Week commencing 21 January 2019

In today's bulletin

• Overhaul of complaints system announced
• Mayor to cap rents for Londoners

• Renewable energy could fill Wylfa gap
• Report calls for reduction in air traffic noise

Property, Planning and Regeneration

Overhaul of complaints system announced

Plans to create one complaints service for the entire housing market for the first time were announced by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government on 21 January.
The Rt Hon James Brokenshire MP, Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, said the Housing Complaints Resolution Service would simplify and streamline the system, making it easier for people in all types of housing to resolve disputes and claim compensation. Under the plans, private landlords will be legally required to sign up to the redress system and face fines for not doing so.

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Mayor to cap rents for Londoners

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, is working on proposals to stabilise private rents in the capital. His announcement on 23 January follows polling by the Greater London Authority (GLA) and YouGov, that revealed over two thirds of Londoners are in favour of capping private rents.
James Murray AM, Deputy Mayor for Housing and Residential Development, will work with Karen Buck MP to develop the blueprint for rent stabilisation before Mr Khan seeks approval from Government.

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Build to rent boom following planning policy change

The number of build to rent homes under construction in the UK rose by 39 per cent in the last year, according to research from the British Property Federation and Savills. The figures published on 17 January show that that there are now 139,508 build to rent homes either in planning, construction or complete across the UK.
The increase comes after changes were made to the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) in 2018, including specific guidance for local authorities when handling planning applications from the build to rent sector.

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Brexit one factor slowing private sector building

Brexit uncertainty, financial constraints and the ongoing shortage of skilled labour are causing an overall housing market slowdown, according to the Q4 2018 RICS Construction and Infrastructure Market Survey, published on 24 January. Only 20 per cent of surveyors reported an increase in private housing activity in the final quarter of the year, down from 30 per cent the previous quarter.
While the view from the public sector was mixed, public sector housing growth rose to 14 per cent. The report suggests the Government’s removal of the Housing Revenue Account (HRA) borrowing cap in the Autumn Budget 2018 has started to stimulate growth in this area.

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Optimistic outlook for construction growth despite downgrade

The Construction Products Association (CPA) downgraded its forecasts for UK construction growth in 2019 from 2.3 per cent to 0.3 per cent on 21 January.
However, the CPA’s State of Trade Survey (2018 Q4), published on 24 January, revealed improved performance towards the end of 2018 and an optimistic outlook for the industry in 2019. Despite continued Brexit uncertainties, the CPA anticipates growth in factory output, harbour sectors and other sub-sectors in the first quarter of the year.

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Report calls for reduction in air traffic noise

A report from London Assembly Environment Committee has set out recommendations for minimising the impact of aviation operations on London residents.
Published on 23 January, Aircraft Noise, calls for changes to noise disturbance regulations, flight path management and flight timetables – including restrictions on night time and early morning flights. The report also states that expansions of Heathrow Airport and London City Airport should be halted to reduce noise levels.

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Sustained investment needed in electric vehicle infrastructure

The National Infrastructure Commission (NIC) has renewed its call for additional Government funding to improve the UK’s electric vehicle charging network. In its National Infrastructure Assessment, published in July 2018, the NIC proposed that charging infrastructure should meet nearly 100 per cent of consumer demand by 2030.
Its latest push for increased support comes after the Kia e-Niro became the first electric car to win the What Car? Car of the Year award.

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New strategy to propel maritime innovation

Virtual reality training for seafarers and a Maritime Innovation Hub are part of new Government proposals to enhance the UK’s ocean economy over the next thirty years.
Maritime 2050: Navigating the Future, launched by the Secretary of State for Transport, the Rt Hon Chris Grayling MP, on 24 January, also includes a framework for testing autonomous vessels in UK waters. According to Maritime UK, the value of the global seafaring economy is set to double to $3 trillion by 2030.

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Energy and Environment

Renewable energy could fill Wylfa gap

Scrapping plans for nuclear power plants may present opportunities for renewable alternatives, a new report has suggested. ‘Filling the nuclear gap’, published on 17 January by the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit (ECIU), advises that low-carbon energy sources could fill the space left by the Wyfla Nuclear Power Station as plans for others, including Oldbury Nuclear Power Station, remain uncertain.
It suggests these low-carbon alternatives would reduce expenditure, ensure a steady supply of energy and enable the UK to progress towards its climate targets.

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Offshore wind market guide updated

The Crown Estate and the Offshore Renewable Energy (ORE) Catapult has updated its guidance for new entrants to the UK offshore wind market, publishing an extended version of the Guide to an offshore wind farm on 24 January.
The guide, produced by BVG Associates, helps stakeholders and new market entrants to understand how an offshore wind farm is built and operated, and includes a focus on maintenance, service activities, decommissioning, floating wind and emerging technologies in offshore wind.

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Other News

Brexit impacts manufacturing mood

The UK’s impending EU departure has caused a sharp fall in optimism within the manufacturing sector, the latest quarterly CBI Industrial Trends Survey, published on 23 January, has shown. In the fastest decline since the EU referendum in summer 2016, the survey of 326 manufacturing firms found that business optimism in the quarter to January dropped by 23 per cent due to concerns around export prospects after Brexit.
The survey also showed that, while domestic new orders stagnated, new export orders grew following a fall in the three months to October 2018.

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