Week commencing 9 May 2016

In today's bulletin

• Housing and Planning Bill gains Royal Assent
• Deloitte reports office construction boom in London

• £2 million Government fund to boost hydrogen-powered vehicles
• No power from coal for first time in UK

Property, Planning and Regeneration

Housing and Planning Bill gains Royal Assent

After weeks of resistance from the House of Lords, the Housing and Planning Bill finally received royal assent on Friday 13 May. According to the Government, it will streamline the planning system and enable housebuilders to deliver more homes, more quickly.
The measures include controversial new rules allowing developers to secure automatic permission on brownfield land, and underpinning the Right to Buy agreement with housing associations.

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Latest Halifax figures reflect house price slowdown

Figures published by Halifax on Monday 9 May show house prices are rising at a slower rate than in recent months, with confidence in the market at its lowest level in more than a year. The annual rate of growth eased to
9.2 per cent in the three months to April, down from 10.1 per cent in the same months last year, with the slowdown being attributed in part to a drop in consumer confidence

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Housing demand drops as uncertainty puts off buyers

Interest from house buyers fell last month for the first time in more than a year with uncertainty over the EU referendum affecting the market, according to the latest RICS UK Residential Market Survey. Released on Thursday 12 May,
it reports that more than 22 per cent chartered surveyors reported a drop in demand in April. Sales figures are expected to stay flat over the next three months, but prices continue to rise due to a lack of supply.

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HBF commits to help Government deliver on one million homes promise

On Wednesday 11 May, the Home Builders Federation (HBF) announced its support for the Government’s aim to build one million new homes by 2020. The representative body published a Statement of Intent setting out how it intends to work with the Government to increase housing output.
The larger member companies of the HBF are currently building 60 per cent more houses than in 2010, following a commitment to double the number of houses built in 2010 by 2019.

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Deloitte reports office construction boom in London

Deloitte has published its London Office Crane Survey Summer 2016, tracking every office scheme under construction across the city, and reported that 51 new schemes have started since the last annual survey. This figure represents
the highest increase in the survey’s 20 year history. The survey also reveals that 42 per cent of office space under construction has already been let to a tenant, reflecting the low level of space currently available on the market.

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Construction sector sees slowdown in Q1 2016

Britain’s construction sector experienced a significant slowdown in the opening months of 2016, according to the latest Statistical Bulletin from the Office for National Statistics (ONS). Output for the sector was estimated to
have decreased by 1.1 per cent compared with the last quarter (October to December) of 2015.

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Transport

£2 million Government fund to boost hydrogen-powered vehicles

On Tuesday 10 May the Government launched the Fuel Cell Electric Vehicle (FCEV) Fleet Support Scheme to encourage more businesses to use hydrogen-powered vehicles. The scheme allows private and public
enterprises to bid for funding towards the technology, with the aim of more than tripling the number of hydrogen cars on the roads by next year.

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Interim construction commissioner for HS2 to be appointed

The Transport Minister Robert Goodwill MP announced in the House of Commons on Monday 9 May that an interim construction commissioner for HS2 will be appointed this summer. The commissioner will initially be paid by
HS2 Ltd, with an independent steering group developing performance and funding terms of reference for the commissioner once the HS2 Bill gains Royal Assent.

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Energy and environment

UK slips in global list of renewable energy markets

According to EY’s Renewable Energy Country Attractiveness Index (RECAI), published on Monday 9 May, the UK has slipped to an all-time low in a list of
the 40 most attractive renewable energy markets globally. The UK has fallen from 12th to 13th place since September 2015.

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No power from coal for first time in UK

On two occasions last week, the UK did not generate any power from coal-fired plants. National Grid confirmed that on Tuesday 10 May, for the first time, no coal plants were running between midnight and 4am, and on Thursday
12 May none were running between midnight and 5am. According to experts, it was the first time solar farms generated more power than coal “over a full week”.

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Energy Bill gives new powers to Oil & Gas Authority and communities

The Energy Bill was approved by Parliament on Tuesday 10 May and has come into law without amendments to the Government’s onshore wind proposals. The bill includes new powers for the Oil and Gas Authority
(OGA), as well as giving local communities more say on new onshore windfarm planning decisions and bringing forward the closure of subsidies for new onshore wind developments.

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Other News

BoE’s latest Inflation Report lowers economic growth forecast

On Thursday 12 May the Bank of England published its Inflation Report for May 2016. The Bank has lowered its economic growth forecast for this year from the 2.2 per cent forecast in February’s Inflation Report to 2 per cent.
It has also lowered its growth forecasts for the following two years, from 2.4 per cent to 2.3 per cent in 2017 and from 2.5 per cent to 2.3 per cent for 2018.

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