Week commencing 19 September 2016

In today's bulletin

• One fifth of new homes missing from Government figures
• New HFI programme to aid house building

• Heathrow plan B offers cheaper alternative say supporters
• Banks to offer energy efficient mortgages

Property, Planning and Regeneration

August figures show falling UK house price growth

House price growth has slowed to 8.2 per cent with the south of England slowing more than the rest of the country, according to Hometrack figures for August 2016. London had the second highest rate of annual growth at 10.4 per cent. However, a more modest increase over the past three months
means house prices in the capital are expected to end the year at just six per cent growth, with low single digit growth by spring 2017 if the trend continues. Glasgow and Liverpool were the cities with the fastest growth in the past quarter.

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One fifth of new homes missing from Government figures

Around 30,000 new build homes are excluded from Government figures every year, according to a new report from the Home Builders Federation (HBF). Ghost Towns, released on 19 September, argues that many local authorities under-report the number of newly-built homes within their
boundaries. The HBP claims that this, combined with the use of flawed methodology to collect and analyse the data, leads to as many as 20 per cent of new homes being excluded from official figures.

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New HFI programme to aid house building

The Housing & Finance Institute (HFI) has launched a plan to work with Local Partnerships – the delivery organisation co-owned by HM Treasury and the Local Government Association (LGA) – to assist councils in building new homes. The new “Housing Business Together” programme will assess
the housing strategies of local councils, enabling them to work in collaboration with HFI to identify surplus land to increase delivery, build confidence in capacity and skills and develop relationships which will accelerate completion.

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Giving housing associations the freedom to build is key to reaching targets

The Government is set to miss its housing targets due to constraints on rent setting and planning conditions for housing associations, according to a report from free-market think tank Policy Exchange. The report, A New Settlement between Government and Independent Housing Associations,
was published on Monday 19 September. It claims the Government will fall short of its pledge to build one million homes by 2020 unless some associations are allowed to sign individual deals with the Government granting them greater flexibility in their business models.

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Land shortages main obstacle for SMEs in building new homes

For the second year in a row, SMEs have cited a ‘lack of available and viable land’ as the biggest obstacle to building more homes, according to the Federation of Master Builders’ (FMB) annual House Builders’ Survey. The study, published on 20 September, also revealed that half of SMEs consider both
the planning system and the funding process problematic. A shortage of skills was also a cause for concern for 40 per cent of SMEs . However, despite uncertainty in the market following Brexit, the research found that the majority of SMEs believe demand for new homes will remain high.

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Savills recommends price reductions for expensive homes

Uncertainty in the wake of the EU referendum and rising taxes on London’s highest value homes mean the market will experience a delay in returning to growth, according to real estate adviser Savills. On 21 September Savills issued alterations to its five year forecasts and predicted that the price of
London’s prime properties will be down nine per cent by the end of 2016. Despite a rise in interest from overseas investors, Savills is advising price reductions of six to seven per cent in the prime property market to encourage home buyers to invest.

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August sees increase in gross mortgage lending

Gross mortgage lending in August saw an estimated seven per cent increase on July to reach a monthly total of £22.5 billion, a report from the Council of Mortgage Lenders (CML) has revealed. The CML’s optimistic assessment –
which may go some way to assuaging fears about the housing market – was partially attributed to Bank of England initiatives like a monetary stimulus and the introduction of the Term Funding Scheme in late summer.

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Pensioner property wealth tops £1 trillion

The total property wealth of retired homeowners in Britain has passed £1 trillion, according to financial advisor Key Retirement. Its latest Pensioner Property Index, released on 19 September, indicates that pensioners who own their homes outright ‘earn’ an average of £19,120 each year due to rising
property values. However, the research also indicates that retired homeowners in London have lost out compared to their counterparts elsewhere, seeing an average slump in property values of £65,000 over the past three months.

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Transport

Heathrow plan B offers cheaper alternative say supporters

Supporters of the ‘Heathrow Hub’, an alternative plan to increase runway capacity at Heathrow airport, have submitted revised costs to the Government which they claim are £5 billion cheaper than any other schemes currently under consideration.
The proposal suggests extending and dividing the existing northern runway at a total cost of £7.5 billion. This autumn, the Government is expected to make a decision on airport capacity in the south east.

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Rail Delivery Group sets out plans for Scottish railways

The Rail Delivery Group has published a new report to kick-start discussions with the Scottish Government on enhancing the Scottish rail network to improve day-to-day operations and meet future demand. Published on 23
September, Investing in the Future builds on the Scotland Route Study issued by Network Rail earlier this year and sets out a number of areas that will be explored by the rail industry to inform its 2017 High Level Output Specification.

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Energy and environment

Banks to offer energy efficient mortgages

Banks across Europe could soon offer cheaper interest rates to those buying energy efficient homes or committing to retrofit energy-saving measures. The European Energy Efficiency Mortgage initiative has been launched by a
consortium led by the European Mortgage Federations-European Covered Bond Council (EMF-ECBC). The aim is to create a standardised ‘energy efficient mortgage’ based on preferential interest rates.

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New report examines challenges of integrating wind and solar energy

The combined contribution of wind and solar to the global electricity supply currently stands at just four per cent, according to a new report from the World Energy Council in partnership with CESI. The study, which draws on case studies from 32 countries representing 90 per cent of installed wind and solar capacity worldwide, found that although both sources have experienced
explosive annual growth of 23 per cent and 50 per cent respectively, their overall contribution remains low. The report has been launched as part of the build up to the 23rd World Energy Congress due to be held between 10-13 October, where renewable energy and its integration into the global energy mix will be a key issue.

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