We are delighted to announce a new appointment for the Centre for the New Midlands.  Dr Halima Sacranie takes up the position of Director of Housing Research at the Centre, starting her new role in February 2024.

This marks the start of an exciting next phase in the growth of this thinktank from creating a platform for debate and thought leadership to undertaking new research and becoming a centre of excellence to support evidenced based policymaking.  Dr Sacranie has chaired the Housing and Communities Leadership Board at the Centre for the New Midlands for the past 2 years and will remain on the Board in her capacity as Director of Housing Research, but handover to a new Chair in July 2024.

Since completing her PhD at the Centre for Urban and Regional Studies at the University of Birmingham in 2011, Dr Sacranie helped establish and then lead the Housing and Communities Research Group at the university, where she’s undertaken a range of regional, national and international housing research projects while also lecturing on Housing Policy and supervising undergraduate, postgraduate and doctoral students.  Dr Sacranie is currently also a Research Fellow at Aston Business School, and remains an Honorary Research Fellow at the University of Birmingham. She also serves as a Board Trustee for the climate engagement charity Climate Outreach.

Dr Halima Sacranie shared her views about the Centre for the New Midlands, and the opportunity the new role as Director of Housing Research affords:

“Over the past 2 years, I have been impressed at the sense of collective purpose, the energy, and commitment of Chris Smith (Founder and MD of CNM) and everyone engaged with the organisation, and this has been reflected in the calibre and expertise of the members who have joined the Leadership and Advisory Boards, the outstanding quality of events, participants and guest speakers, and the wide-ranging organisations making up the Reimagining the Region Network.

I feel strongly about the fundamental right of access to high quality, sustainable and affordable housing in decent and safe neighbourhoods for our communities, and that housing should be regarded of equal importance to other areas of public policy like healthcare and education. Indeed, at a time of limited resources with the impetus to do more with less, it is critical to take integrated view on how these different areas of public policy interconnect in people’s daily lives. In the same way multi-disciplinary research is championed by universities, I think we have an excellent opportunity to work on common themes at the intersection of the 4 work streams at the Centre for the New Midlands namely Housing and Communities, Digital, Infrastructure, and People and Skills.

I look forward to working with the West Midlands Combined Authority, the constituent local authorities, housing associations, community groups, charities, developers, landlords, planners, investors and everyone else connected in the sphere of housing and communities as we work towards a common goal of addressing inequality, shaping, improving and empowering the Midlands through place-making.”

The Housing and Communities research programme at the Centre for the New Midlands will aim to:

• Address critical issues around Housing and Communities in the Midlands, supporting independent debate on strategy, policy and practice

• Collaborate with key stakeholders to undertake impactful research, which includes reviewing existing evidence, identifying evidence gaps and addressing these gaps with new rigorous research in the field of Housing and Communities in the Midlands, focusing on common areas of interest, which will benefit our region and its communities

• Engage with academia, industry, local and national government, highlighting evidence of best practice in the region, and working with our partners to both evaluate and positively influence regional and national policy around Housing and Communities

• Create long-term and sustainable impact as a think-tank by uniquely contributing towards new longitudinal evidence bases and frameworks particularly around core themes including housing quality, health and wellbeing, net zero transitions and tenant engagement, housing need and affordability


If you or your organisation would like to get involved with this work, please do get in touch with either Chris (chris@thenewmidlands.org.uk) or Halima (halima@thenewmidlands.org.uk).