More new homes should be built in Brighton, according to a think-tank.
The Centre for Cities published its latest report Cities Outlook 2013 today (Monday 21 January) in which it said: “Policy should focus on attempting to stimulate a greater amount of house building in those cities with high purchasing and rental affordability ratios, such as York and Brighton, as this is where demand for buying and renting housing is highest.
“This will support economic growth within these cities by limiting the extent to which people are priced out of the job opportunities that are within their economies.
“This is good for the businesses of these cities and good for the people who live there or want to do so.”
The think-tank estimated that a potential house buyer in Brighton would need an income of almost £58,000 – nearly £32,000 higher than average wages.
Only Oxford, London and Cambridge were less affordable.
It said that the focus in other cities – those with above average vacancy rates – should be on restoring empty properties.
The report said: “For some cities the condition of their existing housing stock is a much more pressing issue.”
It listed the ten cities with the highest vacancy rates where refurbishing homes was recommended. Brighton was nearer the other end of the table.
The report said: “While there are over 25,000 stalled houses within these cities, there are 78,000 vacant properties.
“Attempting to kick-start stalled schemes is unlikely to be as a big a priority in these cities as dealing with the blight that’s often associated with vacant properties.”
Brighton had a vacancy rate of just 2.6 per cent, according to the report, and 1,555 stalled sites where planning permission had been granted but work had not yet begun.
Both of these figures were relatively low compared to towns and cities in other parts of the country.
But the report added: “Ultimately housing is not likely to be the biggest economic issue that these cities face.
“This means that in order to support economic growth and job creation, the emphasis in many of these cities should be on issues such as skills and connectivity rather than supporting an overall increase in the number of houses in their economies.”
The Centre for Cities said: “What is clear from the research is that it has been a downturn of two halves.
“Some cities felt the effects of recession more keenly in 2008 to 2009 and are now on the road to recovery while others struggled more in the second period of recession – from 2009 to 2012.
“Our research showed that Brighton’s economy has not only seen a relatively large improvement in its economy from 2009 to 2012 but has also been ranked as one of the top ten cities to deliver much-needed housing.”
The report calls on the government to work with cities to ensure they access the Get Britain Building fund to kick-start stalled housing.
The Financial Times coverage of the report today (Monday 21 January) cited Brighton in a case study.
The FT said that the growth of the digital economy in Brighton provided a large part of the explanation for the city’s resurgent economic performance.
It quoted Phil Jones, the managing director of Wired Sussex, saying that Brighton had gained a reputation as a hub for digital, media and technology businesses.
And the FT said that the universities were also a key to the town’s growth, adding: “Sussex University runs the Sussex Innovation Centre, housing more than 80 businesses, which last week received the imprimatur of a visit from Vince Cable, the Business Secretary.”