The one-time New Labour fixer tells Joey Gardiner about his plans to expand the English Cities Fund, the ‘shameful’ state of English planning - and what the next government needs to do to get more homes built
When the predecessor to Homes England approached Sir Michael Lyons back in 2002 to chair a new kind of public-private joint venture development vehicle it was looking to set up – a fruit of the then still fresh Urban Task Force report – he was not expecting the job offer to hit him quite so close to home.
English Partnerships, as it was then known, tried to tempt him to join the English Cities Fund by bringing along early plans for the redevelopment of Canning Town’s Rathbone Market in Newham, east London, he says. Little did they know that Lyons, who had earned his reputation and his knighthood running a series of Midlands local authorities, was actually a former East End boy, who grew up postwar in London’s Royal Docks.
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