Week commencing 12 March 2018

In today's bulletin

• Chancellor announces measures to boost housebuilding
• Councils empowered to tackle rogue private landlords

• Report highlights slow government response to air pollution
• CIWM backs UK plastic waste consultation

Property, Planning and Regeneration

Chancellor announces measures to boost housebuilding

The Rt Hon Philip Hammond MP, Chancellor of the Exchequer, has set out new government plans as part of the Spring Statement to boost affordable housebuilding.
The measures include a £100 million fund to back the Mayor of the West Midlands’ ambitious plan to deliver 215,000 homes, and confirmation of a £1.67 billion funding package for London to build homes.

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North West tops table on house price growth

Average UK house prices rose 0.5 per cent in February, marking the biggest rise in five months, according to a House Price Index compiled for Your Move and Reed Rains.
The North West now leads the regional house price growth league, with the East Midlands, South West and Wales all recording new peak price growth figures in the month. Annually, however, price growth continued to slow, slipping to 0.6 per cent in February from 0.7 per cent in January.

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Remortgages reach nine-year high in January

The number of remortgages in January 2018 reached a nine-year high, according to UK Finance’s latest mortgage trends update.
The month also saw the number of first-time buyers and home movers increase to 24,500 and 25,000 respectively, both increases on the same period in 2017.

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Councils empowered to tackle rogue private landlords

Councils are to be given new powers to tackle overcrowding and dangerous living conditions for private tenants in multiple occupancy homes.
Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Housing, Communities and Local Government, Heather Wheeler MP, announced the move on 15 March as part of wider measures to take tough action against rogue landlords. The new powers will include the ability to impose fines of up to £30,000.

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Transport

Cities to bid for new transport project funding

English city regions are being invited to bid for a share of £1.7bn funding made available for transport projects to increase productivity and reduce congestion.
Up to 10 cities will be chosen to develop their schemes in conjunction with the Department for Transport, The Rt Hon Philip Hammond MP announced on Tuesday 13 March. The initiative is part of the Transforming Cities Fund, which was launched as part of last year’s Autumn Budget.

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Electric car sales drop by a third

Battery-powered car sales in the first two months of the year have fallen by 34 per cent compared with the same period last year, new data from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) has shown.
The change reflected concern among consumers about the availability and cost of charging points, according to SMMT chief executive, Mike Hawes. However, the figures also showed an increase in plug-in hybrid sales, from 2,751 in January and February 2017 to 3,878 in the same months this year.

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Electric vehicles have the potential to power thousands of homes

Research carried out by OVO Energy has found that 51 per cent of Brits would opt for an electric car over traditional alternatives if they could save money in the long-term.
The research, released 14 March, also found that while interest in electric vehicles was high, less than a fifth of people were aware of vehicle-to-grid chargers or home batteries which could help cut costs. In fact, the current number of Nissan LEAFs in Britain could contribute more than 114MW of power to the grid if owners were aware of, and used, vehicle-to-grid technology – enough to power 300,000 homes.

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Number of bus journeys fall to lowest level for a decade

Latest figures from the Department for Transport Quarterly Bus Statistics show that there were 80 million fewer bus journeys across the country in the year ending December 2017, compared to the previous year.
The Local Government Authority (LGA) is concerned the decrease in bus travel could encourage greater congestion as well as poorer air quality. Declining passenger numbers could also threaten the viability of some services and routes, leaving those who rely on bus networks for travel unsupported and without alternative transport options.

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Report highlights slow government response to air pollution

A coalition of government committees has accused successive governments of dragging their heels on tackling air pollution and has backed Defra recommendations for a new Environmental Protection Agency to hold the government to account post-Brexit.
Its report, released 7 March, has urged ministers to bring forward an end to the sale of traditional petrol and diesel vehicles, suggesting the current 2040 target date for this is unambitious. It also raised concerns about the provision of infrastructure to support the increased use of low-emission vehicles and found that substantial efforts from both central government and local authorities would be required to address this.

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Energy and environment

CIWM backs UK plastic waste consultation

The Chartered Institution of Waste Management (CIWM) has welcomed the government’s consultation on single-use plastics but cautioned that any new proposals should form part of a wider appraisal of waste policy and use of resources.
It also called on the government to lead the way in tackling marine plastics pollution globally, suggesting the UK should use its international aid programme to support developing and middle-income countries in reducing plastic waste.

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Other News

Full-fibre broadband for all with £95 million fund

The first-wave of funding for the government’s Local Full Fibre Network was announced last week (13 March) and will be dispersed across thirteen areas of the UK.
Successful bidders include Belfast, Blackpool, Cardiff, London, North Yorkshire and The Highlands who will share in a £95 million pot. The funding will be allocated to a variety of projects that will seek to make the deployment of gigabit-capable full fibre infrastructure more commercially viable

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