City-region devolution plan to be unveiled

Reports that the cities minister will next week set out a fresh phase of devolving power from Whitehall to northern cities - and revive the idea of directly elected mayors - feature in today's newspaper round-up.

The Times (subscription required) reports that billions of pounds and greater powers are to be devolved to city-regions across England in response to the Scottish referendum, under measures to be unveiled next week. According to the newspaper, Greg Clark, the cities minister "will set out the next phase of devolving power from Whitehall to northern cities such as Manchester, Liverpool and Leeds, as he calls on industry leaders to drive up economic growth. He will also revive the idea of directly elected mayors".

The Times (subscription required) also reports that the government’s "failure to secure progress on fracking" poses a threat to job creation, according to business group the Confederation of British Industry (CBI). According to the newspaper, John Cridland, CBI director-general, said that one in five of its members believe that Britain’s energy security is worse than five years ago.

In the Financial Times (subscription required), Jonathan Guthrie warns over the government’s plan to remove an exemption protecting the City of London – and other areas - from controversial office-to-residential permitted development rights. Communities secretary Eric Pickles’ "reform looks like a bad one", he writes, "particularly when viewed from the Leadenhall Building, British Land’s new skyscraper". Guthrie argues: "Had enough homeowners been around to start a Leadenhall Street Residents’ Association, it is doubtful if the so-called ‘Cheesegrater’ could have been built."

The Guardian reports that Britain’s biggest property website has rebuffed claims that the housing market is heading for a slowdown, with a forecast that prices will soar by 30 per cent over the next five years. Rightmove's forecast predicts that markets outside the capital will lead the way, the newspaper reports, with Southampton seeing the fastest house price increases in the country, "while Luton, Brighton and Swindon will not be far behind".

The Independent reports that Kent seaside resort Margate, in its heyday the "preferred seaside destination for Londoners from Del Boy to Chas and Dave" now "hopes to revive its fortunes by rebuilding its landmark Dreamland amusement park to attract a more modern London tribe: the hipsters". According to the newspaper, "after an 11-year fight to save the site from developers, Dreamland Margate will next year open as the "world’s first heritage amusement park" with vintage funfair rides and original fittings".


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