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Housing critical to local economy says Wakefield Chief

Joanne Roney OBE, Chief Executive, Wakefield CouncilIn an article written for Inside Housing magazine, Wakefield Council Chief Executive Joanne Roney has said that effective housing strategies are about giving people a secure base from which to live their lives to support stable communities.

Ms Roney describes housing as being critical to the local economy and says housing growth stimulates local economies and creates jobs and apprenticeships.

‘Effective housing strategies are not just about bricks and mortar, land assembly or working in new and more commercial ways with developers,’ she writes. ‘It’s about giving people a secure base from which to live their lives to support stable communities.’

 Investors

Getting the housing offer right helps attract inward investors and a skilled workforce, says Ms Roney, who also wants to see more done to grow the role of SMEs in house building.

Alongside growing the economy, creating new jobs and developing an improved transport network, addressing Leeds City Region’s housing needs is one of the West Yorkshire Combined Authority’s (WYCA) key aims. Building of 65,000 new homes in the next five years will give many more people access to a decent affordable place to rent or buy.

Aspirations

‘Changing economies and changing demographics mean we have to continually refresh our understanding of our places, local housing needs and aspirations, and bring together the right people and organisations to meet those needs,’ writes Ms Roney in Inside Housing. ‘Housing and economic development teams will need to work closely together to better integrate planning for growth with housing investment placed at the heart of ambition for local economies’.

This strategic approach is already being taken by WYCA, which has developed Transport Schemes designed to open up land for new housing and to provide better links to areas of job growth. One example is the construction of the new Wakefield Eastern Relief Road in Joanne Roney’s own district, which will provide access for the planned 2,500-home City Fields scheme on the city’s eastern outskirts.

Investment

Other WYCA initiatives include six strategically important housing and regeneration projects in Leeds, York and Skipton, which are designed to unlock more than £100m of private investment, provide new local housing and bring currently derelict sites back into use.

Closing her Inside Housing article Ms Roney describes herself as being ‘passionate about housing’ and calls for housing professionals to be at the heart of strategic thinking in every local authority.

Joanne Roney’s full article can be found on the Inside Housing website (opens in new window - you my need to register).

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