Week commencing 4 September 2017

In today's bulletin

• Khan unveils £250m funding plans for new affordable homes
• LGA claims devolution process is stalling

• Further consultation on Heathrow’s third runway policy
• £7.5 billion benefit from home energy savings

Property, Planning and Regeneration

Khan unveils £250m funding plans for new affordable homes

Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan set out plans for a new £250 million fund to purchase land for affordable housing. The approach, outlined in Mr Khan’s first draft Housing Strategy for London published on 6 September, would ensure that money raised from selling land to housebuilders was reinvested to buy new land for affordable homes. The land fund would be used in addition
to the government’s £3.15 billion affordable housing budget, which hopes to build 90,000 genuinely affordable homes. The draft Housing Strategy also includes plans to create a ‘London Model’ of renting, which aims to bring together London’s private tenants and landlords in an effort to counteract soaring rent prices.

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LGA claims devolution process is stalling

Opportunities for regional economic growth and job creation are at risk of being squandered because of delays in the devolution process, the Local Government Association (LGA) has said. In a statement issued on 4 September – and exactly two years since the deadline to submit devolution
proposals – the LGA highlighted an absence of new deals in the past 18 months and called for the government to urgently publish its annual devolution report, which is nearly six months overdue.

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Technology can create smart city-regions

New technology could be the key to successfully tackling national economic, social and environmental issues, according to a new report by the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI). Released on 5 September, Better Planning: Smart City-Regions highlights the effectiveness of new technology as a means
to improve city life, and notes that devolution could be an opportunity for combined authorities to create a joined-up approach for housing and transport networks.

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UK population set to increase by 10,000 every week

The UK’s population is growing by over 500,000 every year, or 10,000 every week, new research by think-tank Civitas has shown. Written by Conservative peer Lord Hodgson and published on 6 September, Britain’s Demographic Challenge argues that this rate of growth means that the population will increase by around ten million people by 2039.
Lord Hodgson concludes that British politicians need to consider the positives and negatives of population growth, and whether the economic arguments in favour of a growing population outweigh challenges to housing and infrastructure.

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London business and councils back build-to-rent model

The build-to-rent (BTR) model has the potential to play a “significant role” in tackling the challenges of the capital’s growing population, according to a new report from London First and London Councils. Released on 7 September and prepared by planning consultancy Turley, Everything You Need to Know About Build-to-Rent in London aims to encourage support for
the model among councillors and officers. The report welcomes the evolution of planning policy to differentiate the BTR model from for-sale and affordable housing models, arguing that its benefits include pace and size of delivery, tenant stability, and long-term income streams for local councils.

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UK construction output falls to 12-month low

The UK construction sector recorded its weakest performance for 12 months in August as a result of a fall in commercial work. Released on 4 September, the latest IHS Markit/CIPS UK Construction Purchasing Managers’ Index dropped 0.8 points from July to 51.1, the lowest level since August 2016,
but stayed above the 50-point mark denoting growth. Despite strong growth for residential building, a shortage of new orders for commercial work and sluggish civil engineering activity contributed to a slow month overall.

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UK house prices up by 1.1 per cent

House prices in the UK rose by 1.1 per cent between July and August, taking the average cost of a property to £222,293, according to the latest data from the Halifax House Price Index. Published on 7 September, the index also indicates that prices were 2.6 per cent higher in the three months to August than in the same three months of 2016.
While the number of mortgage approvals grew by 5.2 per cent between June and July, the report concludes that the market is being constrained by the low supply of new homes, with the average estate agent’s stock levels nearing the lowest level on record.

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Further consultation on Heathrow’s third runway policy

A second consultation on the National Policy Statement (NPS) for Heathrow’s third runway will take place in late 2017 and will not affect the target to lay the final NPS in the first half of 2018, the Secretary of State for Transport has announced. In a written statement to the House of Commons on
7 September, the Rt Hon Chris Grayling MP said it was necessary to conduct a short period of further consultation to take into account an update to the evidence base of the NPS.

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Utility companies could pay per hour in bid to reduce road delays

Local authorities could charge utility companies by the hour to carry out works on selected routes in an effort to encourage them to avoid busy roads and peak times, and to promote co-ordination between companies. The plans, announced by Chris Grayling on 2 September, would seek to reduce
delays and the associated cost to the UK economy, which is estimated to be £4 billion per year. The Department for Transport claims that trials in London and Kent have resulted in severe congestion caused by roadworks being reduced by more than half.

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Energy and environment

£7.5 billion benefit from home energy savings

Investing in energy efficiency could reduce the UK’s total household power consumption by one quarter and deliver a £7.5 billion net benefit to the economy by 2035, according to a new report by the UK Energy Research Council and the University of Sussex. Unlocking Britain’s First Fuel, released
on 6 September, claims that the potential value of investment could be as much as £47 billion, if additional benefits such as improved health and heightened economic activity are considered.

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British companies powering offshore wind farms

UK companies receive 48 per cent of investment spent on developing, constructing and operating offshore wind farms, a 5 per cent increase from 2015, a new study published on 8 September has found. Offshore Wind Investment in the UK, delivered by RenewableUK on behalf of the Offshore Wind Programme Board, indicates that the industry is fast-approaching its
target to award half its contracts to domestic companies by 2020. The sector is expected to invest £11.5 billion in the UK economy over the next four years, surpassing projected investment in the aviation sector and broadband and mobile network infrastructure.

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