Select Committee on Office of the Deputy Prime Minister: Housing, Planning, Local Government and the Regions Memoranda

Memorandum by North East Housing Forum (GRI 26)

1.  The North East housing Forum

  This document has been prepared for the North East Housing Forum.

  The Forum draws its membership from: Local Authorities, Housing Associations, the National Housing Federation North, The Northern Housing Consortium, the Chartered institute of Housing, the Council of Mortgage Lenders, the House Builders Federation, Private Landlords, Tenants and Residents and the Local Government Association

2.  The contribution of area based initiatives to broader regeneration initiatives and regional strategies and the characteristics of successful regeneration schemes

  I enclose some information relating to the activities of Home Housing Association. The pamphlets describe in some detail the characteristics of some of their regeneration activities and schemes within the North East region.

  These are provided by way of example of the type of activities that Forum member organisations are involved with.

  In summary I can say generally that successful regeneration schemes have some of the following characteristics:

    —  "Buy in" from local residents

    —  A response to needs which have been identified on a very local level

    —  A combination of activities and services of different types, which have been specifically tailored to the local circumstance

    —  Use of a "tool bag" of different funding sources to match requirements—managers have to be creative in their search for resources

    —  Partnership working—on a practical level this usually means shared resourcing and joint management of projects

    —  Creative support for those in need—this has moved way beyond simple housing management techniques and can extend to a range of service provision.

    —  Physical improvements to property or environment acting as a catalyst for broader community development activity.

    —  Extension of support to the wider community within an area (beyond the limits of service provision for tenants.)

    —  Building—in training and other provision for increasing community capacity so that schemes can continue beyond the life of the regeneration initiative.

    —  Schemes often "plug the gap" left between mainstream service provision.

    —  Activity that provides financial support (or "in kind" support) for the most disadvantaged members of the community.

    —  Programmes that use IT, play or cultural activities to capture the imagination and involvement of children and young people.

3.  Has policy taken account of long-term impacts?

  Housing organisations in the North East are very concerned about high numbers of empty properties and turnover in the social housing sector. This is coupled with problems in some private sector or mixed tenure areas where prices are falling or static.

  To assist with future regional policy development the North East Housing Forum has recently commissioned a report from the Centre for Urban and Regional Studies (CURS) University of Birmingham into Changing Housing Markets and Urban Regeneration in the North East.

  The report gives an evidence base, which details those areas that are already displaying the symptoms of being "at risk" of decline It also develops the data to encompass areas that may be at risk of developing similar problems in the future.

  The data is at small area (enumeration district) level. This enables it to be used in some detail by the organisations concerned. In particular the report highlights

    —  The combination factors of demographic change and economic restructuring in the region.

    —  The fact that considerable reshaping of the region's housing market will be needed

    —  And that a planned response in terms of numbers of demolitions will be needed to avoid further continuation of the situation.

    —  That the changing demand for housing provides the opportunity to replace obsolete older housing stock with newer housing, which is in demand.

  The North East Housing Forum is currently involved in production of the first Regional Housing Strategy for the North East.

  The strategy uses the findings of this report as the baseline from which future strategic planning begins.

  The Regional Housing Strategy, when completed, will link with other regional strategies for maximum influence and efficiency.

  The timescale for the strategy will be medium term (three to five years) but it will also look at regional housing policy for the longer (10-year) period.

  The Forum wishes to use the report to underline the importance of securing adequate resources for the region. The North East has lost out on recent alterations to the Approved Development Programme in favour of London and the South East—this highlights the continued need for major investment in the region that can be spent in a way to meet regional priorities.

  We are anxious that the Region gets the funding it needs to tackle the issues highlighted in the Study.

4.  The North East Housing Forum welcomes the opportunity to submit evidence to this enquiry

  Our members are happy to provide further oral evidence to the enquiry if it is deemed useful.

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Prepared 28 October 2002