Week commencing 7th September 2015

In today's bulletin

• Calls for councils to overhaul planning departments
• Modest decline for construction industry

• State of local roads main issue for Britain’s motorists
• Public shows support for community renewables

Property, Planning and Regeneration

Calls for councils to overhaul planning departments

Greater London Authority implements new restrictions on construction emissions Brandon Lewis MP, Minister of State for Housing and Planning at the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG), has called on councils to merge their planning services and bring in private sector help. Giving evidence to the Communities and Local Government Committee on 7 September,
Mr Lewis implored councils to do more to improve efficiency and cut costs in light of the Treasury’s recently announced ‘productivity plan’. His speech follows Government proposals, announced in the summer, to impose local plans on councils which had failed to agree their own by early 2017.

Read More

Latest Help to Buy figures released by Government

Over 110,000 people have bought a home through the Help to Buy equity loan and mortgage guarantee scheme, according to Government figures released on 9 September. Some 80 per cent of scheme completions have been made by first-time buyers, while the average house cost £186,000, a price below the national average.
The Rt Hon Greg Clark MP, Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, suggested that Help to Buy had stimulated British building, with “private housebuilding up by more than a third since the launch of the scheme”.

Read More

House prices continue to rise, according to latest survey from RICS

An imbalance between supply and demand in the housing market continues to affect prices, the latest survey from the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) suggests. Released on 10 September, the report states that a 15-month high in prices in August will contribute to a six per cent total rise across 2015.
Prices are expected to rise most markedly in Northern Ireland, at 11 per cent. Some 22 per cent of survey respondents reported a rise in demand for housing, although no upturn in new instructions since mid-2013 placed stock levels at a “record low”. Furthermore, 34 per cent of respondents predicted a rise in rents over the next three months, which RICS claimed would exacerbate the overall price rise.

Read More

Modest decline for construction industry

The Office of National Statistics (ONS) Statistical Bulletin, released on 11 September, revealed construction industry output decreased in July by one per cent compared to the previous month, when growth levels stood at 0.9 per cent.
The figures also showed the first year-on-year decrease since May 2013, with July construction output falling by 0.7 per cent compared with the same month last year. New orders for quarter two (April-June) showed a decrease of 0.4 per cent on the first quarter of 2015, representing a year-on-year increase of 1.9 per cent.

Read More

Wellbeing and sustainability increasingly important to businesses

Building owners are increasingly examining both their environmental impact and the wellbeing of their occupiers according to CBRE’s 2015 GRESB (Global Real Estate Sustainability Benchmark) Global Survey, which explores the sustainability performance of real estate portfolios.
Looking at the implementation of environmental, social and governance (ESG) policies, the survey found a prevalence of both ‘green leases’ – designed to reduce the carbon footprint of buildings – and policies designed to boost the wellbeing of occupiers. The UK performed well in the survey, issued on 8 September, coming first in Europe and second in the world in terms of sustainability performance.

Read More

Transport

State of local roads main issue for Britain’s motorists

The RAC’s annual Report on Motoring 2015 has found that local roads are the main concern for British motorists, particularly for drivers from South West England and Scotland. The annual study revealed that half of those asked believed that the state of their local roads had worsened during the last 12 months, mainly because of potholes and general road surface damage.
One in three respondents wanted a greater proportion of Government transport expenditure to be spent on local roads and road maintenance to be prioritised in local authority budgets.

Read More

New Borders railway link to Edinburgh

A new 30 mile railway line connecting the Scottish Borders town of Tweedbank with Edinburgh was opened by Her Majesty The Queen on 9 September.
Built at a cost of £294 million, the line is expected to service up to 650,000 passengers per year and is the longest new domestic railway constructed in Britain for over 100 years.

Read More

Major report launched as part of London International Shipping Week

A report examining how to make the most of Britain’s potential as a maritime nation was published on 7 September to mark the first day of London International Shipping Week 2015. Led by Lord Mountevans, Chairman of Maritime UK, the study examined how Britain can build on the success of the UK maritime industry,
which already contributes as much as £11 billion to the UK economy annually, supporting more than 113,000 jobs and 6,600 businesses. The study’s recommendations include the establishment of a ministerial working group to drive action on maritime issues, and cooperation between Government and industry to identify skills gaps and increase apprenticeships in the sector.

Read More

Modest decline for construction industry

The Office of National Statistics (ONS) Statistical Bulletin, released on 11 September, revealed construction industry output decreased in July by one per cent compared to the previous month, when growth levels stood at 0.9 per cent.
The figures also showed the first year-on-year decrease since May 2013, with July construction output falling by 0.7 per cent compared with the same month last year. New orders for quarter two (April-June) showed a decrease of 0.4 per cent on the first quarter of 2015, representing a year-on-year increase of 1.9 per cent.

Read More

Government continues investments in reducing air pollution

A competition to help local authorities bid for funds to make their buses more environmentally friendly was announced by the Department for Transport (DfT) on 10 September.
The Clean Bus Technology Fund of £5 million has been made available for bids of up to £500,000, which can be used to retrofit hundreds of buses with clean technology, reducing their nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions.

Read More

Energy and Environment

Public shows support for community renewables

A majority of UK households would support community renewable energy projects, particularly if proceeds were then fed back into the community, according to the results of a poll by Co-operative Energy released on 8 September.
Having polled 2,000 UK adults, the energy supplier revealed that respondents prefer solar energy to other types of renewables, while shale gas received the least support. Younger respondents, aged 18-24, were found to be more supportive of renewable schemes than their counterparts aged over 65.

Read More

Morning coffee for tomorrow’s energy

Planned housing numbers in the South West have plummeted by 20 per cent following the scrapping of Regional Planning Strategies. Research published on 28 June by the Home Builders Federation shows that, with a reduction of 115,000 homes, just 54 per cent of the homes needed in the region are set to be built.
The report also shows that house-building in the South East has fallen by about 35 per cent over the last six years, while the number of planning permissions granted has fallen by a similar proportion.

Read More

Other News

38 regional areas submit devolution proposals

Devolution proposals from 38 cities, towns and counties across the United Kingdom have been submitted to the Government, the Prime Minister, the Rt Hon David Cameron MP announced on 11 September.
Following Greater Manchester’s devolution agreement in 2014, local leaders were invited to submit their own proposals, which will now be considered under the Spending Review. The Cities and Local Government Devolution Bill, currently passing through Parliament, will support any future deals secured from the submitted proposals.

Read More

Autumn Statement and spending review to publish in November

The Chancellor of the Exchequer announced on 9 September that the Autumn Statement will this year be published alongside the Government’s Spending Review on 25 November.

Read More