Britain’s Metro Mayors have joined forces to call on Prime Minister Theresa May to ensure that big cities get their share of housing funding.
The regional leaders, who include West Midlands mayor Andy Street and the mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham argue that cities are missing out on Government housing cash because it is cheaper and more profitable to develop green field land in the south of England.
Four mayors, who meet in Birmingham to discuss housing on Tuesday, February 20, have now written an open letter to the Prime Minister saying that if the Government invests in more brown field and former industrial sites - of which there are many in Birmingham and the Black Country - then they can get hundreds of thousands of homes built over the next decade.
Earlier this month the Government announced a series of grants from the Housing Infrastructure Fund - but despite putting in dozens of bids the big cities like Birmingham, Manchester, Liverpool and Bristol by and large missed out.
In the West Midlands the only site to get funded was the Eastern Green site, former green belt land, on the edge of Coventry. Government subsidies are also pouring into the South-East where land values are already high.
The mayors' letter states: “Housing supply is a challenge for all of our regions, and as we see new jobs and growth in the years ahead, these pressures will only get worse. We need investment in infrastructure and public services to unlock housing developments, and investment to regenerate brownfield sites which have been unused for years.
“We need to work together to increase supply and quality across all types of housing: social rented, private rented and owner-occupied.”
They agree that with Government support they will accelerate housing development, regenerate brownfield sites and give young people construction job training and help to rebalance the UK economy, particularly the housing sector, away from London and the South-East.
According to its strategic economic plan the West Midlands needs to build 215,000 new homes by 2030. Among the region's bids is £143 million for the 1,000 home athletes village in Perry Barr - crucial to delivering the Commonwealth Games.
“As the Government invests in housing through the Housing Infrastructure Fund, Housing Deals, and Homes England investment, a new approach is needed. The way that Government allocates housing funding relies heavily on land values, which puts our regions at a disadvantage. We should not lose out because our house prices are not as high as in London and the South East.”
They instead call on Mrs May to order a review of the criteria for awarding housing funding to ensure city-regions can receive investment to provide housing and economic growth.
The letter has been signed by Mr Street and Mr Burnham, plus Mayor Steve Rotherham from the Liverpool City Region and Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen.