Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

More Detail Needed on Northern Powerhouse Proposals

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

More Detail Needed on Northern Powerhouse Proposals

Article excerpt


I AM writing the column on my journey home after spending the last couple of days in London speaking to investors and developers.

The contrast between the property markets in London to that of the North East could not be more marked.

Demand in London for both residential and commercial accommodation is high and as a result speculative development is common place.

Investors seeking to purchase must be quick to complete to avoid a 'gazumping' of the price from others wishing to buy. This excess demand over supply continues to increase prices, yet there is no apparent abatement of demand.

Pleasingly, the developers and investors I have spoken to are interested in making investments in the North East, having already made investments in Manchester and Leeds.

As a region we do publish good news, for instance being the only region making a positive contribution to exports and having a productive and adaptable workforce.

We are also being seen to make progress in the stronger market sectors of student accommodation and hotels.

But we do need to increase the pace of change to speed up improvements in the regional economy and especially the property and construction markets.

Announcements in the Autumn Statement will help. There was more about the Northern Powerhouse, a concept introduced by Chancellor George Osborne to rebalance the UK's economy and help regions to match the productivity enjoyed by London and parts of the South East.

The strategy is to help cities such as Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester and Newcastle to compete on a global scale by having the critical economic mass to rival the world's super-cities, industrial conglomerations and tech-superhubs.

This approach is central to the Government's plan. Underlying this is the need to devolve powers from central government to the regions so that decisions to invest and improve performance are taken at a level where it is best understood what is needed to boost the regional economy.

The devolution agreements are, we are led to believe, dependent on the election of a regional mayor - someone with the democratic accountability for making those decisions. …

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