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Manchester Property Could Benefit From 'Bonfire of Whitehall Controls'

The Urbis, Manchester
Creative Commons License photo credit: Gene Hunt

Manchester property could be set for a planning and development renaissance following revelations that government proposals could see powers transferred from Whitehall to regional hubs.

Under the government initiative, centres such as Manchester could gain strong new powers to direct and regulate housing, planning, transport and jobs.

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said: “Our cities have been straining at Whitehall’s leash. They now have a once in a generation opportunity. I urge them to seize it and make it count.”

Mr Clegg is currently hosting talks with Britain’s major cities – including, naturally, Manchester, to help thrash out tailor-made deals and conduct a “bonfire of Whitehall controls,” which best take advantage of their individual strengths under the government’s Cities Agenda, which was announced last week in Leeds. It is believed that final deals will be ready to be signed off by the time of next year’s Budget.

The other “core cities” earmarked for new powers under the scheme are Birmingham, Bristol, Leeds, Liverpool, Newcastle, Nottingham and Sheffield, with others to follow later.

“We are in a unique position as a city region, in that we are the only place in the country with a statutory body to delegate those powers to. This is a big test for government. If they give us a serious package of devolution, it will be a real incentive for other areas,” commented Greater Manchester Combined Authority vice-chairman and Manchester Council leader Sir Richard Leese.

Sir Richard went on to say that a newly-empowered Manchester could do far more to improve the employment situation, stimulate business and provide greater encouragement to the powerful Manchester property sector.

“This is a government desperate for economic growth in the private sector but the way things are, it is constraining our ability to help deliver that,” he pointed out.

“This is us saying ‘set us free and we will be able to generate that’.”

Manchester property experts believe that by handing more power back to the region, councils will have more control over their budgets and will be able to reduce the red tape that can hamper developments. The draft National Policy Planning Framework, currently being negotiated in Westminster, aims to change planning laws, so the default answer to an application is ‘yes,’ for instance.