Other cities, including Sheffield and Leeds, are expected to follow Greater Manchester after the city agreed to an ‘historic’ devolution settlement, giving it new ‘planning freedoms’ and an elected mayor
Under the deal signed by chancellor George Osborne, Greater Manchester will be handed greater local control over certain budgets, including a new housing investment fund worth up to £300 million. According to the Financial Times, Sheffield and Leeds could be given similar powers ‘within weeks’.
Coming just days after Osborne backed plans for a trans-Pennine high-speed rail link (HS3) as part of wider proposals to create ‘a northern powerhouse’, Manchester’s agreement will see it take over responsibility for local transport and create a new statutory spatial strategy to guide investment and development. The region’s first elected mayor could be in place in 2017.
The chancellor said: ‘This is a massive moment for the north of England and our plan to build the northern powerhouse. I want to talk to other cities who are keen to follow Manchester’s lead. Every city is different and no model of local power will be the same.’
Irena Bauman of Leeds-based Bauman Lyons said: ‘The devolution of power to Manchester is not an isolated event. Around the world, governance at national level is weakening in the face of global challenges of financial markets, security and climate change and others beyond individual sovereign control. There is a deficit of ideas of how to govern at that scale.
‘Cities are increasingly recognised as the creative centres where solutions are found and tested. They are seen as able to adapt. They have two precious assets that national governments don’t: knowledge of their place and long-term commitment to it.’