Chancellor George Osborne today announced plans to give English cities greater powers over transport, planning, housing and policing in exchange for accepting elected mayors, hoping to close the economic gap between the North and the South.
Ajay Jagota of North East-based sales and lettings firm KIS has outlined the property powers he thinks this transfer should feature, including:
- The creation of a housing investment fund to address current and future housing needs.
- Empowering the region to explore creative solutions to meet housing needs, such as encouraging more small scale or even single developments and redeveloping unused commercial properties as domestic ones
- The ability to amend or opt out of legislation such as the recent Mortgage Market Review when it impacts disproportionately negatively upon the region.
- A new collaborative framework between private and social landlords.
Research from Rentify this week predicted that the cost of renting in London to rise to £73,630 a year by 2033, compared to just £9540 in the North East – making the region an increasingly attractive place to live and work.
As the UK’s most innovative property firm, KIS is famous for being the first letting agents in the UK to abolish deposits, replacing them with a one-of-a-kind landlord insurance policy offering guaranteed rent, deposit replacement, legal assistance and round the clock third party emergency home repairs.
Founder and Chief Executive Officer Ajay said: “We have always lost out the London when it comes to the North-South divide, but with devolution much more advanced in areas like Scotland and Greater Manchester we now risk being squeezed out by other parts of the country too.
“We need to be united and we need to act fast.
“It’s clear that housing has to be part of the devolution mix. If the Northern Powerhouse project is successful in persuading businesses to rise, remain in and relocate to our region we’re going to need new homes to support the jobs that will be created.
“If the rent projections we’ve seen this week are accurate, our region is going to be increasingly attractive place to build both a business and a life compared to London – but if we’re going to capitalise on that we need to get the housing side of things right now, and I don’t think it’s particularly controversial to say that the North East knows it’s needs best. Greater collaboration between private and social landlords will help too.
“We also need the power to avoid being adversely affected by policies designed to deal with problems that don’t affect us. The biggest example of this is the recent Mortgage Market Review, which was designed to stop it being too easy to get a mortgage. In the North East that was never a problem, and MMR smothered last year’s housing market recovery as a result.
“It’s a myth that you can only build new homes in large scale developments or on Greenfield sites. There are plenty of smaller scale developments on previously used land which could be encouraged with a little creativity – not least by transforming vacant commercial properties into domestic ones, an approach which could also have the effect of revitalising our High Streets.
“The North East just needs the chance to do we all know it can do best.”