Week commencing 7 November 2016

In today's bulletin

• New Government housing fund announced
• ‘Buy as you Go’ scheme expected in Autumn statement

• RTPI calls for greenfield housing sites
• £290 million renewable electricity contract announced

Property, Planning and Regeneration

New Government housing fund announced

A new £18 million fund designed to remove obstacles in the local planning system was announced by Gavin Barwell MP, Minister of State for Housing, Planning and London, on 11 November. Local authorities will be able to apply for a share of the so-called ‘capacity fund’, which the Government
hopes will help to accelerate the delivery of up to 800,000 new homes in England. It will be aimed primarily at large sites, seeking to offer investment that will prevent major developments from coming to a standstill.

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‘Buy as you Go’ scheme expected in Autumn statement

The National Housing Federation has called for “an innovative new route to home ownership” aimed at improving accessibility to housing for the poorest families. Buy as you Go: a new offer, a report published on 8 November, promotes a new housing tenure that would mean buyers do not have to pay a deposit or apply for a mortgage. Instead, people would build up equity in
their homes over time, paying rents at around 90 per cent of market rate and splitting equity payments until they eventually own their own homes. It has since been widely reported that the Chancellor of the Exchequer, the Rt Hon Philip Hammond MP could launch the initiative in his first Autumn statement on 23 November.

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RTPI calls for greenfield housing sites

The UK Government needs to adopt a fresh approach to identifying locations for new housing in its Housing White Paper, according to the latest policy statement from the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI). Published on 10 November, Where should we build homes argues that Green Belt land and wider greenfield sites have to be considered alongside brownfield sites in
order to improve access to decent and affordable homes. RTPI President, Phil Williams reaffirmed the importance and priority of bringing forward brownfield land for development, but cautioned that the policy needs more funding to ensure sites are ready and accessible to transport.

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Housing associations key to increasing housing supply

Housing associations could borrow £7.4 billion to increase their housing delivery, according to a new report by Savills published on 10 November. Spotlight: Housing Association Financial Capacity looks at the Government’s drive to increase housing supply across a range of tenures.
Robert Grundy, head of housing consultancy at Savills, argues that housing associations are “well placed to deliver and manage homes”, becoming “significant contributors” to new housing supply by unlocking financial capacity and increasing borrowing against existing assets as a first step.

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CBI calls for a rethink in housebuilding strategy

The CBI has called for a major shake-up in the way the UK Government is promoting the supply of new homes, with a new report emphasising the business case for tackling the housing crisis. Published on 7 November, No Place Like Home argues that problems with affordability are making it difficult for businesses to recruit and retain staff with the right skills.
The CBI is calling for joined up thinking across Whitehall to deliver a strategic housing plan, as well greater support for smaller housebuilders and delivery of homes within the private rented sector.

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Househunters faced with market shortage

House prices are continuing to increase due to a “dire shortage” of housing available in the UK, the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) has warned. The RICS monthly survey for October found that interest from prospective homebuyers increased for the second consecutive month,
while prices continue to rise due to restrictions on the supply of available homes. The warning comes ahead of the Government White Paper on housing supply, which is expected to be published later this month.

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House price growth continues to slow

House prices rose by 5.2 per cent in the three months to October compared to the same period in 2015, according to Halifax’s latest House Price Index. The figures, released on 7 November, also showed a 0.1 per cent rise in house
prices compared to the previous quarter. This data indicates that house price inflation is continuing to slow, with annual growth at its lowest level since the second quarter of 2013.

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Transport

Great Western railway modernisation criticised

The National Audit Office has criticised the Government for its handling of an initiative to modernise the Great Western railway network in England and Wales. Modernising the Great Western Railway, a report published on 9
November, details the budget overruns and delays faced by the scheme, which includes infrastructure upgrades and electrification of the network, and labels it “a case study in how not to manage a major programme”.

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Train orders hit a 50 year high

Passengers are set to benefit from more than 5,700 new train carriages on the railway network by the end of 2020, according to analysis from the Rail Delivery Group (RDG) released on 7 November.
The past year has seen the highest sustained rate of train orders for more than 50 years as part of the Railway Upgrade Plan, with deals amounting to £11.6bn.

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Energy and environment

£290 million renewable electricity contract announced

Details of the second Contracts for Difference auction for renewable electricity projects were announced by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) on 9 November. Worth a total of £290 million, the contracts are aimed at powering around one million homes and reducing carbon emissions by 2.5 million tonnes per year.
The announcement by Energy Secretary, the Rt Hon Greg Clark MP, also set out plans to inspire confidence in the UK’s capacity for cleaner energy as part of a ten-year programme to continue phasing out electricity generation from unabated coal-fired power stations.

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Energy reforms could save households £90 a year

Developing a smarter and more flexible power system could mean savings of up to £8 billion by 2030 – the equivalent of £90 per household – according to a new report by think tank Policy Exchange. Released on 7 November, the report calls for the entire grid to be overhauled in order to reduce the carbon intensity of the power supply chain and accommodate the growth in wind and solar power.
Recommendations include encouraging smarter, cleaner technologies such as storage and demand response – where power users vary their demand to meet supply – as well as identifying how the regulatory barriers to reform can be overcome.

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