Week commencing 7 May 2018

In today's bulletin

• House prices drop 3.1 per cent in April
• Construction industry output fell by over £1 Billion in Q1 2018

• New Highways England framework to encourage rapid road repairs
• Hydrogen could solve excess electricity issue

Property, Planning and Regeneration

House prices drop 3.1 per cent in April

House prices dropped by 3.1 per cent last month, according to data released by Halifax on 8 May, while the overall annual growth for house prices is now at 2.2 per cent, bringing average house prices to £220,962.
The April results are in contrast to March’s 1.6 per cent rise, which Halifax believes reflects volatility in the short-term market.

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Construction industry output fell by over £1 Billion in Q1 2018

Figures published by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) on 10 May show that output in the construction industry fell by 2.7 per cent in the first quarter of 2018, a 4.9 per cent overall decrease compared to a year earlier.
The dip was led by an 8.8 per cent reduction in public sector house building activity while private housing output saw a fall of 1.6 per cent. The drop in output represented a total £1.4 billion loss in three months.

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Only half of new homes are built within 2km of a train station

A study released on Thursday (10 May) by the Royal Town Planning Institute has found that only 51 per cent of new homes build between 2015 and 2017 are within 2km of a train station.
The Location of Development study mapped permissions for over 220,000 homes in 12 city regions and the results have been published to coincide with the RTPI’s response to the government’s National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) consultation.

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Former ‘Toys R Us’ sites could offer space for 300,000 homes

A report published by Policy Exchange and Create London called Better Brownfield, how we can banish Boxland and create popular, mixed-use neighbourhoods and streets without losing jobs, suggested that hundreds of former “Toys ‘R’ Us-style” warehouse ‘sheds’ surrounded by disused car parks and scrubland should be redeveloped to provide up to 300,000 homes for Londoners.
The report identified 1,220 such locations across the UK.

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UKGBC demands Ministry of Housing shows more support for green housing

An open letter coordinated by the UK Green Build Council (UKGBC), a group representing ambitious cities and local authorities, was sent to Minister of State for Housing and Planning, Dominic Raab on 10 May. The letter, which coincided with the closing of the consultation for the revised National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF), demanded support for the UKGBC and their efforts to cut carbon emissions from new homes through the planning system.

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FMB calls for more regulation to ‘crush the cowboys’

The Federation of Master Builders has called on the government to introduce a licensing scheme in the construction industry to ensure a minimum level of competence and guard against ‘cowboy builders’.
When making the call on Thursday (10 May) the FMB claimed that almost 80 per cent of builders support the calls for more regulation.

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Strong increase in urban land values as Midlands demand grows

The first quarter of the year saw a four per cent increase in UK urban land values thanks to increased demand in Birmingham, Coventry and London commuter towns, according to research from Savills.
The findings, released on Wednesday (9 May), also showed a drop in demand for smaller sites in outer London, leading to a warning that this situation could risk the London Plan failing to meet housing targets.

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New Highways England framework to encourage rapid road repairs

Highways England has taken steps to streamline its response time for road resurfacing by signing up 11 firms that can be called on quickly, without going through a lengthy bidding process.
The arrangement will allow Highways England to expedite repairs of motorways and major A roads over the next four years, with the ability to spend up to £3.3bn if required.

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Digitalisation of the railways to boost customer experience and cut delays

On 10 May, The Rt Hon Chris Grayling MP and Network Rail chief executive, Mark Carne, launched the Digital Railway Strategy.
This will see all new trains and signalling equipment are digital, or ready for digital, from 2019 as well as introducing a number of measures to benefit passengers. These include the ability to safely run more trains per hour, cut delays by getting trains moving quickly and boosting on-board wi-fi connectivity. The measures form part of nearly £48 billion of investment in maintenance, modernisation and renewal on the rail network by 2024.

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Transport Focus calls for overhaul of rail fares

Independent travel watchdog, Transport Focus, has called for a rail fares system that passengers can trust and offers better value for money.
On 8 May it reaffirmed its commitment to “ensure the passenger voice is heard” and argued that any future regulation around rail ticketing should reflect modern travel trends, including the demand for smarter ticketing.

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Energy and environment

Hydrogen could solve excess electricity issue

A new report, Energy from Gas: Taking a Whole System Approach, published by the Institution of Mechanical Engineers calls for the Government to support changes in pipes and materials to allow excess electricity, produced by windfarms and solar arrays, to be stored in the gas grid in the form of hydrogen.
Published on 9 May the report examines how investment in technology would make the UK energy system greener and more efficient.

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Offshore wind to have at least 60 per cent British content

On 8 May, former energy minister Sir Michael Fallon called on the Department for Business, Energy and Industry Strategy (BEIS) to set a target that all offshore wind turbines should contain at least 60 per cent British content, a rise of 10 per cent on current levels.
Sir Michael said the UK is facing a “pivotal moment for offshore wind” which could make it a global leader in the wind energy industry.

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Other News

New council to help focus on manufacturing productivity

The EEF (Engineering Employers’ Federation), the trade body representing 20,000 manufacturers across the country, is calling for the immediate creation of an Industrial Strategy Council to identify an overall strategy to improve productivity in industrial sectors.

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UK retail ‘falls off cliff’ with biggest decline in 23 years

On 9 May the British Retail Consortium (BRC) announced that retail sales in the UK “fell off a cliff” in April 2018.
Overall, UK retail sales dropped by 4.2 per cent compared to April 2017. The BRC claims that the 3 and 12-month averages represent the sharpest decline recorded since January 1995.

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