Week commencing 25 July 2016

In today's bulletin

• New store applications fall by almost 10 per cent year-on-year
• House price growth to slow in face of Brexit uncertainty

• MPs once again call for urgent decision on airport expansion
• Surge in UK renewable energy generation

Property, Planning and Regeneration

New store applications fall by almost 10 per cent year-on-year

Applications to build new shops have fallen by nine per cent in one year, according to new research from commercial law firm EMW. The number of planning applications has now been in decline for seven consecutive years and is down by 44 per cent on the peak reached before the recession, with
11,900 planning applications made in 2008 – 9. The research suggests that the growth of online retailers continues to challenge the high street, citing BHS, Austin Reed and My Local as victims of e-commerce’s success, while the Brexit result has added pressure on the industry.

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LGA calls for councils to be major housebuilders again

The Local Government Association (LGA) has warned that four million working people will need access to affordable housing by 2024 as they will no longer be able to afford somewhere decent to live. In the face of an affordable housing crisis, the LGA has urged new government ministers to introduce measures to help tackle the UK’s housing shortage, and as part of
this, take steps to allow councils to ‘resume their historic role as a major builder of new homes’. In light of the economic uncertainty as a result of the EU referendum vote, the LGA has also encouraged the new administration to work with councils to review how various aspects of the Housing and Planning Act should be implemented.

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Construction workload growth continues to slow

Growth in construction industry workloads continued to slow during the second quarter of 2016, according to the most recent Construction Market Survey released by the RICS on 28 July. The survey identified lack of finance as the biggest constraint on output, with planning and regulatory
delays and a shortage of skilled workers also dampening growth. Meanwhile, investment uncertainty around the EU referendum result has contributed to delayed investments in UK construction.

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Strong performance for new home registrations

The total number of new homes registered during the second quarter of 2016 was 41,222, according to statistics from the National House-Building Council (NHBC). Released on 29 July, the figures show a 13 per cent decrease in new public and affordable homes compared to the second quarter of 2015.
However, strong private-sector performance – amounting to a six per cent year-on-year increase – created a one per cent increase overall, making this the strongest quarter for new home registrations since 2007.

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House price growth to slow in face of Brexit uncertainty

House price growth is to fall 0.3 per cent year-on-year to 5.7 per cent in 2016, as the market stabilises following the rush to buy second properties ahead of stamp duty increases and Brexit uncertainty takes hold. The latest forecasts from the Centre for Economics and Business Research declare that
growth is expected to slow even further to just 2.2 per cent in 2017, before recovering in the medium term as Brexit negotiations progress. London is forecast to be hit hardest by the EU referendum result, with house prices in the capital expected to decrease by 5.6 per cent in 2017.

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Supermarket bonus on house prices

Supermarkets have been shown to increase the value of homes in England and Wales by adding an average £22,000, according to a report published by Lloyds Bank on 25 July. The figures revealed that living near a premium supermarket chain Waitrose can increase the house price by an average of
£38,666. Properties located near a Sainsbury’s (£27,939), Marks and Spencer (£27,182), Tesco (£22,072) and Iceland (£20,034) were also shown to increase in value, with the premium slightly lower for homes near Asda (£5,026), Lidl (£3,926) or Aldi store (£1,333).

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Transport

Independent community relations commissioner hired by HS2

HS2 plc has hired a new independent commissioner to handle its community liaison and complaints process before work on the new rail project begins next year. Gareth Epps will take up the position of Construction Commissioner, having spent nine years performing a similar role for Crossrail.
His main duties will include ensuring the public affected by HS2 understand the plans, arbitrating over unsettled disputes and offering guidance on ways to moderate the number of complaints.

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£30 million fund to boost green transport

The Department for Transport (DfT) has launched a £30 million low emission bus fund to support greener bus travel. 13 bus operators and local authorities across the country have been awarded a share of the funding, which will see 326 new green buses added to fleets and more than £7 million of
infrastructure upgrades completed. Among the largest winners are Birmingham City Council and Transport for London, who have jointly won £2.8 million to invest in 42 state-of-the-art hydrogen fuel cell buses.

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London City Airport expansion could mean extra £1.5 billion every year for UK economy

London City Airport last week announced it has received planning permission for an expansion it claims will enable the airport to welcome 6.5 million passengers by 2025, inject £1.5 billion into the economy annually and provide 2,000 new jobs in East London. The City Airport Development Programme
(CADP) is a £344 million privately-funded investment and includes plans for seven new aircraft stands, a parallel taxiway and an extension to the existing passenger terminal. The airport claims the development will enable it to welcome quieter, more modern aircrafts while extending capacity.

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MPs once again call for urgent decision on airport expansion

The government has been called upon once more to come to an urgent decision on hub airport expansion in South East England, this time by the British Infrastructure Group – chaired by The Rt Hon Grant Shapps – in a new report entitled Gate Now Closing. The report, which is backed by over
40 cross-party MPs, concludes that the government must select the new hub as a matter of extreme urgency as ongoing delay is causing significant damage to the UK economy and hindering future growth. A decision from the government is now not expected until October this year at the earliest.

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Energy and environment

Welsh nuclear power plants need localism and a good economic case

Nuclear energy has a ‘bright future’ in Wales provided it remains good value for money and supports local communities, according to a new Welsh Affairs Committee report. While the committee concluded that there were no concerns about safety, despite the 2011 accident in Fukushima, it wanted the Government to confirm there was a strong economic case for development
of new nuclear sites at Wylfa and Trawsfynydd. Published on 26 July, The future of nuclear power in Wales 2016 report also highlighted the need to be more transparent about skills and training and put local people and businesses at the heart of any future plans.

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London behind on energy efficiency targets

A vast number of London’s homes and workplaces are hugely inefficient, according to Energy Efficiency in London – the latest report from the Association for the Conservation of Energy. The report also notes that London is falling behind the energy efficiency and emissions targets set by its
2011 Climate Change and Energy Strategy. However the report notes that over the last few years there have been major upgrades to the efficiency of London’s buildings – with the amount of energy used in London per its economic output down by 40 per cent since 2005.

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European offshore wind industry attracts record investment

The European offshore wind industry attracted a record €14 billion of investment during the first half of 2016, according to a new report from industry body Wind Europe. Of this fresh investment nearly
three-quarters went into the UK. In addition, a Memorandum of Understanding has been agreed by the Energy Ministers from nine European countries, to improve cooperation in this sector.

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Surge in UK renewable energy generation

Newly released figures have revealed that in 2015, 25 per cent of UK electricity was generated by renewable sources, in comparison to just 22 per cent from coal. This constitutes a 29 per cent increase in renewable electricity generation compared with 2014, while electricity produced from coal
fell sharply over the same period. The figures were published by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, and also revealed that in 2015 just under half of the UK’s renewable electricity was produced by wind power.

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