Week commencing 9 January 2017

In today's bulletin

• Lord Prior replaces Jesse Norman MP as the BEIS minister for construction
• Tunnel under Stonehenge receives green light

• Government report backs Swansea Bay tidal lagoon plan
• UK housing supply to remain low

Property, Planning and Regeneration

Lord Prior replaces Jesse Norman MP as the BEIS minister for construction

The Chartered Institution of Highways and Transportation (CIHT) has reported that Jesse Norman, Member of Parliament for Hereford and South Herefordshire, will be replaced by Lord Prior of Brampton. The CIHT reports that Lord Prior’s role within the Department for Business, Energy and
Industrial Strategy (BEIS) will encompass infrastructure, construction, professional services, rail supply chain and the maritime sector. It also suggests that Jesse Norman could lead on energy policy at BEIS following the reshuffle.

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UK housing supply to remain low

House prices in the final three months of 2016 saw a 2.5 per cent increase compared to the preceding three months, according to the Halifax House Price Index. Luton saw the largest percentage increase across the year, with the average house price climbing from £214,934 to £256,636;
19.4 per cent higher than 2015. UK home sales in 2016 will remain broadly the same as 2014 and 2015, with supply remaining low and no signs of the housing shortage easing.

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Changes to Starter Homes regulations imminent

24housing claims to have seen documents outlining changes to regulations for Starter Homes to be revealed in the summer, while a decision to scrap lifetime tenancies will be made in the autumn.
Local authorities will create brownfield registers identifying land suitable for housing, with regulations to be introduced in the spring.

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Fresh ideas needed to provide affordable rural homes

Government data published on 12 January shows that only 1,020 affordable properties were built in England on Rural Exception Sites in 2016; a three year low. The Country Land and Business Association (CLA) says the lack of
development on such sites, typically an important way of providing affordable rural housing, highlights the need for new ideas in tackling the shortage of affordable homes in rural areas.

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Report finds Cambridge best in UK for economic growth prospects

Cambridge has been identified as the UK city outside of London with the best prospects for economic expansion, according to a report by commercial property consultancy, Lambert Smith Hampton. The UK Vitality Index 2017 identifies a strong demand for residential and commercial property as
stimulating growth in house and rental prices, plus investment in new multi-purpose developments such as CB1, which is set to house Deloitte and Amazon offices. Outside of Cambridge, the top three cities are rounded off by Guildford and Reading.

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Average business property price rises despite Brexit

Specialist business property adviser, Christie & Co’s Business Outlook 2017 report has revealed that the average business property price increased across all sectors in 2016. The report noted an increased interest in the UK market from foreign buyers, principally China and wider parts of Asia; in part
due to improved exchange rates for overseas investors as a result of Brexit. The report also identified that 90 per cent of business property sales were from local buyers, which suggests that as yet, Brexit has had little impact on domestic transactions.

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Transport

Tunnel under Stonehenge receives green light

The Department for Transport and Highways England have confirmed that plans for a tunnel under Stonehenge have been given the go-ahead as part of a package to cut congestion in the south-west.
The investment of £2 billion, announced by Transport Secretary Chris Grayling last week, will develop the A303 corridor into a high-performing route, linking the M3 to the M5.

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Government consultation launched on flight noise at Heathrow, Gatwick and Stanstead

The Government is consulting on new measures to reduce evening flight noise at Heathrow, Gatwick and Stanstead. The measures will encourage the use of quieter aircraft to limit the number of people significantly affected by
aircraft noise at night, but is unrelated to October’s decision for expansion at Heathrow.

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£1.2bn fund for local road improvements

Local councils are set to receive a share of £1.2 billion for improvements to roads, repairs to pot-holes and cutting congestion following an announcement last week from Transport Minister, Andrew Jones.
This funding will also include money from the new National Productivity Investment fund, announced in the Autumn Statement and from the Pothole Action Fund.

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Energy and environment

Government report backs Swansea Bay tidal lagoon plan

The government-commissioned Hendry Report on tidal power has backed plans for a tidal lagoon project in Wales, which could provide electricity for 150,000 homes. The report called on ministers to approve Tidal Lagoon Power’s proposal, which consists of a nine kilometre sea wall and 16
turbines designed to harness tidal energy. The Swansea Bay proposal is the first put forward by the company, but if successful another five projects could be implemented across the UK.

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Global investment in clean energy falls

Worldwide investment in clean energy dropped by 18 per cent in dollar terms last year, according to figures released by research firm Bloomberg New Energy Finance. The figures followed cuts to investment in large-scale clean energy projects in China and Japan, by 26 and 43 per cent respectively,
and falling solar power costs. Despite the overall fall, investment in offshore wind projects increased by 40 per cent to $29.9bn, with Dong Energy’s 1.2GW farm off the UK coast the largest project to date.

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Ofgem and the Government set out new plans for National Grid’s future

A new, legally independent system operator within National Grid has been proposed by the Government and Ofgem. The plans look to create “greater separation” between the system operator role and the rest of the National Grid group. Business and Energy Secretary, Greg Clark, said:
“Separating our system operator… offers a level playing field for companies wanting to be part of our clean, secure and flexible energy system – keeping costs as low as possible for our homes and businesses.”

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Research collaboration project to offer solar powered trains in world first

Imperial College London reported that their researchers are working in collaboration with climate change charity, 10:10 and Turbo Power Systems (TPS) to investigate the feasibility of using track-side solar panels to power trains. Connecting solar panels directly to train lines will bypass the
electricity grid, allowing power to be provided exactly when needed the most. Network Rail is already spending billions on electrifying UK train lines, but in many rural areas the electricity grid has already reached capacity for integrating distributed energy generation and supplying power to train companies.

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