Week commencing 17 October 2016

In today's bulletin

• New measures announced to raise standards in shared homes
• Local authorities “abusing” planning powers

• Government to take decision on airport expansion this week
• Market4RES report lays out blueprint for large scale integration of renewables

Property, Planning and Regeneration

New measures announced to raise standards in shared homes

New standards for bedroom sizes in shared homes have been proposed by Gavin Barwell MP, Minister of State for Housing and Planning and Minister for London at the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG).
The plans, announced on 18 October, come as part of a wider package of new powers awarded to councils which the Government hopes will help them to tackle rogue landlords.

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Local authorities “abusing” planning powers

Council planning committees are imposing excessive demands on planning consents for housing developments, leading figures in the housebuilding industry have claimed. Giving evidence to a House of Commons DCLG committee investigating the housing industry, the Home Builders Federation (HBF), Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI), Federation of Master Builders
(FMB) and developer Places for People all reported that local authorities are delaying developments by putting in place demands that cannot be signed off or enforced later due to a lack of council resources. Helen Hayes, the Labour MP for Dulwich and West Norwood, claimed that pre-commencement planning conditions may be being “abused” by local councils.

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Vision for UK infrastructure published

A comprehensive review of public land available for housing, fast tracking planning decisions for large housing developments and measures for improving rail and road capacity are just some of the recommendations given in a new Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) report. Published on 19 October,
the National Needs Assessment outlines the changing demands facing the UK’s infrastructure services and was produced following consultation with a wide range of stakeholders including industry leaders, investors, environmentalists, legal and professional bodies and politicians.

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Brexit uncertainty slows UK construction

The majority of construction sectors have experienced a slower third quarter in the aftermath of the Brexit vote as a result of financial constraints and lower rates of investment, according to the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors’ (RICS) UK Construction Market Survey.
Despite this, respondents appear optimistic about the year ahead, with 49 per cent anticipating an increase in workloads rather than a decrease. On average, respondents expected a 2.5 per cent increase in activity over the next year.

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Commercial property reached record high in 2015

The value of the UK’s commercial property stock reached £871 billion in the UK last year, according to the Property Industry Alliance’s Property Data Report. The record figure was an 11 per cent increase compared to 2014 and reflected the increased rates that renters have been willing to pay. Commercial property makes up some 13 per cent of the built environment,
with retail and office space comprising 41 per cent and 31 per cent of British commercial properties respectively. By comparison, the report states that non-residential buildings represented less than one fifth of the value of commercial property.

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UK commercial property loan market grows

The UK’s commercial property lending market continued to grow and stabilise in the first six months of the year, despite uncertainty over the result of the EU referendum. Released on 17 October, the 2016 Half Year De Montfort Commercial Property Lending Report revealed that the total amount of
outstanding debt for commercial property in the UK reached £173.4 billion between January and June, an increase of three per cent from the same period in 2015.

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80 per cent of Brits hope to own a home in ten years

Owning a home is the UK’s housing tenure of preference, according to research published on 20 October as part of the Council of Mortgage Lenders’ long-running series on attitudes towards housing. The research reveals that 80 per cent of adults aspire to own a home in ten years,
with 72 per cent hoping to own in just two years’ time. Half of those surveyed felt that shared ownership is a good idea, but most saw the concept as a stepping stone to full ownership.

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80 South East drives continued rise in UK property prices

The annual rise in UK property prices accelerated to 8.4 per cent in August, continuing the strong growth seen in the market since late 2013, according to new figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS). The latest House Price Index (HPI), published on 18 October, found that the fastest
growth was a 13.3 per cent rise in the East of England, followed by increases of 12.2 per cent in the South East and 12.1 per cent in London. The data also showed that the gap in prices between regions is widening.

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Transport

Government to take decision on airport expansion this week

A committee of cabinet members will decide this week on the Government’s preferred option for airport expansion in the South East. Secretary of State for the Department for Transport, the Rt Hon Chris Grayling MP told the Andrew
Marr Show on Sunday that the “genuinely difficult decision” would be taken on Tuesday, before going out to consultation and finally to a vote by parliament next winter.

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Energy and environment

Market4RES report lays out blueprint for large scale integration of renewables

Europe can integrate a larger share of renewable energy into its power system but needs more ‘flexible’ electricity markets to reduce the cost of integrating renewable energies, according to the Market4RES study. Published on 20
October, the EU-funded report specifically calls for more cross-border trading of electricity across broader geographical areas, as well as a more level playing field between renewable and conventional sources more transparent electricity pricing.

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£39 million funding announced for heat networks

Local authorities and public sector bodies will be able to apply for £39 million of funding to develop heat networks, the Minister of State for Energy, Baroness Neville-Rolfe announced on 18 October. Part of the first phase of the £320 million Heat Networks Investment Project (HNIP), the funding will
support construction, expansion, refurbishment or connection of district heating networks to capture excess heat from facilities such as waste or biomass plants and use it to provide heating or hot water for local residents and businesses.

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