Week commencing 13 February 2017

In today's bulletin

• New Right to Build ‘expert task force’ launched
• Infrastructure and housebuilding to drive growth in construction output

• ‘Toxicity Charge’ for most polluting cars to be introduced in London later this year
• Brexit puts UK’s nuclear fuel supplies at risk

Property, Planning and Regeneration

New Right to Build ‘expert task force’ launched

A new Right to Build expert task force was launched on 10 February to boost delivery of affordable housing. Funded by the Nationwide Foundation and championed by the National Custom and Self Build Association (NaCSBA) as well as the All Party Parliamentary Group on Self Build, Custom and Community Housebuilding and Placemaking, the task force was also the
recognised within Government’s Housing White Paper, Fixing our broken housing market, on 7 February. The group will aim to build on the requirement within the Housing and Planning Act 2016 that local authorities in England grant adequate development permissions to meet demand for self-build and custom housebuilding.

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UK house prices rise by 7.2 per cent during 2016

The average UK house price now stands at £220,000 following a 7.2 per cent increase during 2016, according to the Office for National Statistics’ House Price Index for December. Although growth slowed during the second half of the year, the final figures reflect the steady increase in house prices the market has seen since 2013. The average London home is now valued at
£484,000, followed by the South East of England which stands at £316,000 and the East of England on £282,000. The North East continues to lag considerably behind other English regions, with the average price standing at £129,000. Houses on the Shetland Islands, meanwhile, experienced a huge 26.1 per cent increase in value over the year to December.

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Infrastructure and housebuilding to drive growth in construction output

Construction output is forecast to grow 0.8 per cent in 2017, 0.7 per cent in 2018 and 2.2 per cent in 2019 according to the latest predictions from the Construction Products Association (CPA). However, the trade association suggests that not all sectors in the construction industry will fare equally well – while infrastructure activity and private housebuilding are expected to grow
by 28 per cent and 6.1 per cent respectively, this will be offset by a decline in commercial and industrial construction. The outlook is more positive for housing as major housebuilders will likely look to profit from rising prices and an undersupplied market.

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Prime headline rents to fall in the capital

Forecasts from Lambert Smith Hampton, the commercial property consultants, show that prime headline rents for office space are expected to fall in London, while the regions remain more resilient. A limited supply of quality offices in the regional markets is likely to cause a rise in rent, with
headline rents predicted to rise in 20 of the 52 key markets in the UK. In contrast, the capital is expected to see a decline in headline rents within 12 of London’s 16 sub-markets. This is partially due to a build up of supply, as well the sharp incline in business rates.

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London urged to develop more high-rise and mixed-use schools

The key to solving the capital’s shortfall in school places is to pursue creative mixed-use developments, attendees of the ‘Meeting London’s School Needs’ conference, a New London Architecture (NLA) event, were told on 9 February. Unlocking new sites is also key, an issue which the Department for Education (DfE) hopes to tackle via LocatED, the government-owned property company
due to take over responsibility for finding and purchasing new school sites. The interim managing director of LocatED, Lara Newman, said that the organisation was buying sites across London to create schemes which are “more about the public good”, including proposals which marry housing and schools in locations like Kingston and Ealing.

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Capital’s house prices surge further ahead of national average

Over the past two decades, the gap in average house prices for London and the average for England and Wales has widened significantly, from a difference of £33,834 (47 per cent) in 1996 to £299,631 (107 per cent) in 2016. The research, released on 16 February by Lloyds Bank, also reveals that
London house prices are now nearly 12 times average earnings in the capital, compared to an average price to earnings ratio of 3.9 per cent for London in 1996.

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Transport

Rail punctuality sinks to 10-year low

The proportion of UK rail journeys that ran on time last year has fallen to its lowest level in over 10 years, according to figures from the Office of Rail and Road. Data published by the regulator on Thursday 16 February revealed that in 2016 almost one in every eight trains across the country –
some 12.3 per cent – failed to arrive at their destination at the scheduled time. The results represent the weakest benchmark performance since the 12-month period which ran to the end of September 2006.

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‘Toxicity Charge’ for most polluting cars to be introduced in London later this year

A landmark £10 penalty charge will be introduced in October 2017, targeting cars with the highest emissions in London’s city centre. The vast majority of pre-2006 vehicles will be affected by the charge, which is set to be the toughest emission standard of any major city worldwide. The Mayor of
London Sadiq Khan confirmed on 17 February that the ‘T-Charge’, also known as the Emissions Surcharge, will affect up to 10,000 of the oldest, most polluting vehicles in an effort to tackle the ‘dirtiest diesels’ ahead of the Ultra Low Emission Zone planned for 2019.

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Energy and environment

New European emissions policy voted through by MEPs

The Emissions Trading System is set for reform after the European Parliament set its policy on the system from 2020 onwards. The Market Stability Reserve, created to correct an excess of emissions permits, will be bolstered by reducing the emissions cap by 2.2 per cent year on year. Under the
proposals agreed, MEPs hope to balance more substantial cuts to greenhouse gases with protections for energy intensive industries. However, environmental groups were quick to suggest that the proposals did not go far enough.

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Brexit puts UK’s nuclear fuel supplies at risk

Britain’s departure from the European Union, and subsequently the European Atomic Energy Community (Euratom), could put the UK’s energy security at risk by threatening decommissioning projects and plans to construct more nuclear reactors. This is according to a new report from the Institution of
Mechanical Engineers (IMechE) entitled Leaving the EU: the Euratom Treaty, which calls for ‘sustainable transitional arrangements’ as well as revised nuclear cooperation agreements (NCAs) to allow trading with both EU and non-EU nations.

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