By Thomas Wootton
A group of housing associations has recently published a report outlining proposals to provide more homes and improve lives across West Yorkshire.
The new West Yorkshire Housing Partnership, consisting of 10 housing associations, West Yorkshire Combined Authority and local authorities, will eventually work with the newly elected mayor to enact its proposals.
The introduction of a directly elected mayor is part of the devolution deal for West Yorkshire that was agreed upon between all five West Yorkshire councils and the Combined Authority in March 2020.
The devolution deal saw the introduction of a West Yorkshire Mayor, to be elected in May 2021 and the handing down of greater powers to local authorities on areas such as housing and transport.
The devolution deal will also bring at least an additional £1.8 billion public investment to the region over the next 30 years.
Steve Close, Together Housing Chief Executive, said: ‘’ Devolution offers an exceptional opportunity for the region’s housing organisations to work closely with the metro mayor, West Yorkshire Combined Authority and other partnership organisations to deliver real results.
”These are best achieved by uniting around a set of shared goals.”
Housing is a key focus of the report’s proposals, particularly with the aim to increase the number of affordable houses in West Yorkshire.
On top of the existing provision to build over 91,000 homes in West Yorkshire, the partnership aims to build over 2,700 affordable homes per year for social rent, affordable rent and low-cost home ownership.
The partnership would allow the pooling of resources and greater funding in order to secure land; housing associations are often out-bid for land by private developers seeking to maximise short term profit.
The proposed developments will see thousands of additional homes per year, made available to local people at affordable rents and prices.
It will also see the transformation of hundreds of smaller sites including ones left derelict and desperate for improvement.
The building of new affordable homes particularly in derelict sites is closely linked to two other proposal areas found within the report – namely regenerating local areas and connecting people to economic opportunity.
Nick Atkin, Yorkshire Housing chief executive, said:’’ “Stimulating local regeneration, helping people into work and training, improving health outcomes and tackling inequalities are amongst the many activities we engage in every day.
“This work makes a huge difference but, by partnering with other major players including the new metro mayor, we can achieve so much more.”
Building and improving houses and derelict areas creates a better aesthetic and pleasing image of local areas to attract investment, while ensuring the protection of the environment and green areas.
The building and regeneration proposals will also see a boost in the local economy and local investment using small and medium sized local suppliers for the materials.
However, building proposals are not the only way in which the partnership will help to connect local people to economic opportunity.
The Partnership proposes to expand existing apprenticeships, training and work opportunities through accessing Government’s stimulus and support packages, as well as a committing to directly employ more local people to the apprenticeships and schemes.
The remaining two proposals covering health, climate emergency and fuel poverty are also included in the report, which can be read in full here.