Week commencing 11 December 2017

In today's bulletin

• Government empowered to impose joint development plans
• Government to hold conference on housing design

• Programme cars to report potholes
• Multinationals call on EU to support renewable energy target

Property, Planning and Regeneration

Government empowered to impose joint development plans

Revisions to the Neighbourhood Planning Act will allow the Secretary of State to impose the creation of joint development plans on local authorities under new regulations, which are scheduled for implementation on 15 January 2018. Further amendments laid before Parliament on 13 December 2017 include new powers for county councils to develop strategic plans in areas
where “districts are failing to cooperate effectively”, and a formal requirement for councils to review their local plans every five years. From January, councils will also be obliged to notify local planning groups of any upcoming applications that could impact on emerging neighbourhood plans.

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Government to hold conference on housing design

The Government will hold a design conference in spring 2018 to improve the design quality of homes, the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, the Rt Hon Sajid Javid MP announced on 12 December. Speaking to the Federation of Masters Builders, Mr Javid stressed the
importance of aesthetics when building new properties and said the national housing design conference will showcase ideas and best practice from around the world.

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Significant year-on-year increase in social housing investment

Investment in social housing increased by 15 per cent to £11.6 billion in the past twelve months, according to new figures revealed by the sector’s regulator. Published on 13 December, the Homes and Community Agency’s (HCA) Global Accounts report indicated that approximately £10 billion had
been invested in new social housing supply in 2017, with a further £1.6 billion going towards existing stock. The report also confirmed that the sector oversaw 41,000 completions of social homes for rent, although turnover was unchanged at £20 billion following rent reductions prescribed in the Welfare Reform and Work Act 2016.

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£8.7million awarded by One Public Estate

56 council-led partnerships will receive a share of £8.7 million as part of the latest round of funding awards from the One Public Estate (OPE) programme. Launched in 2013, OPE is a joint initiative by the Cabinet Office and Local Government Association aimed at promoting the efficient use of publicly-
owned land and buildings. The Government claims that 90 per cent of councils are now part of the programme, which it claims will release land for 25,000 homes and create 44,000 new jobs.

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Small brownfield sites disregarded by local authorities

The housing potential of small brownfield sites is routinely overlooked by local authorities despite their close proximity to existing infrastructure links, according to a recent report by the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE). Published on 11 December, the report states that these sites could
provide space for an extra 188,734 homes across England, helping to protect the rural countryside. The charity is calling for amendments to brownfield policy to encourage the accurate identification of viable brownfield sites.

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MPs think solution to housing crisis is on the high-street

94 per cent of MPs believe converting disused space above shops could help combat housing shortages in their constituencies, new research from the Federation of Master Builders (FMB) has revealed. The FMB survey was published on 12 December alongside a new research report, Homes
on our high streets, which estimates that between 300,000 to 400,000 new homes could be created from the conversion of this space into residential accommodation.

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Calls to overhaul housing safety standards

The system used to judge poor housing standards and support enforcement action against landlords must be updated to meet current challenges, the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health (CIEH) has argued. The industry body undertook a survey, published on 11 December, of environmental health professionals’ views on the Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS),
introduced in 2006. The report found that 97 per cent of practitioners believe the HHSRS needs to be updated, while more than half had come across potential hazards that were not covered by the standards.

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‘Subdued momentum’ in UK housing market

November’s RICS UK Residential Market Survey showed “subdued momentum in the housing market” and predicted a broadly flat outlook for prices and sales despite activity stabilising. Published on 14 December, the survey revealed significant variations across the UK regions, with 54 per cent of
contributors in London noting a fall in prices rather than a rise. The South East, East Anglia and North East also reported negative price trends, while trends were stronger in all other regions of the country.

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UK property sector expected to weather Brexit

The UK property sector will continue to perform robustly despite the current political climate, CBRE forecasted in its 2018 Market Outlook published on 13 December. Although business and consumer confidence are likely to be
affected by Brexit resulting in slow overall growth, the report from the leading real estate and investment firm found that the industrial and logistics sector will continue to experience strong rental growth.

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Programme cars to report potholes

Cars of the future could be programmed to automatically spot potholes on the road network, while drones could be used to report on traffic accidents, a new report by Highways England has stated. Published on 13 December, the Strategic Road Network Initial Report set out Highways England’s
priorities for the next eight years, which include investment in ‘smart motorways’ and future-proofing the road network. The Government is now consulting on the plans, which will be used to guide the next Road Investment Strategy, expected in 2019.

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Energy and environment

Multinationals call on EU to support renewable energy target

Some of the world’s largest multinationals and energy companies have called on EU member states to support a renewable energy target of at least 35 per cent by 2030. The declaration was backed by renewable energy groups and high-profile businesses, including Google, Amazon, Microsoft, Unilever
and Ikea. Issued on 13 December under the banner of the RE-Source Platform, the proposal states that corporate renewable power purchase agreements (PPAs) are key to the transition to clean energy.

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