Affordable housing and where it should be built

The Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham, has introduced a plan to rewrite a controversial housing strategy that identified potential sites for 225,000 new homes in the region by 2035. The original plan drew criticism particularly by its inclusion of targeted building on greenbelt land. Instead, he would like to see new building targeted on derelict ‘brownfield’ land, although he conceded that some green sites would still be needed.

Greater Manchester’s ten boroughs have been invited to nominate a town centre for the scheme by the New Year.

Discussing his ‘town centre challenge’, Mr Burnham said: “It’s about refocusing our whole approach to housing and planning away from a greenfield-first approach. This new initiative is all about regenerating town centres across Greater Manchester which have felt left behind.”

Mr Burnham said there was a need for higher density, mixed and affordable housing which includes local retail and leisure facilities as well as transport and digital connectivity.

Elsewhere, TV property expert, Sarah Beeny, said in a debate with Conservative MP Chris Philp that:

“We are not seeing a shortage of houses to buy; there’s a shortage of houses people can afford to buy”.

It could be argued that there’s a shortage of people able to afford the houses that are available.

Mr Philp called for more building in London on brownfield sites, quoting the 6,000 acres owned by Transport for London as an example, but Ms Beeny said that building affordable houses in London and the South East would not help to bring house prices in the area down in the long term.

Instead, she would like to see affordable housing built away from London and the South East. She said that any publicly-owned land sold for house building should only be allowed if the houses built on it were permanently price-capped so that they remain affordable.

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