Select Committee on Transport, Local Government and the Regions Minutes of Evidence

Examination of Witnesses (Questions 174 - 179)




  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.

Helen Jackson

  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 worst affected.

  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.

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