Rethinking England’s housing crisis, the scope and need for local solutions

The UK2070 Commission today publishes a report titled “Rethinking the Housing Crisis: the Challenges and Opportunities in England’s combined authority areas”, written by Dr Leonard Gibbs, Dr Wei Zheng and Professor Cecilia Wong from the University of Manchester.

The report reveals the key changes in housing tenure in England, showing the high rates of growth in outright ownership and private renting and the related issues around housing affordability for new entrants and renters. Using geo-mapping, the report highlights the different housing markets within England, showing the places where the market is overheated and those where prices are declining or failing to keep up with inflation. The report shows the clear divides in England’s housing market and the impacts and influences on inward migration. The report shows the complexity of factors influencing housing affordability, demonstrating the need for regional and local solutions, and makes the continuing case for levelling up in the North of England.

To read the paper, please click here.

Mass Transit Solutions for the Future

The UK2070 Commission today publishes a Paper on the issue of Mass Transit in the future, written by Dr Peter Ewen. Mass Transit systems are fundamental to the Gross Value Added of Major Cities but are unaffordable to most and take too long to implement. The situation is set to worsen as by 2050 the number of people living in cities will grow by 60%.

Dr Ewen proposes that tinkering with current Mass Transit solutions will not meet the needs of today, let alone the future, and that a paradigm shift in how we provide Mass Transit solutions is required. Autonomous Network Transit systems provide a credible and affordable solution. They are cleaner, infinitely quicker to build and provide a much better service to the customer than traditional Mass Transit systems. Dr Ewen spent many years in aviation before moving into Mass Transit rail where he soon realised that the time has come to think differently and embrace the opportunities presented by technology for the people of our cities.

To read the paper, please click here.

The UK2070 Teeside Taskforce Report of Findings

The UK2070 Commission today publishes the Teesside Taskforce  ‘Report of Findings’ and ‘Background Technical Report

The Teesside Taskforce was established by the UK2070 Commission to work with the Tees Valley Mayor and Combined Authority to support the long-standing aspirations for a major increase in the number and quality of job opportunities in Tees Valley, alongside enhancing the wellbeing of people who live in Teesside. its Report on Findings, published today, sets out immediate opportunities for reinforcing current initiatives.

This sets out a framework for Tees Valley to Go Big in delivering Green Growth, across the Tees Valley strengthening the national role of Tees Valley and building on the local distinctiveness and growing interdependencies of Teesside’s main towns.

The report sets out how these ambitions could be accelerated by the immediate implementation of programmes to tackle Green Fuel Poverty, level up access to job opportunities, transform the living conditions of the most disadvantaged communities and create a Global Centre of Excellence around the university and new industries.

The report demonstrates that the opportunities in Teesside are considerable but so also are the challenges.

To read The UK2070 Teeside Taskforce Report of Findings, please click here.

To read The UK2070 Teeside Taskforce Technical Report, please click here

Town & Country Planning – The Journal of The Town and Country Planning Association, November/December 2020, Volume 89, No. 11/12.
Special Section: The UK2070 Commission and Rebalancing the UK Economy

The Town and Country Planning Association kindly published a Special Section in the November/December 2020 edition of their esteemed 116 year old journal, Town & Country Planning entitled The UK2070 Commission and Rebalancing the UK Economy. The Special Section features the following seven chapters:

  • Go Big or Go Home… UK2070 Commission Chair, The Right Honourable The Lord Kerslake, outlines the work and recommendations to date of the UK2070 Commission on rebalancing the UK economy, and considers the role of spatial planning in delivering the levelling-up agenda.
  • Brexit, COVID-19 and ‘levelling up’ – where are we? The twin shocks of Brexit and the COVID-19 pandemic and its impacts present the UK with major policy challenges in addressing serious regional economic imbalances, says Professor Philip McCann.
  • ‘Levelling up’ – the case of eastern Germany, post-1990. Professor Thomas B Fischer looks at lessons that can be drawn from the experience of investing in infrastructure and regeneration in order to support socio-economic stabilisation of the depressed economy of Eastern Germany after German unification in 1990.
  • The case for an ‘MIT’ for the north. There is a major opportunity to help re-balance the UK’s economy by increasing in investment in R&D in the North of England, centred around a new, globally significant, northern centre for science and technology, say Stephen Nicol and Professor Ian Wray.
  • Transport across the UK – the required revolution. Jim Steer outlines the requirements of a fully functioning, national public transport system designed to support the ‘levelling up’ of the UK economy and meet the nation’s net-zero carbon ambitions.
  • Decentralising governance in England. Professor Andy Pike, Emeritus Professor Mike Coombes, Louise Kempton, Professor Danny MacKinnon and Peter O’Brien consider the UK2070 Commission’s initial proposals for decentralising governance in England through trans-regional ‘provinces’, and argue for clarity on what decentralisation is for, what powers and resources it comprises, and how it works in England.
  • Two masters – the dilemma of central-local relations in England. Mark Sandford looks at the thorny question of central-local government relations within initiatives to introduce – and aspirations to increase – devolution and decentralisation in England.

To read all seven chapters of this Special Section, please click here. 

UK2070 Commissioner publishes Think Piece entitled Moving Forward From Lockdown: Some Perspectives from Scotland and Wales

Despite the ongoing COVID 19 crisis and our resulting statement in response, the UK2070 Commission continues its series of Think Pieces by publishing further evidence submitted to the Commission. The second such think piece is by UK2070 Commissioner, Dr. Graeme Purves.

As an Assistant Chief Planner with the Scottish Government, Dr. Purves led the teams which prepared Scotland’s First and Second National Planning Frameworks, and played an active role in developing links between the Celtic and Baltic countries.  He recently advised the Climate Change, Environment and Rural Affairs Committee of the National Assembly for Wales on the Welsh Government’s draft National Development Framework.

Dr. Purves draws on his experience to consider some distinctive Scottish and Welsh dimensions to the issues addressed in The Final Report of the UK2070 Commission: Make No Little Plans – Acting At Scale For A Fairer And Stronger Future; and indicates how thinking has developed in the light of the experience of the COVID-19 pandemic since the Commission’s Final Report was published in February.

To read Dr. Purves’ report in full, please click here.

Discussion Paper on an ‘MIT for the North’ published by the UK2070 Commission.

Stephen Nicol of Nicol Economics and Professor Ian Wray – visiting professor and Heseltine Institute Fellow at the University of Liverpool and UK2070 Commissioner – have today published a discussion paper for the UK2070 Commission entitled Should We Have an ‘MIT for the North?’ In their paper, the co-authors consider the levels of investment in Research and Development (R&D) both in the North of England and in other UK regions to establish if a variant of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology for the North of England would be a benefit for the wider United Kingdom. This report draws widely upon data from the UK2070 Policy Report – Industrial Strategy & Industry 4.0: Structure, People and Place written by the Manchester Urban Institute at University of Manchester and The First Report of the UK2070 Commission: Fairer and Stronger – Rebalancing the UK Economy.

The co-authors find that the UK spends too little on R&D compared to other advanced countries, and particularly too little on innovation organisation and manufacturing-led innovation. They also find that the UK’s national research efforts are primarily concentrated upon ‘The Golden Triangle’ between Cambridge, London and Oxford which in turn is distant from much of the UK’s manufacturing base. Furthermore, they find that while the North of England has some excellent research universities and individual departments, the UK’s globally important institutions are largely in The Golden Triangle with government research institutes and private sector research activity also increasingly congregating there. They therefore consider what sort of institution is required in the North of England; what might be its institutional and secretarial objectives; what scale and source of funding should be used for this institution; and what the institution’s governance arrangements be.

To read the report in full, please click here.

The Bartlett School of Planning publish new research on civil society’s perspectives of inequality.

The UK2070 Commission is today pleased to publish new research written by Dr. Lucy Natarajan, Elisabeta Ilie & Dr. Hyunji Cho of The Bartlett School of Planning, University College London entitled Civil Society Perspectives on Inequality: Focus Group Research Findings Report. The researchers conducted a series of five focus groups with civil society organisations in England with the goal of eliciting an initial understanding of the types of ‘symptoms’ of inequality and associated narratives from various civil society groups; with a view to using a qualitative research approach to add depth on places shown to be ‘left-behind’. The data collected provides initial information on the common types of experiences and discourses in left-behind places across England – with each focus group being attended by representatives of local civil society actors that had interests in economic, environmental and social issues.

The research found that narrative was that the ‘lay’ public should not be ‘done to’, and that strategy should take on board ‘lived experience’; while also finding many people who spoke in terms of decisions needing to be more ‘sensitive to localities’, and having ‘leadership from beyond Westminster’. Additionally respondents identified how a joined-up policy context would help them in their own work, and called for a more ‘needs-oriented’ spatial policy context; while also finding that coordinating strategy and stronger urban planning processes could help to achieve minimise injustices through ‘needs-oriented’ development processes and maximise the ‘social value of land use’. Civil society organisations included local trusts or societies and interest groups and associations – with each being interviewed for their deep experiential knowledge of communities and localities.

To find out more, and to read the report in full, please click here.

Richard McWilliams, Programme Advisory Director at Turner Townsend, publishes report for the UK2070 Commission.

In response to our Second Interim Report, Moving Up The Gears: The Seven National Priorities for Actionthe UK2070 Commission are today pleased to publish a response submitted by Richard McWilliams – Programme Advisory Director for UK Technology at Turner & Townsend Infrastructure. Mr McWilliams’ report is entitled A Just Transition: How improving the energy performance of social housing can help mitigate the impact of climate change on disadvantaged communities by reducing fuel poverty, improving quality of life, and creating a new industry and examines the role that ‘deep whole-house retrofit’ could play in addressing the carbon zero agenda; the mitigation of climate risk amongst those in the existing social housing stock, the consequential benefits in terms of health and quality of life, and the opportunity it presents to encourage the growth of a new industry likely to need substantial numbers of semi-skilled and skilled workers.

Mr McWilliams goes on to argue that retrofit is consistent with the aims of the UK2070 Commission, and that “the breadth of the opportunity is such that government should consider a range of policy frameworks, fiscal incentives and financial support that opens up a pathway from early stage innovation – where active pilots will identify improvements and efficiencies from scheme design to on-site delivery – through to commercial viability and roll-out at scale”. Mr McWillams draws upon his experience with both the Greater London Authority’s Retrofit Accelerator Homes (RAH) initiative and the Energiesprong pilot project in Nottingham, to argue that “deep whole-house retrofit can make a significant, single-step contribution to the UK’s net carbon zero targets, whilst enabling a series of consequential gains consistent with the aims of the UK2070 Commission.”

To read Richard McWilliams’ report in full, please click here.

Professor Ian Bateman OBE and Sara Zonneveld publish new paper for UK2070 Commission.

The UK2070 Commission is today pleased to publish a paper by Professor Ian Bateman OBE, FRSA, FSB and Sara Zonneveld, both of the University of Exeter, which considers net environmental gain in the context of both the built urban environment and of human wellbeing. Bateman and Zonneveld find that in real terms spending to enhance environmental quality, especially in terms of urban or peri-urban green infrastructure, is at a historic low – this despite environmental enhancement being found to directly improve wellbeing and to regenerate local economies. They find that this is particularly pertinent as those who have to endure low quality environments often suffer from degraded health and a lower life expectancy which in turn could both be boosted by such an intervention. The paper considers the recent UK Government proposals for the introduction of a net Environmental Gain requirement upon building new housing and potentially infrastructure, and presents a number of examples to enhance social wellbeing through improved decision-making regarding the siting of environmental improvements, particularly arguing against constraining compensation to be awarded as close as possible to developments, but to instead consider a regional scale for such undertakings.

Professor Ian Bateman OBE is an environmental economist with a research interest centred around ensuring sustainable wellbeing through the integration of natural and social science knowledge within decision making and policy. He received the Royal Society Wolfson Research Merit Award for 2011-2016 and has worked as an adviser or consultant to Defra, the DfT, the DoH and the OECD amongst others. In 2013 he was awarded an OBE for services to environmental science and policy, and is also a Fellow of both the Royal Society of Arts and the Royal Society of Biology.
Sara Zonneveld is is a biologist with a background in ecology and ornithology, with her main research interests centred around understanding how ecological factors affect bird breeding and distributions. She is an Impact Fellow for the South West Partnership for Environment and Economic Prosperity (SWEEP) where she is working on natural capital approaches in Dartmoor and Exmoor National Parks; alongside studying for her PhD at the University of Exeter.

Read Professor Bateman and Sara Zonneveld’s Report in full here.

Second Arup UK2070 Think Piece published by Arup’s Chief Economist, Alexander Jan.

In our continuing series of three Think Pieces submitted to the UK2070 Commission by Arup, the company’s Chief Economist, Alexander Jan, has today submitted an article entitled Tackling long standing regional imbalances in England – the case for more radical devolution. In the piece, Alexander Jan argues that “any process to tackle long standing regional imbalances in England won’t work unless there is a radical shift in resources and decisions for city and regional leaders.” The paper speaks of how in England there is “now something of a devolution deficit compared to Scotland and Wales” despite the establishment of city deals, housing deals, devo deals or indeed the Greater London Authority; with instead much decision taking still being made centrally in Whitehall.

Alexander Jan considers three major issues which he feels should be tackled: that the government needs to embark on a devolution agenda which results in a lasting and radical shift in how England is governed; that Whitehall needs to allow local government to create more diverse solutions to the problems it faces rather than the present one-size-fits-all solution; and lastly that local government needs to expand upon its present limited control over its tax base. He is a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport and has over twenty five years of policy, government and consultancy experience – much of which was gained from working on London transport and infrastructure projects, including working at the Confederation of British Industry, Greater London Authority, KPMG and the Civil Aviation Authority.

Read Alexander Jan’s Report in full here.

First of three UK2070 Think Pieces submitted by Arup published.

The UK2070 Commission today publishes three Think Pieces written by Arup, the first of which is written by Arup’s Director Cities Advisory, Tom Bridges. Entitled The MIT of the North? Building an innovation-driven economy the piece discusses how, despite the UK having a number of strong universities and successful businesses away from the London-Oxford-Cambridge ‘Golden Triangle’ there has yet to be an “innovation-led-economy with sufficient strength, coherence and critical mass” created there. Tom Bridges argues that it is critical that this is created as at this time of swift economic and technological change as it his belief that the towns, cities and regions that will be most successful in the knowledge economy are those that can “create and commercialise innovation.”

Tom Bridges determines four important implications for UK cities and regions: that a place-based approach is important; that the UK should continue to support the development of innovation districts; that there needs to be a stronger focus on building networks for collaboration and that the UK should seek to tackle the significant regional imbalances in Research and Development funding. He is a chartered town planner with over 22 years’ experience in economic development, town planning, urban and regional policy, transport, regeneration and city operations.

Read Tom Bridge’s Report in full here.

Professor Thomas B. Fischer publishes Think Piece analysing Germany’s post-unification transition.

After our recent UK2070 Symposium at Leeds Civic Hall, we now return to our series of Think Pieces submitted to the Commission as part of our Call For Evidence, and which the Commission has received permission of the author(s) to publish to a wider audience on our website.

Today’s piece is written by Thomas B. Fischer – Professor for Environmental Assessment at the School of Environmental Sciences at the University of Liverpool; Extraordinary Professor at the Research Unit for Environmental Sciences and Management, Faculty of Natural and Agricultural Sciences, North West University, South Africa and an honorary staff member at The Technical University of Berlin. Professor Fischer uses his piece to study the investment in infrastructure undertaken by Germany post-unification and its effectiveness in regenerating the former German Democratic Republic, East Germany; before concluding by making comparisons with the UK’s 2011 National Infrastructure Plan.

Read Professor Fischer’s Report in full here.

Dr. Graeme Purves publishes Think Piece on Scotland’s National Planning Framework

In his capacity as a UK2070 Commissioner, Dr. Graeme Purves has today published a new Think Piece for the UK2070 website that reflects on his time as Assistant Chief Planner with the Scottish Government, where he led the teams which prepared Scotland’s First and Second National Planning Frameworks, and where he also played an active role in engagement with the Celtic and Baltic countries.

Dr Purves’ article gives a brief history of planning in Scotland, particularly focusing on the successes and failures of Scotland’s First and Second National Planning Framework (NPF), and how these influenced the creation of the Third (and extant) NPF in 2014. After reflecting on these influences and the approach taken, Dr. Purves then considers the public consultation and parliamentary engagement that was offered to the NPF; before using his expertise to offer a review on the Scottish Planning System at present.

To read Dr. Purves’ report in full, please click here.

Futures Network West Midlands publishes Think Piece

The UK2070 Commission has today published a working note co-authored by the Secretary and Chair of Futures Network West Midlands, Dave Thew and Sandy Taylor entitled Strategic Spatial Development in the West Midlands—a Long View Perspective. This interesting paper is based on the co-author’s 40 years of experience in strategic land use planning in the English West Midlands, with a primary focus on the policy-making process, and a stated aim of “drawing lessons that might be useful in developing a National Spatial Policy Framework as a mechanism to help address current economic imbalances across the UK”.

The piece firstly details the history of planning policy in the West Midlands, before outlining the current situation in the conurbation of England’s second city. Amongst other arguments, Thew and Taylor welcome the return of strategic thinking with the recent establishment of the Midlands Connect Innitative and the Midlands Engine, but they also offer their improvements for how this could be better implemented with the recent creation of the West Midlands Combined Authority. Although primarily focused on the West Midlands, the co-authors also offer their thoughts on some of the Commission’s other objectives outlined in our Prospectus.

To read Futures Network West Midland’s report in full, please click here.

Mike Shields CBE writes Think Piece on the effectiveness of RDAs

In its continuing series of publishing new Think Pieces on a weekly basis, the UK2070 Commission is today publishing a new article written by Mike Shields CBE, which assesses the success of the former Regional Development Agencies (RDAs). Although now serving as a Visiting Fellow at the Heseltine Institute for Public Policy, Practice and Place at Liverpool University, Mr Shields was formerly the founding Chief Executive (CEO) of the Northwest Development Agency as well having previously worked as both the CEO at Trafford Park Urban Development Corporation and Trafford Metropolitan Borough Council; Deputy CEO at Salford City Council; Deputy Director of Planning for Leeds; and Assistant City Planning Officer for Nottingham.

Mr Shields uses his vast professional and personal experience to comment on both the establishment, and then the later abolition, of the Regional Development Authorities, and to consider what their legacy was, and how it remains to this day. He also writes chapters on how RDAs built effective relationships with central and local government; the role of RDAs and their unfulfilled potential; the strengths of RDAs as an institutional model, and their weaknesses, errors and failures.

Read Mr Shield’s report in full here.

Former Royal Town Planning Institute Chief Executive publishes Think Piece on the UK’s international commitments with the UN to reduce domestic spatial inequalities

Professor Trudi Elliott CBE of The Henley Business School at The University of Reading, has today published a new Think Piece for the UK2070 website in her capacity as a UK2070 Commissioner entitled UK 2070, Agenda 2030, the New Urban Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals – what do our international commitments mean for reducing spatial inequalities in the UK? 

With the UK2070 Commission currently considering the deep-rooted inequalities of the United Kingdom and exploring through a national enquiry both the nature of these problems and the actions needed to address them, Professor Elliot has written a paper which explores how international agreements which the UK has committed to might inform this thinking. The Think Piece also explores how the commission’s work can support the UK to deliver on these international commitments and to measure progress.

Read Professor Elliot’s report in full here.

Co-winner of the 2014 Wolfson Economics Prize, Dr. Nicholas Falk, writes land values Think Piece for UK2070

The Executive Director of the URBED Trust, Dr. Nicholas Falk, has written the fifth Think Piece to be published on the UK2070 Commission website, entitled Making Fairer Places: A Think Piece on Land Values.

Dr. Falk’s report considers tackling spatial inequalities in the UK by discussing best practice in other countries internationally, and also how the issue has been addressed domestically in the past. Dr. Falk’s report also seeks to discuss why he believes harnessing land values is crucial to creating a more effective, equitable and efficient country, whilst also rebalancing our cities.

Read more about Dr. Falk’s Think Piece here.

The Heseltine Institute produce Think Piece on National Spatial Strategies – with foreword by UK2070 Chair, Lord Kerslake

Our series of every Tuesday publishing a Think Piece submitted to the UK2070 Commission continues today with a recently published report by The University of Liverpool’s Heseltine Institute for Public Policy, Practice and Place entitled ‘National’ Spatial Strategies in an Age of Inequality: Insights from the United Kingdom, Ireland & France. With a foreword by the Chair of the UK2070 Commission, Lord Kerslake and chapters written by ten academics this extensive paper covers a wide range of topics.

Read our full news story about The Heseltine Institute’s Think Piece here.

Dr. David Nguyen publishes Think Piece about the UK’s regional disparities and development

Our weekly series of Think Pieces submitted to the UK2070 Commission has now reached its third instalment, with this week’s entry written by Dr. David Nguyen of the National Institute of Economic and Social Research (NIESR). Entitled Regional disparities and development in the UK the piece uses data to show how the UK’s regional disparities have varied over time from the 1960s to the present day; before seeking to model the ‘under-performance’ of regions in order to establish what a ‘spatially rebalanced’ region may look like.

Read our full news story about Dr. Nguyen’s Think Piece here.

The Spatial Policy and Analysis Laboratory at The Manchester Urban Institute publish Think Piece on spatial inequality in the UK

In the second of our now weekly series, the UK2070 Commission has published a Think Piece submitted to our Call For Evidence, this week written by The Spatial Policy and Analysis Laboratory at The Manchester Urban Institute entitled ‘Measuring Spatial Inequality in the UK: What We Know and What We Should Know?’

Written by academics from The University of Manchester, the report compares numerous methods to measure spatial inequality and offers a critique of these; considers how the United Kingdom fares on each scale; asks if the UK’s infrastructure investment reinforces spatial inequality; and asks if there is a need to adopt greater use of mapping analysis to demonstrate spatial inequality.

Read our full news story about SPAL’s Think Piece here.

Professor Philip McCann publishes Think Piece on Perceptions of Regional Inequality

In the first of a weekly series of posts, the UK2070 Commission are today publishing the first in a series of Think Pieces submitted to the Commission as part of its recent Call For Evidence, and which the Commission has received permission of the author(s) to publish to a wider audience on our website.

The first of these think pieces is written by Professor Philip McCann, Chair of Urban and Regional Economics at the University of Sheffield Management School, and is entitled Perceptions of Regional Inequality and the Geography of Discontent: Insights from the UK. The paper examines whether the United Kingdom displays high or average levels of interregional inequality, by comparing the UK to 30 other OECD countries across 28 different indicators, and concludes that the UK is one of most regionally unbalanced countries in the industrialised world.

Read our full news story about Professor McCann’s think piece here.