Week commencing 18 September 2017

In today's bulletin

• ’Wide-ranging’ review into social housing
• Welsh Government’s plan for a more prosperous Wales
• UK’s first digital intercity railway planned for north

• Government announces plans to accelerate green investment
• Fracking won’t compensate for UK’s dwindling fuel reserves

Property, Planning and Regeneration

‘Wide-ranging’ review into social housing

Secretary of State for the Department for Communities and Local Government, Rt Hon Sajid Javid MP, announced on Tuesday 19 September that there will be a comprehensive review into social housing in England, in the wake of the Grenfell Tower fire. In a speech to the National Housing
Federation conference, Javid stated that issues including ‘place, community and local economy’ will be examined in the green paper, which would “inform both government policy and the wider debate for many years to come’.

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More than £22m support package to help communities across England

The government is pledging £22.8 million to help local communities across England build more homes and have more of a say over plans for growth in their area. On Wednesday 20 September Alok Sharma MP, the housing
and planning minister, announced the funding, which will be around £5.5 million a year until 2022. It will give communities specialist help to develop neighbourhood plans.

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Build to rent the way forward for London

James Murray, the deputy mayor for housing and residential development, told the New London Architecture (NLA) conference last week (20 September), that Londoners should lose the ‘obsession’ with owning their own home to deal with the capital’s housing problems. Continued
development in the private rented sector was flagged as key to accommodating London’s booming population, with build to rent schemes described as a playing ‘vital’ part in achieving this.

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Government housing priorities confused, according to CPRE

On 20 September, as part of its Housing Foresight Series, the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) published a new paper, ‘Needless demand: How a focus on need can help solve the housing crisis’. The paper claims that ‘housing need’ and ‘housing demand’ are being conflated in planning policy, resulting in the priority being placed on number of houses created, rather
than the type and tenure of housing. According to the CPRE, current government proposals on housing fail to address the national requirement and will instead result in high-value executive homes being developed on prime green spaces in the south east.

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Optimistic future for UK retail sector in 2018

Savills’ Retail Revolutions: 2018 Outlook report was released on 21 September and forecast retail trends that will be important for the industry in the new year. According to Savills, improved retailer activity and confidence,
rightsizing, favourable shorter leases, the emergence of new occupier types and an improvement to rental growth post-2018, could signal a positive future for the UK retail market.

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Welsh Government’s plan for a more prosperous Wales

On 19 September, the Welsh Government published a new economic and growth strategy titled, ‘Prosperity for All’. The long-term aim of this strategy is focused on encouraging a more integrated and collaborative public sector to
help ‘tackle the big challenges’ Wales faces. It stresses the importance of planning and identifies five priority areas; early years, housing, social care, mental health and skills.

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Transport

Calls for better cost benefit analysis when valuing infrastructure

According to a report from the Institute for Government, improved cost benefit analysis is needed if crucial investments in the country’s infrastructure are to succeed. How to value infrastructure: improving cost benefit analysis
argues that such analysis is sometimes used by government ministers to justify decisions that have already been made, but can – when used properly – improve decision making and boost the UK economy.

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Urban Transport Group sets out vision for investment

The Urban Transport Group has outlined its desire to deliver quality, integrated transport networks through a partnership between government and transport authorities. In a report, Policy futures for urban transport, released 18
September, the group examines how city regions are delivering major transport investment programmes and suggests that the right national policy framework could encourage further and faster progress.

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Firms to compete for funding to cut freight emissions

Up to £15 million in funding has been made available by the Department for Transport to encourage the development of low-emission technology for freight vehicles. In an announcement made on 21 September, companies were encouraged to compete for the funding and help place the UK at the
forefront of electric vehicle technology. A joint initiative by the Office for Low Emission Vehicles and Innovate UK, this is the 14th such competition launched since 2010.

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UK’s first digital intercity railway planned for north

Major upgrades are being planned for the TransPennine rail route between Manchester, Leeds and York to introduce the UK’s first digital intercity railway. The upgrades, announced by the Department for Transport on Friday (22 September), will form part of £13 billion of improvements in the region and
could cut journey times between Leeds and Manchester to 40 minutes. Network Rail will now receive £5 million to develop proposals for embedding the digital technology on the Manchester to York line.

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Energy and environment

Government announces plans to accelerate green investment

Speaking at Climate Week in New York on 18 September, Climate Change Minister, Claire Perry MP, announced plans to boost the UK’s investment in green finance. Proposals included the development of green financial management standards – a global first – and setting up a taskforce of financial
experts to accelerate the growth of the UK’s low carbon economy. It is hoped the greater investment in the green sector will also create high-value jobs and opportunities for British business.

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Fracking won’t compensate for UK’s dwindling fuel reserves

According to a study from the University of Edinburgh, only 10 per cent of the UK’s recoverable oil and gas is left and could result in the country importing these resources in a decade. The study, released 19 September, also concluded that the UK has only “minimal potential for fracking” due to its
dense population areas and complex geology and cautioned it was unlikely to become an effective industry. Researchers instead recommended a more significant shift towards renewables, with offshore wind and solar flagged as key energy sources.

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Latest EU Industrial Policy Strategy launched

The European Commission has renewed its Industrial Policy Strategy which aims to place the European Union as the global leader in innovation, decarbonisation and digitisation. Key elements of the strategy include
measures to reinforce cybersecurity within the industry, plans to boost sustainable finance and investment and proposals for the free flow of non-personal data to help modernise industry.

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