Week commencing 10 April 2017

In today's bulletin

New wave of free schools given the go-ahead
RTPI: development being stalled by inadequate land valuing

Funding for driverless and low-carbon vehicles
‘Whole system’ approach to energy infrastructure essential

Property, Planning and Regeneration

New wave of free schools given the go-ahead

The Department for Education has approved applications for 131 free schools to be opened in England, creating around 69,000 new places. Announced on 12 April, the approvals include permission for 20 local authorities to open special schools, creating up to 1,700 additional places for pupils with
special educational needs and disabilities. This latest wave of approved sites is expected to operate alongside the 124 free schools that have already opened since 2015.

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RTPI: development being stalled by inadequate land valuing

Measures currently in place to quantify increases in land value do not sufficiently benefit the public and are stalling delivery of new homes, according to the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI). As a response, it has commissioned its own research into alternative mechanisms to the current
S106 and Community Infrastructure Levy used to fund transport and infrastructure following development. The RTPI claims that the issue of methodology was neglected in the Housing White Paper, risking £185bn of land value increase being missed over the next twenty years.

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Green Belt policy impeding sustainable development of waste sites

The Green Belt is the biggest impediment to bringing unused waste and minerals sites back into productive and sustainable use, the Environmental Services Association (ESA) has claimed in a new report published on 11 April. While technical and economic factors are said to hinder the development of closed sites, Planning for a Circular Economy finds that Green Belt policy is
the “biggest constraint” and that greater re-use of previously developed Green Belt sites should be allowed. The ESA also recommends closed landfill sites could be put to better use by turning them into solar farms, wind farms, heat recovery facilities or sites to grow energy crops.

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UK top choice for European hotel investment

The UK has been named the most attractive market in Europe for hotel investment, beating Germany to the top spot in a survey by property advisor CBRE. Published on 10 April, the European Hotels Investor Intentions study revealed “economic growth” to be the key enticement for hotel
investors considering the European market in 2017, while indicating that the main concerns were asset pricing and geographical influences. CBRE states that the findings reflect growing confidence in the UK real estate market despite a slowdown in investment activity following Brexit.

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Transport

Funding for driverless and low-carbon vehicles

Research into future transport solutions, including driverless and low-carbon vehicles, will receive £109 million of government funding alongside financial support from industry. In a joint announcement from the Department for Transport and the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, 38 different research and development projects were awarded the funding,
which will include grants from the Office for Low Emissions Vehicles (OLEV). It was also confirmed that people purchasing electric and hybrid vehicles will continue to receive subsidies of up to £4,500, including £500 towards the cost of charging points in their homes.

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Energy and environment

Anti-littering strategy to improve ‘binfrastructure’

Cleaning up the country, changing attitudes to littering and increasing enforcement powers are key focuses of the government’s inaugural Litter Strategy for England. Published on 10 April, measures in the new plans include guidance for local authorities on effectively upgrading their ‘binfrastructure’,
as well as efforts to create a ‘green generation’ of young people by expanding the ‘Eco Schools’ scheme. Highways England, local authorities and businesses will all be asked to collaborate in developing the strategy, which will be followed by a national anti-littering campaign next year.

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‘Whole system’ approach to energy infrastructure essential

Developing the UK’s energy network as a whole system is vital for an efficient, low-carbon future, new data released on 10 April by the Energy Technologies Institute (ETI) has suggested. The think-tank states that new or adapted infrastructure will be needed to ensure the network can cope with
increasing consumer demand as well as the additional pressures of decarbonisation. Liam Lidstone, strategy manager at ETI, commented that decisions about when to build, develop or decommission infrastructure must be analysed “across the whole energy system and not in isolation”.

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Onshore wind on track to develop cheap, green energy

Competitive onshore wind projects could allow the UK to deliver more than 1GW of energy capacity – enough to meet the equivalent annual demand of 600,000 homes – at no additional cost to consumers, according to a new study commissioned by Scottish Renewables. Published on 13 April, the findings suggest that the delivery of subsidy-free electricity from onshore wind
projects is possible, but only if the technology is allowed to participate alongside offshore wind and nuclear projects in auctions for clean power generation. The report claims that onshore wind generation is on track to become the lowest cost form of electricity generation in the UK.

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