Week commencing 23 October 2017

In today's bulletin

• 66,000 new homes a year required to meet London housing demand
• Public consultation reopened for Heathrow expansion

• Energy prices are inflated by regulation, review warns
• Good planning required to increase housing affordability

Property, Planning and Regeneration

66,000 new homes a year required to meet London housing demand

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has called on government to increase investment for affordable housing in London after it was revealed that at least 66,000 new homes need to be built every year to match demand for homes in London. The figures, calculated by City Hall through its Strategic
Housing Market Assessment and published on 27 October, also indicated that at least 65 per cent of the homes must be at affordable levels. Sadiq Khan is lobbying the government to return investment in affordable housing to 2009/10 levels.

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Good planning required to increase housing affordability

Large-scale housing developments must be supported by good urban planning if they are to help improve housing affordability, according to a new report by the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI). Published on 24 October, The Deliverability and Affordability of Housing in South West England
looks at six large, masterplanned housing developments, arguing that they could increase local affordable housing stocks by up to 50 per cent. However, the RTPI warns that major developments require skills and resources that are unavailable to most local councils.

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Criticism of land banks “too simplistic”

Blaming housebuilders’ land banks for the housing shortage is “too simplistic” according to a new report commissioned by Barratt Developments. The Role of Land Pipelines in the UK Housebuilding Process, published on 24 October, features new data suggesting land banks are “reasonable given a number
of factors”. ChamberlainWalker, the economics consultancy which authored the report, argued that detailed planning consents were not necessarily green lights to build, as they often came with pre-commencement conditions from planning authorities that took time to fulfil.

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New affordable home registrations fall

The number of new affordable homes registered to be built in the UK during the third quarter of 2017 fell by five per cent when compared to the same period in 2016, despite housebuilders registering the highest Q3 total in a decade at nearly 38,000 homes. The latest new home registration statistics
from the National House Building Council (NHBC), released on 26 October, also indicated a nine per cent increase in private sector registrations of new housing, while seven out of the 12 UK regions experienced growth in the number of registrations.

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Call for evidence on improving the home buying process

The government is seeking to improve the process of buying or selling a home with the launch of a new call for evidence on 22 October. The Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) is asking for views on ‘gazumping’, where sellers accept higher offers from last-minute
buyers, as well as issues including: increasing trust between buyers and sellers; improving guidance for customers; and how innovation could speed up the buying process.

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Demand for industrial property lifts commercial property market

Demand for industrial space has continued to rise, reaching 28 per cent in Q3, according to the latest UK Commercial Property Market quarterly survey. The statistics were published by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS), which noted that this strong performance in industrial investment
demand has contributed to commercial property expectations for Q3. Despite this modest improvement, the survey found that demand for retail property continues to perform poorly – down to -16 per cent from -15 per cent in Q2.

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Public consultation reopened for Heathrow expansion

Public consultation on a new runway at Heathrow Airport has been reopened, after the government updated its proposals following the publication of new evidence. A revised draft of the Airports National Policy Statement, which includes new reports on air quality, noise analysis and airport capacity, was published by the Secretary of State for Transport, the Rt Hon Chris Grayling
MP, on 24 October. The new forecasts reveal that the UK’s pollution targets will not be breached with Heathrow’s expansion, while London’s airports will reach full capacity by 2034 without new investment. The consultation period will run for eight weeks until 19 December, and the Department for Transport is expected to publish its final proposals for Heathrow by mid-2018.

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Rail tops public’s infrastructure wishlist

Investment in the nation’s railway network has overtaken housing as the British public’s top infrastructure priority, up from third place a year ago, according to a new survey by Ipsos Mori. Published on 25 October, results from the second Global Infrastructure Index have revealed that 46 per cent of
those surveyed cited rail as their most important investment priority, ahead of housing supply (43 per cent) and flood defences (38 per cent). Although overall rail use in the UK is higher than in other G8 nations, data from the poll shows that Britons rate both quality and value-for-money below average.

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Businesses lack confidence in infrastructure delivery

Only 20 per cent of businesses are satisfied with the current pace of infrastructure delivery, while three-quarters lack confidence that infrastructure will improve during this parliament, a survey of 727 businesses by the Confederation of British Industry and AECOM has revealed. Released on 25 October, the Foundations for Growth survey found a similar lack of
confidence amongst the public, 76 per cent of whom doubt any improvement will occur. While the number of firms dissatisfied with infrastructure in their region increased to 54 per cent, up eight per cent on last year’s survey, 55 per cent view infrastructure delivery as critical to the government’s agenda.

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Energy and environment

Energy prices are inflated by regulation, review warns

The cost of energy in the UK is too high, partly due to complicated government interventions, according to a report by Professor Dieter Helm CBE, an academic at the University of Oxford. Published on 25 October, Professor Helm’s Cost of Energy Review – which was promised in the
Conservatives’ 2017 election manifesto – makes recommendations which include merging different operating licences and specifically detailing the cost of subsidising energy providers on customers’ bills.

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Political opposition to onshore wind ‘contradictory’

Onshore wind farms could provide the cheapest electricity in the UK, yet their use is being curtailed by a lack of government support, according to a report from the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit. Published on 25 October, Blown away: What is the UK losing by banning the cheapest form of electricity generation, argues that onshore wind could act as a cheap
low-carbon supplement to nuclear power, biomass and offshore wind power, helping to drive down costs for consumers. The report concludes that, by failing to support it, the government is contradicting its own low-carbon energy ambitions.

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Energy bodies announce new alliance to promote smart power

Several major energy trade organisations have announced a new partnership to promote smart power technology in the UK energy market. Backed by the
government, the Smart Power Industries Alliance was launched on 23 October to communicate the “consensus” around smart power and promote it to the public.

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