Week commencing 11 February 2019

In today's bulletin

• Tenant Fees Bill becomes law
• Proposals to speed up planning appeals

• Mayors want £1.5bn national ‘scrap for cash’ fund
• Britain behind on EU recycling target

Property, Planning and Regeneration

Tenant Fees Bill becomes law

Renters will see security deposits capped at five weeks’ rent as part of reforms to clamp down on ‘hidden and unexpected fees’ charged by landlords or agents.
The Tenant Fees Bill was granted Royal Assent on 12 February and will come into effect on 1 June. Government estimates predict that the new laws will save tenants across the country up to £240m a year, equivalent to up to £70 per household.

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Proposals to speed up planning appeals

The planning appeals process is unnecessarily long and should be slashed from 47 to 26 weeks, an independent review by leading economist Bridget Rosewell CBE has recommended.
The review found that a lack of qualified inspectors, outdated administrative procedures and poor IT were hampering the progress of current appeal inquiries, although the quality of decision-making was not found to be affected. Published on 12 February, the report claims faster planning appeals would give both housebuilders and communities greater certainty and confidence in the process.

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Social housing could have saved renters £1.8 billion

Building 100,000 new council homes a year over the past two decades would have generated an extra £1.8 billion in disposable income over the same period, according to research from the Local Government Association (LGA).
Published on 15 February, the research suggests that this building programme would have enabled all housing benefit claimants to move to social rent homes by 2016. The LGA claims that the rising bill from private landlords has cost the Government an extra £7bn in housing benefit over the past decade.

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Review Green Belt to meet urgent housing need

All Green Belt boundaries should be reviewed, starting with areas lacking a ten-year supply of housing land, a report issued on 9 February by the Institute of Economic Affairs has suggested.
Delivering More Homes states that the planning system has become ‘too complex’, and that a general presumption in favour of sustainable development should return. Its recommendations include setting up Special Purpose Vehicles to accelerate development and making it easier for housebuilders to deliver homes on smaller sites.

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Housing market lacks new year cheer

UK housing market activity remains subdued, with new enquiries, sales and instructions all continuing to fall in January 2019, the latest RICS UK residential market survey has found.
The analysis released on 14 February reveals pricing sentiment remained negative for the fourth month in succession, led by reported declines in London and the South East. The letting market bucked the downwards trend, however, with demand rising modestly in the three months to January.

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House prices grow at slowest rate for half a decade

House prices grew by just 2.5 per cent in the 12 months to December 2018, the slowest rate of growth in more than five years.
Data published by the Office for National Statistics on 13 February shows the North East driving the slowdown with a one per cent decline in house prices, followed by London where prices fell by 0.6 per cent. The average UK house price rose marginally to £231,000 in December 2018, compared to £225,000 in December 2017.

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Mayors want £1.5bn national ‘scrap for cash’ fund

City leaders have called on the Government to create a £1.5bn vehicle scrappage programme to take older, more polluting vehicles off the road. The mayors of London, Liverpool City Region, the West of England and Sheffield City Region combined forces at the National Clean Air Summit on 14 February to ask for greater central investment in air quality, including the adoption of World Health Organisation pollution limits.
A national scrappage initiative could get rid of nearly half a million high-emissions vehicles, according to UK100, a network of local government leaders pushing for a shift to 100 per cent clean energy by 2020.

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Traffic jams are £8bn pickle for economy

Traffic jams cost the UK economy almost £8bn in 2018 and will only get worse if authorities fail to adopt new transport solutions, a study published on 12 February by transport data firm Inrix has concluded.
Drivers lost 227 hours due to road congestion in London, which came sixth in the global traffic impact rankings, while Birmingham was named the UK’s second most congested city with an average of 165 hours lost. Edinburgh and London were tied as the nation’s slowest cities, with an average last mile speed of only seven miles per hour.

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Energy and Environment

Britain behind on EU recycling target

UK households recycled 45.7 per cent of their rubbish in 2017, according to data released by the Department of Environment, Food & Rural Affairs on 14 February. While this is up from 45.2 per cent in 2016, the marginal increase suggests that the UK will fall short of its EU target to recycle half of its household waste by 2020.
Wales is currently leading the UK with a 57.6 per cent recycling rate, compared to 43.5 per cent in Scotland.

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Renewable energy to power the world by 2040

Renewables will become the largest single source of global power generation by 2040, BP has predicted in its 2019 Energy Outlook. Published on 14 February, the forecast suggests that global energy demand will increase approximately a third over the next twenty years, driven by improving living standards globally.
BP expects renewables to penetrate the global energy system faster than any fuel in history, but the challenge of managing the intermittency issues associated with their output will also grow accordingly.

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Blustery weather creates new wind power record

Wind turbines generated a new peak of 36 per cent of Britain’s electricity demand, RenewableUK announced on 11 February. The record level was reached between 12:15pm and 13:45pm on 8 February when turbines generated 15.32 gigawatts, beating the previous record of 15.04GW set on 18 December 2018.
RenewableUK’s executive director Emma Pinchbeck said the recording was “yet another demonstration of how our energy mix is shifting to renewables, with onshore and offshore wind in the vanguard.”

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Natural gas dependency frustrating climate goals

Increased Government investment and incentivisation is needed to reduce the amount of natural gas used in the UK energy sector, a new report from Bright Blue has found. Pressure in the pipeline, released on 15 February, argues for the introduction of a ‘low carbon gas obligation’ to encourage the use of renewable biogas instead of methane-based natural gas.
The Conservative think tank states that emissions from the combustion of natural gas were responsible for 35 per cent of the UK’s total greenhouse gas emissions in 2016, approximately half of which were associated with heating.

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Cancellation of Zero Carbon Homes policy weighed

The Government’s decision to scrap its Zero Carbon Homes policy is putting more than £200 a year on energy bills for new-build home buyers, the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit (ECIU) has claimed.
Published on 11 February, the not-for-profit organisation’s research states that carbon emissions from UK homes have risen slightly over the past two years in the absence of an energy efficiency scheme. ECIU claims the Zero Carbon Homes policy would have prevented the increase had it not been cancelled in 2015.

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Other News

UK economy sees 2018 out with a whimper

The UK economy grew just 0.2 per cent in the fourth quarter of 2018, with the manufacturing, construction and some services sectors in decline.
Analysis by IHS Markit, released on 13 February, showed a sharp contraction in December with a 0.4 per cent drop in output – the most significant monthly decline for almost three years. Manufacturing was the weakest sector in the fourth quarter, experiencing a 0.9 per cent decline in output, while construction dropped 0.3 per cent.

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