The National Housing Federation's eagerly anticipated Final Report of the Great Places Commission has key recommendations for creating the great places we all want to live in and topping the list are investment, a national PRS Landlords register, a focus on community assets and local procurement; and ending the disposal of social homes into the exploitative end of the PRS through auction sales.

You can download the Final Report in full for free here:

Having worked with the National Housing Federation as part of our Campaign for Community Investment we welcome the report and in particular the Recommendations which call, as we do, for a new national investment strategy for housing targeted regionally to areas of need (Recommendation 1) and for Housing Associations to review their approaches to social housing sales and transfer (Recommendation 8). Effectively this calls for an end to so-called 'disposal' by auction of former social housing into the Private Rented Sector.

Recommendation 4 calls for a National Landlord Register, we believe this is critical to improving housing standards in the private rented sector, particularly for the vulnerable and the benefit-funded, who are often trapped by the lack of available social housing in poor quality accommodation at high costs to the public purse. We also believe that this is crucial to effective stock utilisation and reducing the number of long-term empty homes.

Increasingly, through our Trust for London-funded work investigating the so-called 'Buy To Leave' phenomenon and investment-led residential property markets in London, we see the need for Government to go further and introduce a National Property Register for residential property, linked to registers of beneficial interest in property owned by overseas or tax haven registered entities.

Recommendation 7 calls for Housing Associations and other community anchor organisations to adopt asset-based community development approaches, echoing calls made in our latest Report Community Action on Empty Homes (we also see much read-across of approach in the place and community-centred approaches advocated in Recommendations 6, 9 and 10 on cross-sector partnerships, community benefit-led approaches; and partnering with local councils and Local Economic Partnerships).

The Great Places Commission looked at what makes 'great places' to live and bring up families. The kind of places we all aspire to live in and would be happy to see friends or family members housed in. The kind of places that everyone in one of the richest countries in the world has a right to expect to live in.

In seeking to reach its conclusions it also looked at some of England's most challenged neighbourhoods, including areas where our own demonstration projects work bringing empty homes back into use for community benefit, such as North Ormesby in Middlesbrough.

North Ormesby is just one of many places where housing market residualisation and housing association disposals policy have combined to fuel the growth of empty homes and the dominance of low quality private rented sector accommodation. Much of this is provided on a low investment model, including to benefit-supported tenants who could be better and more cheaply housed in the social housing sector.

Essentially the research for the Great Places Commission Report examined how some current policy and market trends can create challenging environments to live in, what one might call 'not so great' places; or even bad ones. For more on why these areas need the kind of policies and investment which the Great Places Commission proposes, see our own recent document published for the Community Investment Coalition here.