Examination of Witnesses (Questions 174
TUESDAY 6 NOVEMBER 2001
174. Could I welcome you to this session and
ask you to identify yourselves for the record?
(Mr Styche) Peter Styche, director of
communities in the Government Office for the North West.
(Mr Steinberg) Max Steinberg, director of investment
and regeneration for Housing Corporation (North).
175. Do either of you want to say anything by
way of introduction or are you happy to go straight into questions?
(Mr Styche) We are happy to go into the questions.
176. Given that the government is committed
to turn round the incidence of low demand by the year 2010 and
given the common sense approach might be to say that there are
too many houses, why not get rid of enough, do you believe that
the Regional Office has the wherewithal to manage that?
(Mr Styche) In terms of the Government Office, it
depends what you mean by "wherewithal". We, as part
of government, are charged with promoting and delivering housing
policy, neighbourhood renewal priorities and so on in our region,
in the north west. We are in the process of meeting our own capacity
in terms of skills, knowledge and expertise within the office
to improve delivery of that neighbourhood renewal programme strategy.
We are working alongside other key players to do the same in terms
of supporting, in particular, community interests to enable that
to play a full part in the regeneration and renewal process, but
this is a big agenda and part of a particular neighbourhood renewal
agenda. We have to see it in that context. It seems to me that
we have to have the partners and players in terms of part of a
comprehensive strategy to deal with the issues raised in the areas
177. How many surplus houses are there in the
north west since it is the biggest area in terms of empty homes?
(Mr Styche) The figures vary depending who you talk
to. The regional planning guidance talks about the need to get
rid of nearly 75,000 over the next 25 years. It is about replacement
but probably replacement with fewer than are taken out of the
equation. Whether that figure is right or wrong I am not sure
we have enough information to know and understand precisely what
is happening. That is why we have been engaging local authorities
in the region to develop the kind of studies that are being done
by the Centre for Urban and Regional Studies.
178. Do you count year by year the number of
houses built and the number of houses demolished?
(Mr Styche) We do not directly; we would expect the
local authorities to do that.
179. Do they give you any figures?
(Mr Styche) There should be figures published in the
Regional Planning Guidance.