Week commencing 7 December 2015

In today's bulletin

• Councils to receive £8 million of Starter Home funding
• North-south divide set to grow in next three years

• Government accepts Airport Commission’s case for south-east expansion
• UK ranks second in the world for action against climate change

Property, Planning and Regeneration

Drop in stamp duty saving buyers thousands

Research conducted by Halifax and published on Monday 7 December has found that people buying homes in England and Wales are paying around £4,500 less in stamp duty than a year ago. Since Government reforms changed the system, charges have dropped by more than half on houses
around the average price of £273,531. The changes, introduced in the 2014 Autumn Statement, made it a more progressive tax, only charging buyers a higher rate on the portion of the price that goes over each threshold.

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Councils to receive £8 million of Starter Home funding

Construction of the first Starter Homes has moved a step closer following £8 million of funding being set aside for the project, according to a Government announcement on Monday 7 December. The money will be divided among local councils and used to begin work at 27 sites across the country,
following the Government’s commitment to build 200,000 Starter Homes. New figures also show that more than 10,000 housing association tenants have now registered an interest in the Right to Buy scheme.

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Location for large custom build development announced

Housing Minister Brandon Lewis announced a pilot site for a large-scale custom build development at Park Prewett, Basingstoke, on Wednesday 9 December. The 122 home site, purchased by the Home and Communities Agency last year, will be developed by ZeroC and will include 44 plots for
affordable housing and several self-build plots. The Government has pledged to double the number of custom and self-build homes by 2020 and hopes to begin work at Park Prewett in 2016, subject to planning consent.

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Report says business rates are inhibiting jobs and development

A report launched by the British Property Federation (BPF), British Council of Shopping Centres (BCSC) and British Council for Offices (BCO) on Thursday 10 December says that reducing business rates could unlock almost 4,000 jobs and £1.75 billion of development over the next five years.
The report, written by Regeneris Consulting, also shows that approximately three quarters of any increase in business rates is passed on to landlords as occupiers demand lower rents.

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BNP Paribas cautions on pace of house price growth

On Monday 7 December, BNP Paribas Real Estate published research suggesting that the UK housing market could experience a credit boom similar to that of the Nineties if the base rate is held at 0.5 per cent until late 2017.
It predicted that a rate rise in late 2017 would see average house prices rise by 6.7 per cent in 2016 and 11.5 per cent in 2017 to reach £235,500, but that a rate rise in late 2016 would result in slower growth for house prices.

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Construction output on the rise in October

On Friday 11 December, the Office for National Statistics published its Output in the Construction Industry statistical bulletin for the month of October.
It found that construction output increased by 0.2 per cent in October, marking the first rise for three months.

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Savills publishes predictions for 2016

Estate agent Savills has made a series of predictions for the commercial, residential and agricultural markets in 2016. In its forecast published on Thursday 10 December, the company suggests that UK house prices will rise by five per cent next year, but this could be subject to changes in interest rates.
Average total returns on UK commercial property investments are likely to slow to approximately 7.5 per cent, and investors will need to focus more on rental growth than capital growth.

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‘Give London power to set stamp duty,’ says committee

The London Assembly should have power to control the amount of stamp duty paid by homebuyers in the capital, according to a report released by the London Assembly Regeneration Committee on
Thursday 10 December. It also makes recommendations on transport consultations and calls for the renewal of the TfL Growth Fund.

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North-south divide set to grow in next three years

A report issued by professional services firm EY on Thursday 10 December suggests that the wealth gap between the north and south of England is likely to grow further over the next three years.
EY believes that the Northern Powerhouse project is unlikely to have an impact on the divide until 2020.

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Transport

Government promises rail franchises will deliver Northern Powerhouse

On Wednesday 9 December, the Government announced its plans to award the Northern rail franchise to Arriva Rail North Ltd and the TransPennine Express rail franchise to First Trans Pennine Express Ltd.
The deal will deliver 500 new carriages, the removal of the unpopular pacer trains, more than 2,000 extra services a week and room for 40,000 passengers at peak times.

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TfL and Mayor of London propose Crossrail 2 subsidiary

The Mayor of London and Transport for London (TfL) announced their intention to create Crossrail 2 Ltd, a wholly owned subsidiary of TfL tasked with driving forward the development of the project, on Thursday 10 December.
Crossrail 2 will provide Central London with tunnelled sections between Wimbledon, Tottenham Hale and New Southgate, and connect with existing National Rail infrastructure in Surrey and Hertfordshire.

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Government accepts Airport Commission’s case for south-east expansion

On Thursday 10 December the Government confirmed its support for airport expansion in the south-east of England. It accepted the Airport Commission’s case that the region needs more runway
capacity by 2030 and agreed with the shortlist of options. The final decision on the location awaits further consideration of environmental impacts and mitigation measures.

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Energy and environment

UK ranks second in the world for action against climate change

According to a new report published by global NGO group Climate Action Network on Tuesday 8 December, the UK is the second best country in the world for tackling climate change.
The UK finished second to Denmark in the rankings, drawing praise for continued expansion of renewable energies and a national plan to phase out coal.

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Investors’ coalition launched to work towards clean energy

A £352 billion coalition of investors has been formed to put pressure on some of the world’s biggest corporations to clean up their electricity sources.
Investors include insurer Aviva and major public and private funds in the UK, Norway and France.

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Other News

IMF warns risks to the economy remain, despite strong growth

Christine Lagarde, managing director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), provided a positive assessment of the UK economy on Friday 11 December, stating that underlying economic vulnerabilities have been addressed and steady growth looks set to continue.
The IMF also stated, however, that high household debt, a “strikingly large” trade deficit and high government debt still posed risks to the economy.

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