Week commencing 10 December 2018

In today's bulletin

• Remortgaging at decade high
• Councils to share an extra £1.3 billion

• Revamped urban data tool relaunches
• Solar costs to decrease below Government estimate

Property, Planning and Regeneration

Remortgaging at decade high

A competitive market and attractive deals led to a 50,500 increase in remortgages in October 2018. This is 23.2 per cent more than in the same month in 2017 and the highest level in almost a decade, according to UK Finance’s mortgage trends update.
Released on 12 December, the data also indicated strong growth in first-time buyer mortgages, with new lending up 8.2 per cent on the previous year. According to the Director of Mortgages at UK Finance, schemes like Help to Buy are helping to support those looking to get their foot on the housing ladder.

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Councils to share an extra £1.3 billion

The Communities Secretary Rt Hon James Brokenshire MP has released funding plans which include £1.3 billion for Councils in England, to increase their core spending power for the next year. The Government hopes this will improve the services delivered to residents without increasing taxes. (CIH).
The plans are part of a multi-year funding settlement offered to all councils with the condition that they share their efficiency plans. This has been agreed by 97 per cent of local authorities.

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Inquiry into Modern Methods of Construction launched by Select Committee

On 12 December the Housing, Communities and Local Government Committee launched an inquiry into Modern Methods of Construction (MMC). The inquiry will consider how MMC could help construct more homes, more quickly, by using new approaches such as off-site manufacturing.
The Committee argues that MMC can improve predictability of work and costs, mitigate material shortages and reduce the impact of development on the local area.

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Survey suggests UK housing market slump due to Brexit

According to the November 2018 RICS UK Residential Market Survey published 13 December, buyers and sellers are sitting tight due to Brexit uncertainty.
The figures show that the number of buyers looking for a new home fell by 21 per cent in November 2018. This follows a 15 per cent fall the previous month.

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Transport

Revamped urban data tool relaunches

Data Hub, a leading online tool for transport data in UK cities, has relaunched offering improved statistics on congestion, road safety and road user satisfaction.
The tool, launched by the Urban Transport Group, brings together previously separate data from the Department for Transport, the Office for National Statistics, the Office for Rail and Road and local authorities.

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TfL to invest in modernising London’s transport network

Transport for London (TfL) has announced its plan to deliver transport improvements to make the city’s transport network healthier and safer. TfL’s Business Plan sets out its commitment to invest in modernising London’s transport network against the backdrop of an average £700 million decrease in government funding.
It also shows that TfL’s operating deficit of £968 million is forecast to reduce by more than £200 million by the end of 2019.

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New report identifies work needed to grow UK Public Chargepoint Network

Developments are necessary to ensure the Public Chargepoint Network (CPN) meets advances in technology and growing demand, according to a new report by the RAC Foundation. The report, Development of the UK Public Chargepoint Network, outlines the changes needed in the public’s perception of electric vehicles, and calls for an increase in government support for the CPN.
The RAC foundation suggests five fundamental requirements for improving the CPN, including matching supply to demand, increasing reliability and making installations commercially viable.

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‘Commuter students’ need a more flexible path through university, according to report

The Higher Education Policy Institute has published a new report called Homeward Bound: Defining, understanding and aiding ‘commuter students’. The study analyses the practical issues faced by students who live at home, including the commute, timetables, and difficulty participating in extra-curricular activities.
Calling on the Government to ensure the education system is equal for both students who move away and students who do not, researchers suggest that an increase in flexibility within higher education could increase the number of ‘commuters’.

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Energy and environment

Solar costs to decrease below Government estimate

Research by the Solar Trade Association concludes that the cost of large-scale solar energy in the UK could drop below £40/MWh by 2030. Recent figures show Levelised Costs of Electricity (LCOE) of between £50-60MWh, much lower than 2016 estimates from BEIS, and the Solar Trade Association’s own 2019 prediction of £80Mwh.
This analysis suggests that solar may soon be the cheapest form of electricity generation technology. However, there are still worries over Brexit uncertainty and grid constraints.

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UK announces ambition for world-leading ‘net-zero carbon’ cluster by 2040

Energy and Clean Growth Minister Rt Hon Claire Perry MP has announced plans for the UK to have a “net-zero carbon” cluster by 2040 at COP24 climate talks in Poland. The Government hopes this will be backed by up to £170m of funding from heavy industries such as steel, cement and chemicals.
Claire Perry stated that action against climate change and increasing growth in the UK economy can go hand in hand, and that the UK is already a leader on this issue. The plans will be part of the Government’s goal to support up to two million ‘green collar’ jobs by 2030, as set out in its Industrial Strategy.

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New report calls for more support for London Green Belt farmers

A report, Farming in London’s Green Belt, has been published by the London Assembly Environment Committee. The report voices the concerns of local farmers about the future of the Green Belt. It calls on the Mayor of London to work with local authorities to help farmers secure and keep land, to raise awareness of locally-grown food and to lobby for improvements to the Agriculture Bill.
There are currently at least 200 farms in Greater London. The Committee argues they are vital for providing sustainable food and absorbing carbon dioxide, heat and rainwater from the city centre.

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