The deal will give the mayoral combined authority housing powers and will make available £100m in funding, including £37m of flexible funding for brownfield remediation

The North East Devolution Deal signed yesterday by the seven councils’ leaders will make available an additional £100m in funding to give the combined authority ‘the tools to drive economic growth’, the Department for Levelling Up, Housing & Communities has said.

LR Jeremy Hunt

Jeremy Hunt announced the £100m package of support at the Spring Budget on 6 March

Included in the £100m, funding which Jeremy Hunt announced in his Spring Budget statement, is £37m of flexible funding for the remediation of brownfield sites and acceleration of regional projects.

Powers over housing, transport and skills will be devolved to the incoming mayor of the North East Mayoral Combined Authority (NEMCA) and the cabinet, following the first mayoral election on 2 May 2024.

NEMCA has brought together seven local authorities County Durham, Gateshead, Newcastle, North Tyneside, Northumberland, South Tyneside, and Sunderland, into one mayoral combined authority. 

>> See also: North East Housing Partnership: using strategic sites and aligning funding to build more affordable homes

>> See also: Homes England buys 19-hectare site in Newcastle

As part of what the government has named a “deeper devolution deal”, NEMCA and Homes England will enter into a Strategic Place Partnership (SPP) “to drive forward the delivery of thousands of new homes and revitalised places”, working alongside the North East Housing Partnership.

The SPP will be formalised through a memorandum of understanding and underpinned by a partnership business plan, which will set out spatial and thematic priorities, and a delivery and resource plan.

The partnership business plan will identify priority focus areas for each local authority, including the regeneration of Forth Yards in Newcastle and Riverside Sunderland.

The North East Housing Partnership (NEHP), which launched in November 2023, is made up of 17 North East social housing providers based across the region’s seven local authority areas.

The housing asssociations that have joined the partnership are Gentoo, Believe Housing, Bernicia, Karbon Homes, Castle & Coasts, Thirteen, North Star, Home Group, Livin, Durham Aged Mineworkers’ Homes Association, Tyne Housing, Johnnie Johnson Housing and South Tyneside Homes, an ALMO which South Tyneside Council is looking to bring back in-house. 

The 17 housing associations operating have collectively built an average of 1,739 new affordable homes each year for the past four years, but have said that with 41,000 households on the social housing waiting list in the North-east, they need to build more. 

The group’s aim is to boost social housing delivery across the North East by working with other housing associations, the combined authority and Homes England to pool funding pots and overcome land supply challenges.

The Department for Levelling Up, Housing & Communities (DLUHC) will also allocate NEMCA a “consolidated pot” of funding during the upcoming multi-year spending review, which will focus on two key investment themes: local growth and place, and housing and regeneration. 

Paul Fiddaman, chair of the North East Housing Partnership and chief executive of Karbon Homes, said: “We welcome the announcement of the new North East trailblazer deal from 2026, which will see the new NEMCA having greater influence over the delivery of and investment in affordable housing across the region.

Fiddaman added: “We look forward to working with whoever is elected as the new North East Mayor to ensure that we deliver the type and level of housing the region needs”.

On affordable housing, Fiddaman said: “When it comes to delivering affordable homes, the partnership is shifting from a group of individual organisations, working in relative isolation, to a strong and unified partnership, will help us achieve greater economies of scale, shape supply chains, regenerate our communities and deliver more homes. The new mayoral combined authority is exactly what we need to achieve this.

“The strategic place partnership hasn’t been formalised yet and we are waiting for more information on the details of it, but we’d welcome the opportunity to play a significant role in that partnership.”