What the metro mayor elections tell us about the state of the housing crisis

Paul Smith CROP

Campaigning focuses on simplified messages about development, but politicians should be brave enough to explain the benefits of housebuilding, says Paul Smith

A bumper crop of local elections is almost upon us, along with a number of metro mayor positions also up for grabs. With new homes becoming ever more unaffordable despite the economic impact of the pandemic and worsening over-crowding of the homes that we do have, you’d be right to think that house building is playing a central role in election campaigns - just not in the way you’d think.

In Manchester - where house prices rose more than in any other UK city over the last five years - mayoral candidates are lining up against new house building, with most openly opposing any new development on the green belt. The exception is the incumbent, odds-on favourite and popularly proclaimed King of the North, Andy Burnham. Except - far from being pro-development - he is instead silent. Save for a tangential reference to housing via his campaign to end rough sleeping in the city, Burnham’s campaign messaging studiously avoids any reference to house building at all.

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