortium’s membership of Local Authorities, Housing Associations, and ALMOs.  


A post event-meeting pack for this session, as well further information on the APPG and its meetings can be found here: 

 If you wish to discuss the APPG further, or wish to attend future meetings, please contact Liam Gregson (Member Engagement Manager)  

Housing Standards & Enforcement – NHC Private Rented Sector Network to Meet

The Secretary of State for Levelling up Housing & Communities has written to all Local Authority Chief Executives and Council Leaders, outlining the urgent need to prioritise the improvement of housing conditions for those in rented accommodation.

The correspondence comes in light of the tragic death of Awaab Ishak as a result of mould in his family home. In the letter, the Secretary of State has reminded Local Authorities of their duties under the Housing Act 2004 to keep housing conditions under review with a view to identifying necessary action that may need to be taken.

Highlighting the Act, the Secretary of State has directed that Local Authorities have particular regard to category 2 damp and mould hazards, as outlined in the Housing Health and Safety Rating System, and also:

  • Supply the department with an assessment of damp and mould issues affecting privately rented properties in their areas, including the prevalence of category 1 and 2 damp and mould hazards;
  • Supply the department with an assessment of action you have identified that may need to be taken in relation to damp and mould issues affecting privately rented properties in your area.

The Secretary of State has also directed councils to set out how they are prioritising enforcement of housing standards more generally in their authority, across all tenures, including what plans you have to ensure adequate enforcement capacity to drive up standards in the private rented sector. This is to be supported by a range of data including:

  • How many damp and mould hazards you have remediated, compared to your assessment of the prevalence of these hazards;
  • How many times you have taken enforcement action to remedy damp and mould hazards and the form this has taken;
  • How many civil penalty notices have been issued in relation to non-compliance with enforcement action over damp and mould hazards; and;
  • How many prosecutions have been successfully pursued in relation to damp and mould hazards.

Improving and enforcing housing quality in the Private Rented Sector is a longstanding priority for Northern Housing Consortium members and our PRS Network meets regularly to discuss good practice and the challenges of resourcing effective enforcement of quality and support to vulnerable tenants.

The PRS Network meets again 15th December, 12.00 – 14.00, online via Zoom. The meeting will include a discussion on recent events and members response to the Secretary of State. At the meeting we will also be joined by colleagues at the Department of Levelling Up, Housing and Communities who will update attendees on their work improving the conditions and experiences of those in Supported Housing.

To attend, please register via MyNHC using the link below:

Northern authorities gain over £7m for brownfield land release

Northern councils have secured over £7m from the latest round of awards from the Department for Levelling Up, Housing, and Communities.

The government announced at the weekend that 41 councils would receive a share of nearly £35m from the £180m Brownfield Land Release Fund. The money is to be used to regenerate derelict council-owned sites. A total of 59 regeneration projects could build over 2,200 homes – including over 800 affordable homes.

The Northern allocation accounts for 22% of the funding pot. NHC data from the Northern Housing Monitor shows that the North has 23% of England’s brownfield housing potential with housing brownfield capacity for over 310,000 homes, however the overall cost of remediation of Northern brownfield land is £3.8 billion.

According to a statement from DLUHC in July, when the phase two bidding process opened, bids were to be assessed “on a number of gateway criteria including: market failure; deliverability; and value for money”, and would be prioritised based on an “assessment of the strategic case, innovation and consideration of the bid’s ability to meet the council’s Public Sector Equality Duty, combined with a place-based metric”.

In the North West, five councils secured a share of nearly £5m: Blackburn with Darwen Council, Chorley Council, Lancaster City Council, St Helens Council, and Wigan Council.

In the North East, Darlington and Sunderland Councils gained over £2m and Yorkshire and the Humber secured £258,000.

A project in Hull will see £175,000 allocated to “release land to deliver 10 new affordable homes for the local community, as part of the city’s regeneration drive.”

Lancaster City Council secured the biggest pot, receiving more than £2.7m, amounting to 37% of the Northern funding pot. Most of this money will go towards the city’s Canal Quarter regeneration project, which aims to build 580 homes and more than 75,000 sq ft of commercial space.

Funding from the second round of funding will be delivered through One Public Estate, a partnership between the Local Government Association, the Office of Government Property, and the Department for Levelling Up, Housing, and Communities.

DLUHC said that “the remaining £140 million is to be allocated over the next two years – creating up to 17,600 new homes in total across the country, as well as support up to 54,000 jobs in the sector”.

The full list of Northern Brownfield Land Release Fund Round Two awards:

  • Blackburn with Darwen Council: £220,000
  • Chorley Council: £650,000
  • Darlington Borough Council: £223,049
  • Harrogate Borough Council: £33,000
  • Hull City Council: £175,000
  • Lancaster City Council: £2,769,343
  • North East Lincolnshire Council: £50,000
  • St Helens Council: £812,142
  • Sunderland City Council: £1,943,657
  • Wigan Council: £506,168

Levelling up the Private Rented Sector

The government has confirmed that it remains “committed to introducing a Renters Reform Bill in “this session of Parliament” which ends in May 2023.

Government outlined its proposals for the Renters’ Reform Bill in A Fairer Private Rented Sector white paper released in June 2022. The paper builds on the Levelling Up White Paper and sets out plans to fundamentally reform the Private Rented Sector and level up housing quality. The proposed reforms for the private rented sector in England go much further than initially expected, with the government saying that the white paper “marks a generational shift that will redress the balance between landlords and 4.4 million private rented tenants.”

The Levelling Up, Housing and Communities Select Committee is holding an inquiry into the proposed reforms.

The inquiry will scrutinise the government’s plans to introduce a decent homes standard for the private rented sector; reform the system of tenancies and abolish no-fault evictions; reform the grounds on which landlords can take possession of their properties; and better protect tenants from unfair rent increases. According to the White Paper, nearly 11,000 householders in the private rented sector report having to move because the landlord put up their rent.

The inquiry will also explore the government’s proposals to set up a new ombudsman covering all private landlords, to speed up the court process and to clamp down on landlords who refuse to let to benefit claimants.

Fundamentally, the inquiry will ask the questions, will the proposals result in a fairer private rented sector?

The proposals tilt the balance in favour of the tenant and the inquiry will investigate whether this is a fair and balanced market, good for both landlords and for tenants.

The NHC submitted evidence to the inquiry agreeing that the White Paper represents the right direction for the sector, but that implementing a ‘Fairer Private Rented Sector’ will require an increased level of public service capacity and this will be an urgent factor in reform.

Significant new burdens will arise from the reforms, including enforcement of a new Decent Homes Standard and we have argued that an assessment is urgently needed to establish the resourcing needs across local authorities’ private sector housing function.

The inquiry has held two evidence sessions which can be viewed here

Rebalancing Northern Places

The Levelling Up White Paper set out twelve missions in support of key levelling up objectives. These outline the medium-term ambition for the Government. For the housing sector the role that housing plays in contributing positively to Levelling Up has been recognised, not just in new supply linked to job creation and growth, but also as a key part of regeneration and targeted levels of decency in rented housing.

Beyond the missions around home ownership, and decent standards, the housing sector connects to important economic and social impacts for its residents, communities. These impacts are multi-dimensional, measurable and can contribute to the wider Levelling Up ambitions.

A ‘left-behind’ area, in need of ‘levelling up’, is characterised by broad economic underperformance, which manifests itself in low pay and employment, leading to lower living standards in that area. The health of the local residents may also be relatively poor.  These characteristics are frequently the places that social housing providers are working in with over half of the most deprived 10% of local authorities located in the North.

Social housing providers are already providing services which rebalance communities in these key areas of inequity.  We have mapped member organisation activity against the levelling-up missions ensuring our member contributions are recognised, particularly in the area of employment and health.

Our report sets out detail on each levelling up mission explaining current activity in support of levelling up. Case studies offer an important insight into the activities of housing providers and demonstrate the variety of activities and the added value this provides for local communities.

Our aim is to build an understanding of the contribution social housing providers can make to the rebalancing agenda and making sure that the great work of our members is recognised.

We also discussed the relevance of the levelling up missions at our Levelling Up Conference: Housing at the Heart of a Rebalanced Country which took place on 14th July in Leeds where we brought together key stakeholders to define the debate on how best to achieve place-based regeneration.

Housing associations work across communities, including the most deprived neighbourhoods.  As organisations with a strong social purpose they do this because it is the right thing to do as well as making solid business sense to do it. As our report and the case studies show, the housing sector is already delivering positive work. By progressing this work across the Levelling Up missions social housing providers can maximise their impact in places.

Read the full policy brief here.

Keynote chapter – the North’s Private Rented Sector

New report reveals the need for urgent reform across private rented home sector. 

Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss are facing calls to accelerate reforms to protect tenants following a new report that reveals residents of private rented homes across the North of England face low standards, rising rents and a chronic lack of stability.

The Northern Housing Consortium (NHC) publishes the Northern Housing Monitor 2022 report to provide an up-to-date picture of housing standards across the north. It shows that for the 1.2 million (or 17.4%) northern private renter households almost a third (30%) of properties were of a ‘non-decent’ standard, with improvement over the last ten years solely due to an above England average 47% improvement in the North West housing stock.

Housing quality in both the North East and Yorkshire and the Humber has worsened over the decade, with volumes of non-decent accommodation increasing by 3.6% and 1.3%, respectively, up to 2020.

A total of 4.4 million households makes up England’s private rented sector, including 1.3 million households with children and 382,000 households over 65. The policy paper ‘A Fairer Private Rented Sector’ published by the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities in June concluded that “this is driving unacceptable outcomes and holding back some of the most deprived parts of the country.”

DLUHC has identified that over half (54%) of households spend more than 30% of their income on housing, including renter groups categorised as ‘families getting by’ and ‘low-income savers’.

Nationally, nine of the top ten neighbourhoods (and 43 of the top 100) with the highest concentrations of private renting in England in 2011 were in northern cities, indicating that northern renting tends to be more concentrated than in other parts of England.

The NHC report identifies that renters in Yorkshire and the Humber live in the lowest quality housing of any region in England, with Yorkshire relying more on the private rented sector than any region outside London.

Yorkshire’s private rented sector has the lowest standards in England, with rates of non-decency (37.6%) well above the English average of 22.8% and those in other Northern regions – the North East (28.2%) and the North West (23.9%).

The NHC is calling on the incoming Prime Minister to ensure that the Government delivers the Renters Reform Agenda and its Levelling Up Mission on housing quality. The Levelling Up White Paper published in February set out a ‘mission’ to halve the number of non-decent rented homes by 2030, a target confirmed in June’s Fairer Private Rented Sector White Paper.

The NHC represents 140 councils and housing associations across the North; its chief executive, Tracy Harrison, said:

“The Yorkshire and Humber region has the lowest standards of private rented accommodation of any region. It’s clear that for significant parts of the North the standards are already poor and getting worse.

“It is imperative that the new Prime Minister accelerates the Renters Reform Agenda and doesn’t let the standard of private rented housing in the North slide. Otherwise, the Government will fall way short of hitting its target of halving the number of non-decent rented homes by 2030. The need to level-up housing quality is vital, particularly across the North, where homes are older, suffer from a lack of investment, and the sector is crying out for support and proper regulation.

“While most people have a positive experience living in the private rented sector, the fact is that many residents are often vulnerable, with specific health and social care needs. The quality of the housing in the lower end of the sector is simply not up to standard and can exacerbate physical and mental health conditions to limit life chances further.

“The Government must deliver on the promises that have been made to Northern renters, and momentum must be maintained. Councils, landlords and renters all want to see a plan to boost quality in the North’s private rented sector.”

The private rented housing sector grew 36% between 2010 and 2020 and now houses 17% of Northerners. Given the expansion in the North of England, it is evident that the new stock that has come into the market has often been non-decent.

In addition to calling on the Government to push on with its plans to boost housing quality as part of the levelling-up agenda, with 54% of those in the private rented sector at high risk of fuel poverty, the NHC has outlined the need to increase the pace of energy efficiency upgrades to homes urgently.

The ongoing cost of living crisis will increase bills for those living in poorly insulated, energy inefficient rented properties. The latest predictions estimate the energy price cap will increase by 77% on October 1 to £3,500, and in January next year, it will rise even further.

The private rented sector keynote chapter is a taster of 2022’s comprehensive state-of-the region Northern Housing Monitor: the analysis you need, in one place. The full 2022 Monitor will be published in the Autumn – in the meantime, you can find 2021’s Monitor here.  The NHC is grateful to Gentoo and Yorkshire Housing for their support for 2022’s Northern Housing Monitor.  The Monitor is commissioned from Arc4 by the NHC.

Reforming the Private Rented Sector: Select Committee Launches Inquiry

The Northern Housing Consortium is asking for member views as part of their response to the House of Commons Levelling Up, Housing, and Communities Committee’s inquiry into Reforming the Private Rented Sector.

Launched last week, the inquiry will scrutinise the Government’s recent White Paper, A Fairer Private Rented Sector. The Paper outlines plans to, among other things: introduce a decent homes standard for the private rented sector; reform the system of tenancies and abolish no-fault evictions; reform the grounds on which landlords can take possession of their properties; and better protect tenants from unfair rent increases.


The Committee’s full Call for Evidence can be found HERE. The NHC would particularly like your views on the following questions.

  • Overall, what additional pressures will the proposals place on local councils, and how many of these will require new burdens funding?
  • What impact, if any, will the reforms have on the supply of homes in the PRS?
  • What should be included in the new decent homes standard and how easily could it be enforced?
  • How easily will tenants be able to challenge unfair rent increases under the proposals?
  • Does the PRS need its own ombudsman? If so, what powers should it have
  • Will the proposals result in more disputes ending up in the courts? If so, will the proposals for speeding up the courts service suffice?
  • Have the Government’s announcements already led to any changes in behaviour in the PRS?

Those wishing to contribute to the development of the NHC’s Inquiry response are also invited to short meeting of our PRS Network taking place Wednesday 10th August, 10.00 – 11.00, online. NHC members can confirm their attendance via MyNHC HERE.


The Government’s long-awaited announcements have been followed closely by the NHC’s PRS Network. Prior to the publication of the A Fairer Private Rented Sector the Network was joined by colleagues from the Department of Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, and can be read about HERE. The Group also convened in response to the Paper’s publication and again outlined their view of proposals as laudable, but lacking the necessary detail on how reforms will be implemented and deliver intended outcomes, with key concerns over capacity, joined up thinking, and enforcement tools being duplicated rather than rationalised.


Respond to the Consultation and Join the Conversation:

  • The NHC would welcome your views on the above questions, to be sent to us by 17.00, Monday 1st August.
  • You are not required to send us a fully formed, formal response; rough notes / bullet points outlining your thoughts would also be incredibly useful (and will not be shared wider). Please email
  • To join the meeting of the PRS Network to discuss and finalise the response to the LUHC Committee’s Inquiry, please confirm your attendance via MyNHC HERE

The NHC Private Rented Sector Network meets quarterly for all NHC members working in connection with, or with an interest in, private sector housing and private sector housing reform to discuss day-to-day challenges and track and respond to national policy development. All meetings are Chaired by Dr Julie Rugg, Senior Research Fellow, Centre for Housing Policy, University of York.

In addition to special meetings to develop consultation responses, the next meeting of the group is 20th September, 10.00 – 11.30, register via MyNHC HERE.

The Brownfield Land Release Fund

The Brownfield Land Release Fund will pledge up to £180 million capital grant funding to support The Government’s Levelling Up ambitions, it has been announced. The Fund will enable Councils to achieve these rebalancing ambitions and regenerating places by unlock land and developing renewed pride in place through newly empowered local leaders.


The Government have reiterated their stance that they are keen to prioritise the delivering high-quality new homes across England, a stance welcomed by councils across our region who are keen to address long-standing shortages in local stock and delivery of homes, in order to meet local needs and address their placemaking priorities. The aim of this programme is to identify and realise the potential of small, council-owned brownfield sites which have been found to have restricted viability in the past. The fund aims to utilise public assets to stimulate the growth of innovative delivery and the adoption of modern methods of constructions, supporting SMEs where possible.

NHC data from the Northern Housing Monitor shows that the housing brownfield capacity across the North is over 300,000 homes across 5,158 sites and comprising 7,571 hectares, and that remediating brownfield housing land could cost £3.8 billion.

The funding is designed to eradicate these viability issues, which include but are not limited to site levelling, groundworks, demolition, remediation; provision of small-scale infrastructure; highways works or other access challenges; and addressing environmental constraints. The first stage of applications opens shortly, with £40m available and first assessment point deadline for applications on 19th August. There will be £60 and £80m off funding available in the second and third stages through until 2025. All local authorities across England are eligible to apply.


Levelling Up Conference – Housing at the heart of a rebalanced country

In partnership with Karbon Homes and Bolton at Home, the NHC hosted the Levelling Up Conference on the 14th July in Leeds city centre. We brought together senior leaders for a full day conference to advance housing’s role in the core levelling up missions of improving public services, boosting living standards, restoring local pride, and empowering communities. The conference displayed the NHC’s ability to convene the sector and wider stakeholders in order the advance the voice of housing in the North on topical issues. NHC’s Chief Executive, Tracy Harrison, provided the opening address and emphasised the importance of continuing to push the levelling up agenda amid national political instability, before welcoming Lord Kerslake to give his keynote address.

Keynote address – Lord Kerslake

Lord Kerslake began his keynote address by declaring that levelling up is alive and is here to stay, but is not the highest priority for government, and other political priorities are likely to come to the fore. He reminded everyone of the many issues facing the new leadership, with war in Ukraine, Covid-19, cost of living, backlog in our public services and balance of payments amongst other issues – this will likely consume new leadership and displace priority of levelling up.

Lord Kerslake sees levelling up as a combination of both an economic analysis of this country and a political project. The political project came from the 2019 election, the sense of left behind places created a political opportunity to penetrate the red wall. He stated that this agenda doesn’t lend itself to quick resolve and that it’s a long term project through numerous political cycles. He also stated that the Levelling Up White Paper was a landmark moment in the agenda, featuring strong analysis on the system failures on why the agenda hasn’t moved forward. However, Kerslake argued that the White Paper was weak on certain detail such as on housing and pointed out that the White Paper was particularly week on execution – noting it consisted of fragmented funding and competitive bidding.

Kerslake moved on to ask where does housing sit in all of this? – he said that housing’s key issues, the ‘4 S’s’, are currently – service, sustainability, supply and safety. He remarked “we need to continue to make the argument that housing is an essential infrastructure”. Lord Kerslake gave a rallying call to all those who work in communities, transport, health, retrofit, housing and on the green agenda – that they need to have common cause and work together rather than working in silos as all these issues intersect and need to be linked. Finally, he asserted the need for flexibility of funding provided by government, even if there is not a substantial amount to give to combined authorities he said that they should have the power to decide where it goes.


The challenges and opportunities of levelling up

Ian Ankers, Executive Director Business Development, Bolton at Home – The starting point: A view from Bolton

Utilising a map of Greater Manchester showing unemployment, Ian explained the correlation between boroughs with highest unemployment linking to poor health, poor housing and high Covid-19 excess death figures. Ian argued that decisions have to be made about where specifically to target, saying that funding can’t just be given to Bolton for example, where the east and west are divided in terms of deprivation and unemployment, it needs to be more targeted within the area. He then went on to mention the resource gap in places such as Bolton, and confirmed the need for devolution to provide support and funding to targeted programs. He noted the importance of community investment in helping to bridge the resource gap, and detailed Bolton at Home’s ‘Greenworks’ project. The project will provide skills training for retrofitting homes, giving people the chance to learn how to improve homes with low carbon technology. It will also provide carbon reduction education to raise awareness of climate issues and understanding of the need to retrofit homes. The training will help to create opportunity and better outcomes in the area by assisting residents to gain key skills – improving employment, education, cost of living, and bridging the resource gap.


Charlotte Carpenter, Executive Director of Growth and Business Development, Karbon – Liveability: What makes a place worth living in?

Charlotte explained ‘liveability’ and the factors that determine it – including cost of living, health, transport, housing, salaries, crime, and government spending. She declared we need to create genuinely liveable places for communities, somewhere they feel proud to live. She asserted the importance of levelling up moving beyond the typical rhetoric of ‘jobs, jobs, jobs’ and major projects, saying we need to ensure political rhetoric actually has meaning in people’s lives. Charlotte stated that housing providers are anchor institutions that play a central role in communities and are uniquely placed to forward the rebalancing agenda. She went on to illustrate the positive work achieved through Karbon’s Stanley skills hub project. The Stanley project has provided a place for the community to come and develop skills and get advice on wellbeing and employment. Using the UK Community Renewal Fund, Karbon have been able to offer new start placements, providing paid work experience for people to upskill and improve confidence to get into long term employment. Charlotte highlighted the success of this project as many placements have ended early as people have found long term employment elsewhere. She closed by calling for anchor institutions, such as HA’s, to think big and use the big role they hold in left behind places to work together.


Naz Parkar, Director of Homes and Neighbourhoods, Kirklees Council Tackling Inequality: Housing as the lynchpin between cost of living, climate, and health

Naz began by stating that 55% of properties in Kirklees are band C EPC, and asked if C is ambitious enough. He moved on to discuss the biggest concerns facing Kirklees residents, noting that one in five homes don’t meet decency standard and that two thirds of Kirklees tenants claim means tested benefits. Naz said this highlights that decarbonisation is not residents’ biggest concern, the cost of living is huge and further uplifts to come. He detailed some of the action taken in Kirklees – understanding the needs of tenants through place based engagement sessions to understand what tenants value most about their homes. He also detailed a 125-unit low carbon housing development and further work on retrofit and upskilling to create job opportunities. Naz argued that none of this is possible without national government offering policy certainty, appropriate funding programmes that recognise true costs and a shift in the planning system. However, he said that locally this shouldn’t stop us, we can get on with retrofit strategy, climate energy action plan, regional collaboration and production of a compelling offer to engage government, supply chain, and our communities.


Levelling Up: Inside Housing debate

The Inside Housing debate was chaired by Inside Housing’s Editor, Martin Hilditch, and featured Brian Robson (NHC), Charlotte Carpenter (Karbon), Ian Ankers (Bolton at Home) & Naz Parkar (Kirklees Council). Brian Robson opened by stating that levelling up is a newish brand for a very old issue. He also echoed Lord Kerslake in saying that what is missing most in the Levelling-up and Regeneration Bill is execution and delivery mechanisms – no new decent homes standards or detail on how to reduce carbon emissions. Ian Ankers said the infrastructure levy is weak and undefined and that tensions are going to be created on this. He also noted that housing is very varied in terms of quality and decarbonising potential, is not the same across the board so upgrades need to be targeted correctly.

Naz Parkar noted that capacity is a major issue in local authorities and is not going to get better – austerity hit very hard, many areas have struggled in recruitment market to rebuild capacity and salaries aren’t competitive enough. He urged housing providers to share knowledge and queried whether HA’s could offer to produce housing strategies for local authorities as LA’s would welcome this with ongoing capacity issues. Parkar also stated that CA Mayors having control on the funding pot is a key and also said that devolution is often about the powers and flexibility that they get rather than the funding. Charlotte Carpenter highlighted that housing tends not to feature in debates on economic development, housing is rarely embraced as a driver of the economy. We need to put housings role in rebuilding economies at the centre of the agenda, in a proactive way. Finally, Naz Parkar discussed rent payments and called for housing providers to find a solution on this before it causes a standoff. He said that if housing providers go for double digit rent settlement, they’re part of the problem, not the solution.


What next for place and placemaking? – George Payiatis, Senior Urban Designer, Create Streets

George began by highlighting the importance of how residents feel about their area, he noted that everyone knows what a nice street looks like. He explained that Create Streets are pushing back on reliance of cars and roads, arguing that we have to be more sensible with how we design our estates and streets. He questioned whether every household need two cars and two parking spaces and asserted that you can include parking in the streetscape that is overlooked and blends in, meaning it isn’t a ‘concrete nightmare’. George went on to highlight why design and placemaking matter for residents, saying that health and wellbeing are reliant on place. Environment and beauty of surrounding area impact our lives greatly so it’s vital we get placemaking right for residential areas. He also stated the importance of social interactions in communities and providing spaces that help to create cohesion where communities can connect. People are more likely to connect on streets with less cars, smaller roads and front gardens providing easier access to each other and walkable neighbourhoods with a sense of community. George also highlighted the negative impact of segregating social housing within estates, stating that social housing should be integrated, or else could cause segregation and discourage pride of place.

During the afternoon, delegates were given the opportunity to join one of three themed workshops. Workshop 1 was titled ‘Pay, jobs and living standards’ and centred on housing providers and employability. The session was chaired by Christine Paxton (Karbon), with a panel consisting of Cedric Boston (CEO, Unity HA), Stuart Clarke (Your Homes Newcastle), Naomi Clayton (Learning and Work Institute) and Karel Williams (University of Manchester).

Workshop 2 focused on ‘Local pride & belonging’, discussing regeneration neighbourhoods to restore community vibrancy. The workshop was chaired by Ian Ankers with contribution from Tom Bridges (ARUP) and Charlie Norman (CEO, MSV).

Workshop 3 looked at ‘Empowering communities’ and working with citizens to improve local agency. This final workshop was chaired by Naz Parkar, with a panel of Jessie Joe Jacobs (Involve), Tiffany Holloman and Andrew Wilson – Co-Directors at Same Skies Think Tank.


The full day conference came to a close with Tracy Harrison, Charlie Norman (Group Chief Executive, MSV) and the chairs from each workshop, reflecting on the points made and key themes throughout the day. All agreed on the importance of working together and bringing a compelling offer to government to ensure that they are engaged and willing to provide funding. A common theme of the day was the link between decent housing, health, unemployment and education – and the need for these to be addressed collectively if the levelling up agenda is to progress. The projects detailed by Ian, Charlotte & Naz at their respective housing providers illustrated what can be achieved at a local level through community engagement and understanding the issues that residents see as a priority. Tracy remarked that she felt the conference was timely, with the cost of living crisis and current instability in government, ensuring that the new Conservative leadership will continue to advance the levelling up missions is vital.


The conference resource page is available now. Follow this link for a full event summary, presentation slides and short videos of the speakers discussing the themes of the day