Five things you need to know this week

The biggest placemaking stories from the past seven days, including news that a devolution deal has been inked with the Sheffield City region.

Chancellor George Osborne
Chancellor George Osborne

The Northern Powerhouse initiative that seeks to transfer powers from Whitehall to local areas took a step forward after chancellor George Osborne signed a devolution deal with the Sheffield City Region. As part of the deal, a mayor for the Sheffield City Region will be elected in 2017. The incoming mayor will oversee a range of powers, including responsibility over transport budgets and strategic planning, the government said.

A further 1.3 million housing association families will be given the right to buy their homes, Prime Minister David Cameron announced. The Right to Buy scheme has been extended following a deal with housing associations and the National Housing Federation, which represents social landlords. The Prime Minister said the first tenants can buy their homes from next year. 

The housing and planning minister has challenged the housebuilding industry to deliver homes that active older people will want to move to. Speaking at Conservative Party conference fringe session hosted by think-tank Respublica Brandon Lewis said there was a gap in the market for products for active older people. "My dad is 73, he goes to the gym every day, he runs his own business, when I go home and say I've found a nice McCarthy & Stone place for you, I'll get a two word answer," he said. 

Former Labour transport secretary Lord Adonis will chair a new body that will advise the government on infrastructure projects, chancellor George Osborne has announced. The government said the National Infrastructure Commission would be "charged with offering unbiased analysis of the UK’s long-term infrastructure needs". It will also consider how "key sectors of economic infrastructure", such as roads and rail transport, can support housing development.

Manchester’s Victoria Station officially re-opened on Tuesday following a £44 million facelift. Improvements include a new 8,500 square metre roof that brings natural light into the station, a new bridge that links the station and the Manchester Arena, and new shops and cafes. The station now also connects to the expanded Metrolink tram network. The transformation is part of a £1 billion rail investment programme across the north of England.  


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