Week commencing 4 March 2019

In today's bulletin

• Increased warehouse space required to support housing delivery targets
• Renter’s money given increased protections

• Slowdown in UK air passenger growth
• Offshore Wind Sector Deal launched

Property, Planning and Regeneration

Increased warehouse space required to support housing delivery targets

20.6 million sq ft of warehouse floorspace is needed each year to meet the Government’s annual housing target of 300,000 new homes. What Warehousing Where, a new report commissioned by the British Property Federation and produced by Turley, revealed that a ratio of 69 sq ft of warehouse floorspace is needed for every home in England to meet consumer expectations for quick deliveries.
However, total warehouse floorspace has only increased by 20 million sq ft in two of the past six years.

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Renter’s money given increased protections

Government-backed client money protection (CMP) schemes will come into force from 1 April 2019 after Minister for Housing and Homelessness, Heather Wheeler MP, brought forward plans to better regulate property agents.
The regulation aims to provide increased protection for tenants’ and landlords’ money from theft or misuse, helping to protect approximately £2.7 billion of client money. Private-rented agents will be required to sign up to the new scheme or face fines of up to £30,000.

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Put environment at heart of housebuilding programme

Influential names in the UK’s built environment have called on the Chancellor of the Exchequer, the Rt Hon Philip Hammond MP, to help tackle the environmental impacts of housebuilding in the Government’s forthcoming Environment Bill.
Coordinated by the UK Green Building Council and GreenerUK, an open letter urged Government to develop legally binding targets to help the industry meet its environmental objectives, such as combatting biodiversity loss and improving water quality. The letter was signed by 23 leading construction and property businesses, including Berkeley Group Holdings and Clarion Housing Group.

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BPF calls for PropTech strategy

The British Property Federation (BPF) has called on the Government to develop a coherent PropTech strategy, as new research from the trade association finds that the UK is well placed to act as a global hub for real estate technology.
Published on 6 March, The LIQUID Report: Leading the Digital Transformation of Global Real Estate reveals that the UK is already a front runner in terms of innovation and data infrastructure but argues that the creation of a government-backed digital real estate forum is needed for it to remain competitive globally.

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House price growth hits 2.8 per cent

House prices recorded a 2.8 per cent year-on-year growth in the three months to February, considerably higher than the 0.8 per cent annual increase seen in January. Released on 7 March, Halifax’s house price index reported that housing in the UK now costs on average £236,800, up from £224,755 compared to this time last year.
However, the index also cites figures from the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors, which show that demand for housing and the number of overall sales fell month-on-month.

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Growth in construction comes to an end

Despite residential work recording growth for the thirteenth month running, overall construction activity declined for the first time in 11 months in February, according to the latest IHS Markit / CIPS UK Construction Purchasing Managers’ Index released on 4 March.
Survey respondents reported that Brexit uncertainty was impacting decision-making, with reductions in commercial building and civil engineering activity leading the decline.

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Surge in capital’s tall buildings pipeline

A record number of buildings over 20 storeys are either proposed, in planning or under construction in London this year, according to the sixth London Tall Buildings Survey.
Published on 4 March by New London Architecture and delivered in partnership with property consultancy GL Hearn, the study reveals that 76 tall buildings are expected to complete in 2019 – a three-fold increase compared to the year before. 90 per cent of the proposed tall buildings are residential and expected to deliver over 110,000 new homes for London.

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Transport

Slowdown in UK air passenger growth

Growth in the number of passengers travelling through UK airports dropped to 2.7 per cent in the year to 2018, according to new figures from the Civil Aviation Authority published on 5 March. A decline of 3.3 percentage points on the previous year, the more modest growth was largely due to fewer passengers travelling between the UK and the EU.
However, the data also showed that 292 million people passed through UK airports last year, setting a new record for overall passenger numbers.

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Mayor of London and TfL deliver freight strategy

New micro-distribution centres to support sustainable deliveries and click-and-collect points at Tube stations are some of the initiatives included in the Freight Action Plan unveiled on 7 March by the Mayor of London Sadiq Khan and Transport for London. Intended to revolutionise how deliveries are made in the capital, the strategy looks to make increased use of water and rail freight to tackle pollution and congestion.
The Freight Transport Association, the London Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Federation of Small Businesses have called for the appointment of a dedicated Freight Commissioner to support the strategy’s implementation.

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Roadworks guarantee could be extended to five years

A consultation on plans to increase the guarantee on utility firms’ roadworks was launched on 6 March by the Transport Secretary, the Rt Hon Chris Grayling MP.
Under the terms of the proposal, utility companies would be required to fix any potholes that form as a result of works undertaken within the previous five years. The consultation will also introduce new standards for materials used in roadworks, including asphalt with a higher bitumen content.

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Energy and Environment

Offshore Wind Sector Deal launched

The Government and offshore wind industry launched the Offshore Wind Sector Deal on 7 March, setting out an objective to ensure that a third of UK electricity is produced by offshore wind power by 2030. The Deal also kickstarts an Offshore Wind Growth Partnership, designed to help British companies in regions like East Anglia and the North East to stay competitive through innovations in robotics, advanced manufacturing and materials.
The National Infrastructure Commission (NIC) welcomed the Deal, despite calling for 50 per cent of UK electricity to come from renewable sources by 2030 in its National Infrastructure Assessment published last year.

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CO2 emissions fall for sixth year running

The UK’s carbon dioxide emissions fell by 1.5 per cent last year thanks to a 16 per cent reduction in coal use, according to analysis by Carbon Brief published on 4 March.
2018 was the sixth year in a row that CO2 emissions have dropped and Carbon Brief claims that emissions are now at their lowest levels for 130 years.

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Other News

Stronger Towns Fund announcement met with criticism

The Government has launched a £1.6 billion fund which it says is aimed at helping less well-off towns in England following Brexit. Announced on 4 March, the Government said the Stronger Towns Fund is targeted at areas “that have not shared in the proceeds of growth in the same way as more prosperous parts of the country”.
However, critics say the funding is a “Brexit bribe” aimed at influencing MPs in leave-voting constituencies to back the Prime Minister’s Brexit deal, with others arguing it does not cover austerity cuts to local authority funding

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Apprenticeship scheme still in probation period

The Department for Education’s apprenticeship scheme needs more time to prove its economic value, a National Audit Office (NAO) report has concluded. The NAO highlighted that take-up of the apprenticeship levy was four per cent lower than Government expectations, meaning the scheme is still some way off being able to clearly demonstrate how it helps boost economic productivity.
The report proposed six recommendations to improve the scheme, including an assessment into whether the prioritisation of certain types of apprenticeships would secure better value for money.

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UK economy close to stalling in first quarter

The UK economy is on course for GDP growth of just 0.1 per cent in the first quarter of the year, according to new Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) data from IHS Markit.
Published on 5 March, the data reveals that the UK economy is close to stagnation and is expected to experience its weakest quarterly expansion since the final quarter of 2012. Despite this, many sectors registered an increase in activity ahead of the UK’s scheduled European Union departure at the end of March.

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