Week commencing 7 August 2017

In today's bulletin

• Mayor of London sets out plans to create ‘National Park City’
• £6.2 million awarded to help unlock 15,000 homes in Oxfordshire

• West Midlands rail services to see £1bn boost
• Independent energy review to keep household costs down

Property, Planning and Regeneration

Mayor of London sets out plans to create ‘National Park City’

A £9 million ‘Greener City Fund’ aimed at creating and improving green spaces in the capital was announced by the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, on 11 August. Part of the Mayor’s draft London Environment Strategy, the funds will be used to support the planting of more trees and the creation of
greener infrastructure as the Mayor aims for London to become the world’s first ‘National Park City’. The Mayor also intends to use planning powers to protect the Green Belt and Metropolitan Open Land and boost the number of developments with green roofs, green walls and rain gardens.

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£6.2 million awarded to help unlock 15,000 homes in Oxfordshire

£6.2 million has been awarded to South Oxfordshire District Council to accelerate the delivery of Didcot’s Northern Perimeter Road and support the building of thousands of new homes in the area, the Minister of State for Housing and Planning, Alok Sharma MP, announced on 10 August. The new road link will serve Didcot Garden Town, which is set to see over 15,000 new
homes built by 2031. Further funding has been allocated by the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) to infrastructure projects aimed at kickstarting large-scale housing projects, including £2.6 million for the regeneration of Poole Power Station in Dorset and £1.25 million to fund infrastructure in the Waterside area of Nottingham.

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Government remains committed to Help to Buy schemes

DCLG announced the government’s ongoing support for the Help to Buy equity loan scheme on 7 August, despite media speculation about the programme’s future. DCLG said that it was working with the London School
of Economics (LSE) to evaluate the scheme, which is due to last until 2021 under current plans, as part of a regular review process.

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Rise in registrations for new affordable homes

The number of affordable new homes registered to be built in the UK grew 19 per cent to 11,220 during Q2 2017, the NHBC’s (National House Building Council) quarterly new home registration statistics have revealed. The NHBC attributed the rise compared with the same period last year to a growing
number of housing associations developing homes for market rent, private sale and shared ownership, along with a rise in joint ventures with the private sector. Published on 8 August, the figures revealed the overall number of new homes registered fell slightly year-on-year from 40,810 to 40,343.

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House prices see fourth successive quarterly fall

UK house prices have fallen for the fourth quarter in a row, marking the longest successive period of decline since November 2012, according to Halifax’s most recent House Price Index for May-July 2017. Prices for the period were down 0.2 per cent compared to the previous quarter.
Industry leaders from Deloitte, Lothbury Investment Management and Despite the drop, prices for the three months to July were still 2.1 per cent higher than the same period last year, with the average house price standing at £219,266.

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RICS UK Residential Market Survey

The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors has published RICS UK Residential Market Survey, which saw its softest reading since 2013 in July, slipping from seven per cent to a one per cent overall increase in house
prices. The RICS data showed a mixed picture at a regional level, with prices increasing in Northern Ireland, the West Midlands and the South West, but falling in London and the South East.

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Construction industry growth to fall to six-year low

The Construction Products Association (CPA) has downgraded its growth prospects for the construction industry in 2018 from 1.2 per cent to 0.7 per cent, making it the CPA’s slowest projection in six years. In its latest
forecasts released on 7 August, the CPA said that it expected industry growth to be dampened by uncertainty around the Brexit process contributing to a wider economic slowdown, including a drop in wage increases and rising costs.

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Transport

West Midlands rail services to see £1bn boost

£1 billion will be invested in customer experience improvements by the new operator of the West Midlands rail franchise, the Department for Transport announced on 10 August. Passengers are expected to benefit from 400 new carriages, free Wi-Fi on all main line services from 2019 and compensation for
delays during the lifetime of the franchise up to 2026. West Midlands Trains Ltd, incorporating Dutch firm Abellio, East Japan Railway Company and Mitsui & Co, will take over from London Midland in December. Smart ticketing and live passenger information will also be rolled out under the deal.

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Rapid evolution in transport policy vital to delivering infrastructure of the future

A more collaborative and data-informed approach to planning and investing in infrastructure is needed to meet the transportation demands of the 21st Century, a new report from PwC has argued. Building sustainable, inclusive transportation systems: a framework for the future, released on 10 August,
calls for policymakers to make better use of data to appraise the complex welfare, fiscal and economic benefits of new infrastructure and deliver positive outcomes for urban and rural communities in both the developing and developed world.

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Energy and environment

Independent energy review to keep household costs down

The Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, the Rt Hon Greg Clark MP, launched an independent review of the cost of energy on 6 August to keep energy prices as low as possible. Part of government commitments made in the Industrial Strategy green paper, the review will be led by energy expert Professor Dieter Helm CBE and will look for ways to
reduce costs across the electricity supply chain, while ensuring the UK can meet its climate targets as well as the needs of emerging technologies such as robotics and artificial intelligence. The review will report at the end of October 2017.

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UK recycling rate to reach capacity as supply of residual materials falls

A decline in the amount of residual waste for treatment could see the UK’s recycling rate limited to 63 per cent by 2020/21, despite residual waste treatment capacity more than doubling since 2009/10, according to environmentalist consultants Eunomia. Published on 7 August, the firm’s 12th Residual Waste Infrastructure Review has forecast that the capacity of energy
from waste and residual waste plants will be greater than the available quantity of residual waste suitable for treatment within four years. Eunomia has called on the government to deliver a more resource-efficient economy that is less reliant on residual waste treatment.

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