Deputy prime minister draws up plan – with high-density, mixed-use development at top of agenda

Deputy prime minister John Prescott this week set out a plan for the Northern Way, his vision to regenerate the north of England.

The latest ambitious proposal aims to narrow the £29bn prosperity gap between the North and the rest of England.

Rather than a continuous swathe of development along the M62, Prescott charged eight major conurbations to prepare growth strategies to fit in with his wider “new urbanist” agenda of creating high-density mixed-use communities as well as turning around areas of housing market failure.

The eight areas are Leeds, Greater Manchester, Merseyside, Sheffield, Hull and Humber, Tyne & Wear, Central Lancashire and Tees Valley.

The Northern Way steering group also recommended:

This is the first ever combined growth strategy for the great northern regions

John Prescott

  • A £100m fund to put in place development frameworks, on top of the £7bn already earmarked for the North
  • Helping 100,000 more people back to work by 2014 via six northern pilot schemes to widen the help available to the long-term unemployed in the North
  • Targets to be delivered next March for affordable homes as a proportion of all housing schemes
  • Improving the Manchester–Leeds rail link
  • Setting up key “clusters” of economic development: chemicals, food and drink, energy and environmental technologies, advanced engineering, financial and professional services
  • A Northern Airports Access Plan to improve the area’s airports.

Prescott said the Northern Way agenda was a “milestone”. He said: “This is the first time there’s ever been a combined growth strategy for the three great northern regions. The North-east, Yorkshire and the North-west have 14.5 million people – that’s double the size of London.”

The steering group, chaired by Sir Graham Hall, has worked over the past six months to produce the report. The three northern regional development agencies – One North East, the North West Development Agency and Yorkshire Forward – will now join forces to set up a delivery team to implement the plans.

The RDAs will each be asked to produce regional spatial strategies for the next 15-20 years’ worth of development. The strategies will look at which areas could become new housing market renewal pathfinders, which are growth areas to be developed – particularly city centres – and how private finance could be employed in the region.

  • The ODPM is to announce a five-year strategy next week aimed at getting more people on the property ladder and increasing the amount of affordable housing in high-demand areas.