Week commencing 29 October 2018

In today's bulletin

• Homes England announces housing association partnerships
• Five year low on house price growth

• £35bn boost to Britain’s railway approved
• RenewableUK: Opportunity for UK offshore wind cable contracts

Property, Planning and Regeneration

Letwin report calls for new planning rules to boost building

Sir Oliver Letwin MP’s review into build-out rates which aims to help government towards its target of delivering 300,000 homes a year, was released on Monday (29 October).
The report found no evidence of land banking among larger developers but called on housebuilders to diversify the “highly uniform properties” currently on offer and suggested incentives for them to do so. It also suggested an expanded role for councils in major housebuilding and the formation of a new National Expert Committee to advise them.

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Homes England announces housing association partnerships

Homes England has announced seven new strategic partnerships with housing associations, aimed at delivering 13,475 more homes by March 2022.
This is the second such announcement in recent months and follows the confirmation of partnerships with eight housing associations in July. Paul Hackett, chair of the G15, welcomed the partnerships, calling them “another important step for housing delivery”.

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Homes England sets out five-year strategic plan

Homes England has released details of how it plans to improve housing affordability over the next five years.
Homes England’s Strategic Plan 2018/19 – 2022/23 calls for more support for smaller housebuilders, an emphasis on better design and the unlocking of public and private land which cannot currently be brought to market.

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Project to explore allocation of social housing

The Chartered Institute of Housing (CIH) has launched a new project to investigate how social housing is allocated across England.
The project will explore how housing associations and councils are allocating social housing and hopes to stimulate debate on how improvements could be made.

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New homes at eleven-year high

More than 43,500 new homes were registered in the third quarter of 2018. This is, the highest level since the third quarter of 2007, according to the latest registration statistics from the National House Building Council (NHBC).
The figures show that from September 2017, London, Yorkshire and Humberside, the South West and Scotland all saw significant increases in new homes. London experienced an increase of 141 per cent, 6,007 new houses registered, compared to only 2,492 the year before.

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Five year low on house price growth

The latest Nationwide House Price Index revealed that annual house price growth was at 1.6 per cent in October, its lowest level since May 2013.
Robert Gardner, Nationwide’s Chief Economist, said the figures are, “broadly in line with our expectations, as the squeeze on household budgets and the uncertain economic outlook is likely to have dampened demand, even though borrowing costs remain low by historic standards and unemployment is at a 40-year low.”

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Better management of roads needed, say commercial operators

New research from watchdog Transport Focus, published 1 November, shows that only half of freight, logistics, coach and delivery companies think the national road network, managed by Highways England, meets their needs.
In the survey, Logistics and Coach Manager Survey: England’s strategic roads, operators said issues with road surface quality, management of disruption and the facilities at services were effecting their bottom line.

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£35bn boost to Britain’s railway approved

On 31 October the Office of Rail and Road (ORR) approved Network Rail’s £35 billion plan to make Britain’s railway network more passenger focused and reliable.
The project, set to start on 1 April 2019, will see track defects addressed, more funding for timetabling and planning and the implementation of new ideas from across the industry.

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Campaign for Better Transport: Budget pothole and bus fund not enough

The Campaign for Better Transport, responding to Chancellor of the Exchequer, the Rt Hon Philip Hammond’s budget, welcomed the £420 million made available to fix potholes, but said it is not enough to repair ‘the years of neglect of local road maintenance’.
To address the backlog of repairs, the group has said nine billion pounds would need to be spent on the road network.

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Energy and environment

RenewableUK: Opportunity for UK offshore wind cable contracts

A new report by RenewableUK, published 31 October, highlights the opportunities for UK companies to secure multi-million-pound contracts in manufacturing and installing offshore wind cables.
The report, Offshore Wind Cable Manufacturing and Installation Forecast 2018-2028, is the first of its kind to offer market forecasts. It highlights the increasingly important role power cables will play in the energy system as offshore wind becomes a major global power source.

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Carbon capture and storage (CCS) key for zero-emission cement

Research reveals that the construction sector can cut polluting emissions by up to 80 per cent by applying efficiency measures along the whole value chain.
The research, by the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich, published in A sustainable future for the European cement and concrete industry shows that carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology could cut emissions completely by 2050.

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How the UK could be low carbon by 2050

Updates to the Options, Choices and Actions report published by the Energy Technologies Institute indicate that a balanced, multi-vector approach can deliver an affordable, low carbon UK energy transition.
While acknowledging that there are several possible UK energy systems, the updated report continues to recommend that commercial development should focus on bioenergy, Carbon Capture Storage (CCS), offshore wind, new nuclear, gaseous systems, efficiency of vehicles and efficiency of heat provision for buildings.

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Other News

UK private sector growth holds steady in October

The latest CBI Growth Indicator shows that UK private sector growth was steady in the quarter to October, with firms reporting a 10 per cent rise in output.
The rise was driven by growth in business and professional services and distribution, while the volume of consumer services fell slightly. Private sector activity is expected to continue to grow at a similar pace over the three months to January, but growth in retail is expected to weaken.

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Retail sales slow-down following summer boost

Retail sales growth slowed in the year to October. This follows four consecutive months of firm sales growth during the summer, according to the latest monthly CBI Distributive Trades Survey released on 30 October.
The survey also revealed that sales volumes in October were significantly below average for the time of year.

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