Week commencing 15 January 2018

In today's bulletin

• London property price growth continues to slow
• Stamp duty changes have limited effect on first-time buyers

• Transport for the North launches draft Strategic Plan
• Cost of renewables continues to fall

Property, Planning and Regeneration

Battersea Power Station sold for £1.6bn

Battersea Project Holding Company Limited has approved a £1.6 billion deal with Malaysian investors Permodalan National Berhad (PNB) and the Employees Provident Fund of Malaysia (EPF). One of Britain’s largest ever property deals, the aim is to create a long-term asset management and
ownership structure for the power station building. The refurbishment and reconstruction of the Battersea Power Station, which is due to be completed in late 2020, will include residential, office space, retail and leisure

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Tenth of new homes were offices

Research by the Local Government Association (LGA) released on 18 January shows that nearly one in ten new homes over the last two years are former offices. There is no affordable home requirement for developers to meet when converting the offices, and the figures suggest that new build
alternatives could have resulted in the delivery of 7,644 affordable homes. Under permitted development rules these conversions are often built without supporting infrastructure investment and lead to a decline in available office space..

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Stamp duty changes have limited effect on first-time buyers

The December 2017 RICS UK Residential Market Survey, published on 18 January, showed a continued lack of momentum in the UK housing market. According to 86 per cent of respondents, changes to stamp duty for first-time buyers made in the Autumn Budget had little effect on the level of interest
from new buyers. Nevertheless, the survey results also reported that despite the current slow market respondents have more optimistic expectations for the next twelve months

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Committee calls on Government to tackle energy inefficient homes

A report released by the Committee on Climate Change on 17 January criticised the Government’s current approach to energy inefficient homes as risking the UK’s ability to meet climate change obligations. The report suggests incentives such as low-interest-rate loans and stamp duty discounts
should be used as rewards to make homeowners invest in energy saving solutions. It also recommends enforcing higher standards on new build homes, in order to future-proof properties for low-carbon heat.

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London property price growth continues to slow

The UK House Price Index for November 2017 was published by HM Land Registry on 16 January. Data for November 2017 showed that the annual UK house price rose by 5.1 per cent, while regional results showed that West Midlands property prices, up by 7.2 percent, recorded the greatest average
price growth over the last twelve months. London continued to show the slowest annual growth of all UK regions for the twelfth consecutive month at 2.3 percent.

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Latest house price index shows growth across all home nations.

According to figures from the Office for National Statistics (16 January), average house prices in the UK have risen by 5.1 per cent in the year to November 2017. Despite remaining broadly around five per cent throughout 2017, annual growth rates have slowed since mid-2016. Following the latest
increase, house prices are now an average of £243,000 in England, £153,000 in Wales, £146,000 in Scotland and £132,000 in Northern Ireland.

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Construction output suffers biggest fall since 2012

Construction output has fallen for the sixth consecutive quarterly period, according to figures released by the Office for National Statistics on
10 January. The latest fall, of two per cent, represents the biggest drop since August 2012.

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ORR publishes annual rail funding report

Income from rail fares received by the industry has increased by 18.2 per cent in the last five years, according to the Office of Road and Rail (ORR).Released
on Thursday (18 January), the ORR’s annual rail funding report also shows that passenger journeys have increased by 18.4 per cent..

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Quarterly analysis shows increase in rail freight usage

The amount of freight carried by rail increased to 4.3 billion tonnes between July and September 2017, a two per cent increase on the same quarter in 2016, according to the Office of Road and Rail (ORR).Despite the increase in
rail use, there was a three per cent decrease in the amount of freight lifted overall, compared to the same quarter in 2016.

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Commuters rate rail companies in Which? survey

Rail commuters have rated Grand Central as the best performing train company in the UK and Southern Rail as the worst, according to the results of a survey released by ‘Which?’ on Tuesday (16 January). The survey
ranked the 28 train companies across the country after asking 14,000 passengers about their punctuality, value for money, seat availability and standing space.

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Transport for the North launches draft Strategic Plan

Transport for the North last week began a 13-week consultation on its draft Strategic Transport Plan, which it hopes could deliver 850,000 jobs to the region by 2050. The 30-year programme of infrastructure investment
includes road and rail improvements across the North, in addition to plans for introducing smart ticketing across the busiest public transport routes.

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Energy and environment

Latest Household Energy Efficiency statistics released

The Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy has published its latest statistics on the Government’s Energy Company Obligation (ECO) and Green Deal (GD). It found that as of October 2017, 2.3 million carbon saving
and energy efficiency measures had been installed in around 1.8 million UK properties. Estimates suggested that these have achieved energy savings of between 127,614 and 133,996 GWh.

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EA’s flood risk consultation kicks off

On 15 January, the Environment Agency launched a public consultation on how rivers are managed and maintained across the country. It is asking for views on proposals to localise flood risk management activities in areas with a
low risk of flooding. This would require internal drainage boards and district councils to take on more responsibility for flood risk by carrying out maintenance works as required. The consultation closes on 12 February 2018

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Cost of renewables continues to fall

International Renewable Energy Agency. The Renewable Power Generation Costs in 2017 report, which looks into the latest trends for each of the main renewable power technologies, has also identified that international
competition is helping to spread the best project development practices, reducing technology and project risk and making renewables more cost-competitive than ever before.

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Solid plans needed for UK to meet carbon targets

The Committee on Climate Change has called for ‘vague ambitions’ to be turned into solid plans to help meet the UK’s legally binding carbon targets. This is in response to the Government’s Clean Growth Strategy which was published in October 2017. The Committee has indicated that while the
Strategy has placed more emphasis on reducing emissions, there need to be more details around plans to ban new petrol and diesel cars by 2040 for it to be truly effective in helping the UK reach carbon targets.

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Other News

British shopping behaviour shifts online over festive period.

Figures released by the British Retail Consortium (BRC) on 15 January indicate a change in British shopping behaviour over the Christmas period. The 3.5 per cent decline in footfall in December was the sharpest since March 2013,
when it dropped by 5.2 per cent. Scotland, the South West and Greater London saw the greatest reductions at 4.7, 5.2 and 3.7 per cent respectively..

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Private Finance Initiatives costing taxpayers billions

On 18 January the National Audit Office published its PFI and PF2 report which revealed that taxpayers are spending billions of pounds extra on
hospitals and schools under private finance initiative (PFI) schemes with little evidence of any benefit.

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