Consultant says public sector must show leadership for areas including Blackpool and Knowsley
A new report by Mace has called on the private sector to step up when it comes to placemaking in the country’s most underprivileged areas.
The report, Joining the dots: moving beyond place to help solve the UK’s inequality problem, said that turning around “left-behind places” needs clear leadership and for the public and private sectors to come together.
It said: “Turning around the fortunes of left-behind places requires leadership. Most often that means public sector leadership, as these communities often receive limited interest from private sector businesses due to a high level of risk and/or a perceived lack of benefit.
“There is currently, and perhaps understandably, an imbalance in the roles played by the public and private sectors when tackling inequality, particularly in our left-behind towns. A more coherent and collaborative approach is needed to support the communities living in these places.”
The report said that with incentivisation, private sector organisations may become more inclined to get involved, but this still needed the direction of strong public sector leaders.
It said a placemaking approach to housing required government support for “supercharged” development corporations, in order to tackle the challenge of integrating transport connections, healthcare and education.
A supercharged development corporation would see a zone created to support placemaking interventions and to try to improve the private sector investment appeal of an area.
Mace suggested these areas could receive zonal planning rights to remove red tape, a public allocation of funds to create an anchor for the area or improve connectivity, and a 30% tax rebate for private investors.
Local authorities should have to partner with a housing association, private developer or long-term investor and submit their bid to the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) or appropriate combined authority to create a zone.
The research, which includes modelling by a former senior HM Treasury and MHCLG economist, said placemaking interventions could help reduce the impact of unequal access to healthcare, reduce overall inequality and deliver better outcomes while saving money for the taxpayer.
It found that the Durham Dales, Blackpool and Knowsley in Merseyside were among the areas that would benefit the most from a placemaking approach to solving inequalities.