Week commencing 7 March 2016

In today's bulletin

• Brownfield land register launched to speed up construction of new homes
• New figures show planning permissions up and processing time down

• Infrastructure improvements to support the Northern Powerhouse set out in spring report
• Competition launched to kick-start UK offshore oil and gas exploration

Property, Planning and Regeneration

Brownfield land register launched to speed up construction of new homes

The first councils to pilot one of the new brownfield registers were announced by the Rt Hon Greg Clark MP, Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government on 10 March 2016. 73 councils across England will trial the registers, which aim to speed up the delivery of new homes by
helping housebuilders identify available brownfield sites locally that are suitable for development. This follows the Government’s pledge to build one million more homes and get planning permission for housing in place on 90 per cent of appropriate brownfield land.

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New figures show planning permissions up and processing time down

The number of planning permissions granted for homes has risen by six per cent since 2015, according to new figures released by the Department for Communities and Local Government on Tuesday 8 March. The current rate is the highest it has been since 2007.
The number of applications being processed by local authorities within the required time is also at a record high – which the government has declared is proof of the success of its efforts to simplify the planning system.

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Build to rent sector supported by majority of MPs

A recent poll by ComRes and the British Property Federation has shown that 81 per cent of MPs support the build to rent sector. The results of the poll, released on 9 March 2016, also show that 62 per cent of MPs believe that build to rent will make a higher contribution to UK housing supply over
the next five years than it already does. Ian Fletcher, director of policy (real estate) at the British Property Federation, declared that this “widespread recognition” from MPs was a “positive sign”.

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Mayor of London announces eleven new housing zones

Boris Johnson, the Mayor of London, has announced 11 new Housing Zones in London bringing the total number planned in the city to 31. Funded by an additional £200m of the mayor’s housing budget, the new zones will deliver 24,554 homes, it was announced on 10 March. In total the 31 zones
are estimated to deliver 77,000 new homes, of which 34 per cent will be affordable, alongside transformational regeneration of key town centres, train station hubs and housing estates.

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Stamp duty rise will slow UK property market, survey shows

The rate of house price inflation is predicted to slow and more modest growth in property sales is projected, according to the latest UK Residential Market Survey by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS). The figures, released on 10 March, showed that 74 per cent of respondents
expect there to be a rush on buy-to-let purchases ahead of Stamp Duty increases coming into effect this April, while only 17 per cent expected to see an increase in sales over the coming three months.

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Lack of logistics warehouses puts e-retailing under pressure

Retailers with e-commerce channels will find it increasingly difficult to deliver goods to customers by the end of the decade owing to a lack of sufficient logistics warehouse space, according to Lambert Smith Hampton’s annual Industrial and Logistics Market Report published on 9 March. The paper
suggests that even if expected levels of new development continue, the requirements for warehouses will exceed availability by 25 million sq ft by the end of the decade, and states that an “unprecedented increase” in construction will be needed if internet retailers are to fulfil consumer orders.

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CBI sets out priorities for next London mayor

London’s next mayor must maintain a strong focus on business growth to keep the city an attractive centre for investment, tourism and creativity according to the Confederation of British Industry’s (CBI) London Manifesto, published on 9 March. The report sets out a number of key ‘action points’ for
the new mayor including a commitment to build 50,000 homes a year and to urge the Government to deliver on recommendations to build a new runway in the South East.

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New report reveals more tall buildings planned for capital

A report released on 9 March revealed that there are an additional 119 new tall buildings planned for London compared with last year, taking the total number of tall buildings in the pipeline to 436. The research, from New London Architecture (NLA) and GLHearn, includes buildings of 20 floors and over. For the third year in a row, Tower Hamlets remained the London borough with the most tall buildings proposed – 93 – while Greenwich took second place with 67. The research also revealed a relatively low
completion rate for tall buildings in the capital. Only 19 tall buildings completed during the past year, up from 6 in the 2015 report, demonstrating that despite a healthy pipeline a fairly small proportion of schemes are actually delivered at present. The research also revealed an increase in tall buildings planned for Greater London, with 23 proposed in Barnet and 18 in Croydon.

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Transport

Infrastructure improvements to support the Northern Powerhouse set out in spring report

The Northern Transport Strategy Spring 2016 Report was launched jointly on 7 March 2016 by Transport for the North and the Department for Transport. This aims to build on the Government’s £13 billion investment in transport projects across the north. Among a number of infrastructure measures
to support better journeys and economic growth in the region, the report looks at options for Northern Powerhouse rail, which would connect major cities, as well as improvements to the ‘strategic road network’, including east-west Trans-Pennine connections.

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‘On rail’ competition could deliver cost and efficiency benefits for passengers

On 8 March, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) published its interim report on how to improve competition between passenger train operators. The CMA report suggests that allowing operators to run competing services against existing franchises (so-called ‘on-rail’ competition) could
lower fares, improve train operator efficiency and encourage more effective uses of our rail network capacity. The Office of Rail and Road has welcomed the report and its findings, stating that improved competition will provide more choice and make better use of our rail network.

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Concerns about pollution and noise should not halt airport expansion

A new report has declared that concerns around noise, carbon emissions and local air quality should not stop the UK’s pursuit of increasing its rail capacity, as these will be mitigated by future technological improvements. The report, by the Independent Transport Commission, states that evidence over the
past 30 years has proved that environmental challenges have consistently been overcome and therefore should not prevent the UK from increasing its connectivity.

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Energy and environment

Circular economy course launched by Cranfield University

Cranfield University has announced that in October students will be able to undertake a new part-time course in Technology, Innovation and Management for a Circular Economy. The course, launched on 8 March
2016, will look at ending the relationship between production and the consumption of finite resources, and instead focus on sustainable, environmentally-friendly and innovative business models.

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Competition launched to kick-start UK offshore oil and gas exploration

The Oil and Gas Authority has launched a competition to encourage geoscientists and engineers to develop innovative interpretations and products for the oil and gas industry. It is hoped that the
competition, launched on 7 March, will increase the knowledge and understanding of the United Kingdom Continental Shelf and help to retain and stimulate talent in the UK oil and gas community.

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Energy customers could have been paying £1.7 billion a year more than they should be

The Competition and Markets Authority has carried out the biggest ever investigation into the energy market and has concluded that customers could have been forking out £1.7 billion a year more than they should be. It therefore provides a number of recommendations ranging from an
Ofgem-controlled database to new rules on energy price comparison sites. The Energy Secretary, Amber Rudd MP, declared that the report went “hand-in-glove with everything this Government is doing to deliver a fair, competitive energy market”.

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