Week commencing 27 November 2017

In today's bulletin

• Real estate Sector Deal proposed by BPF
• £300m community housebuilding fund gets reboot

• Train operators to manage tracks under new government plans
• New energy from waste capacity could meet six million tonne shortfall

Property, Planning and Regeneration

Transformative deal announced for the construction industry

Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, the Rt Hon Greg Clark MP, has announced a “flagship” Sector Deal between the government and the construction industry with the aim of counteracting the skills crisis in the industry and accelerating the delivery of key infrastructure
projects. Announced on 29 November, following the Industrial Strategy green paper, the deal will see the Government invest over £170 million in the Transforming Construction programme, with the construction industry committed to match-funding with an additional £250 million.

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Real estate Sector Deal proposed by BPF

Some £120 billion of investment in housing and 500,000 additional new homes could be delivered by a Sector Deal between the real estate industry and the Government, according to the British Property Federation (BPF). The trade association submitted a Sector Deal proposal on behalf of the real estate industry on 27 November, following the publication of the Industrial
Strategy. It appeals for a stable UK tax and planning system to maximise real estate’s contribution to the economy and attract overseas investment, which the BPF claims may be jeopardised by current plans to apply Capital Gains Tax to non-residential property sales from April 2019.

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£300m community housebuilding fund gets reboot

The £300 million Community Housing Fund will be relaunched to encourage grassroots action to address local housing needs and affordability. Speaking at the Community-Led Housing Conference on 27 November, Minister of State for Housing and Planning, Alok Sharma MP, also revealed that since the
fund’s inception last year, £60 million has been allocated to 148 local authorities. Housing co-operatives, community land trusts and registered providers are among those eligible to bid for the funding, which is overseen by Homes England.

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Government to consult on single housing sector ombudsman

The Government is considering an overhaul of the current consumer redress mechanisms in the UK housing sector. Potential new measures announced by the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, the Rt Hon Sajid Javid MP, on 29 November include the introduction of a single ombudsman to cover both the social and private housing sectors. At present
there are four government approved providers of redress, three of which cover estate and lettings agents and a fourth that addresses social housing issues. A consultation with consumers and industry bodies is expected to be launched in early 2018 to identify how overlapping responsibilities can be simplified and improved.

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UK housing stock exceeds £6 trillion

The value of the UK’s private residential property has grown by nearly 50 per cent over the past decade, reaching an estimated £6.02 trillion, new figures from Halifax revealed on 29 November. The main driving forces behind this are the increase of 1.9 million in the UK’s privately-owned housing stock
and the extreme rises in London and the south east, where the average house price is now nearly half a million pounds (£498,000). Northern Ireland is the only region of the UK where housing wealth has fallen (by 24 per cent), while London has increased by 86 per cent.

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Appeals culture indicates a “lack of confidence” in UK planning system

Nearly half of the UK’s housebuilders regularly appeal rejected applications in a sign that the industry has a lack of belief in the current planning framework, according to a survey by law firm Gowling WLG. Published on 30 November, the figures revealed that nearly two thirds (63 per cent) of housebuilding firms have appealed a planning decision in the past 18 months, with 43 per cent
claiming to regularly use the practice. Based on insights from 100 housebuilders across the country, the survey also found that changing legislative goalposts were considered the biggest risk currently facing the industry, ahead of the rising cost of land and the lack of development in infrastructure.

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UK construction sector publishes its Brexit manifesto

Seven of the UK construction industry’s major trade bodies have united to publish a ‘manifesto’ that outlines their recommendations to the Government to help the sector through the process of leaving the EU. The document, published on 29 November, warns that as a ‘strategic industry’, construction
needs to be supported to retain its workforce and determine its needs for the future. The sector also seeks clarity on the transition period, calling for a post-transitional framework to be established which allows UK businesses to recruit migrant workers based on short supply.

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Train operators to manage tracks under new government plans

Companies that operate passenger services will manage the tracks on which their trains run, under new plans announced in the Government’s rail strategy. Connecting people: a strategic vision for rail aims to improve services by ending the operational divide between track and train, and reopen some lines that were closed in the 1960s. The strategy, released on 29 November, also
builds on Network Rail’s recent devolution of infrastructure management by making changes to the franchising system to encourage more regional partnerships. Under these plans, Transport for London could gain control of additional rail services, including the West London Line.

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TfL eyeing £700m annual savings

Transport for London (TfL) has published its updated Business Plan and is targeting average annual savings of £700m per year over the next five years as it prepares for government funding cuts. Over this period, TfL will deliver the Mayor of London’s Transport Strategy and seek to tackle air pollution
by reducing reliance on cars and encouraging more walking and cycling. Announced on 24 November, the plans predict a 45 per cent growth in cycle usage over the next five years and that by 2041, 80 per cent of journeys will be made by public transport, cycling or walking.

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Energy and environment

New energy from waste capacity could meet six million tonne shortfall

Plateauing recycling rates and a lack of capacity in the energy from waste (EfW) sector could mean that six million tonnes of UK waste will go unprocessed in 2030, according to a report by the Environmental Services Association and Tolvik Consulting. Released on 30 November, the report claims that recycling rates are not likely to rise above current levels without
significant government intervention. It argues that closing the gap with additional EfW facilities would divert this waste from landfill, creating thousands of new jobs and generating billions of pounds of capital investment, while also delivering power to around 720,000 new homes.

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‘Pay as you save’ programme launched to cut energy costs

A new programme designed to help energy users cut the size of their bill has been launched by the Green Investment Group (GIG). The programme, known as Energy Solutions, was launched on 29 November and aims to make organisations more energy efficient by providing funding and technical
support, which can then be repaid through the savings that the investment generates. GIG, which was recently sold by the Government to financial services firm Macquarie, argues that the programme can help meet savings targets set out in the recent Clean Growth Strategy.

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Government commits £8.8m for smart energy management

The Government has committed to providing £8.8 million to develop innovative approaches to smart energy management. Announced on 27 November, the Non-Domestic Smart Energy Management Innovation Competition will award funding to nine projects across three priority sectors –
hospitality, retail and schools. This will help organisations cut energy costs and become more energy efficient, enabling them to contribute to UK emissions reduction targets and boost productivity.

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