Week commencing 1 April 2019

In today's bulletin

• Mayor of London pledges £200 million to affordable housing
• Housebuilding not enough to lift construction sector

• Councils will get £200 million for road repairs
• Mayor of London reports air quality improvements ahead of new ultra-low emission zone

Property, Planning and Regeneration

Mayor of London pledges £200 million to affordable housing

Housing associations in the capital will receive an additional £200 million of funding under a new subsidy announced on 1 April by Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan.
The scheme is aimed at ensuring the continued delivery of affordable homes post-Brexit and lessening its impact on the housing market. The funds are intended to offset a slowdown in new home sales and incentivise registered providers to switch market sale properties to homes for rent below market level.

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Housebuilding not enough to lift construction sector

Residential building work proved a bright spot during a flat month for UK construction output in March, according to the latest IHS Markit/CIPS UK Construction Total Activity. Published on 2 April, the survey shows a fall in both commercial work and civil engineering activity amid doubt over the domestic economic outlook.
The Federation of Master Builders (FMB) blamed the stilted performance on uncertainty among consumers and contractors, as well as a loss of EU skilled workers. The trade association called on Government to reach a resolution on Brexit soon and reignite confidence in the sector.

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House prices dip in March

A 1.6 per cent fall in prices during March means the average UK property is now valued at £233,181, the latest Halifax House Price Index shows.
Despite the small monthly decrease, the data released on 5 April shows that house prices were up 2.6 per cent in the first quarter of 2019 compared with the same period last year.

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Short-term lets could displace local residents

The success of short-term rental providers like Airbnb may lead to a loss of privately rented homes and displacement of residents, according to the UK Housing Review 2019 published on 4 April.
The analysis from the Chartered Institute of Housing (CIH) shows Airbnb has 77,000 lets in the capital alone and warns that poor regulation, combined with rising rents and property values, is adversely impacting local housing markets. CIH recommends better data collection and monitoring, tightening regulations and enforcing caps on the number of short-term rentals in high-pressure areas.

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North trumps south in prime housing market

New figures from Savills show that the regions outperformed London in the UK’s prime housing market during the first quarter of 2019. Released on 3 April, Savills prime residential indices Q1 2019 shows average values remained unchanged throughout the period, performing better than expected given the current political climate and levels of consumer confidence.
Scotland was the strongest regional market with values rising 2.3 per cent, while the Midlands and the North of England increased by 0.7 per cent, and London dropped by 2.5 per cent.

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Transport

Councils will get £200 million for road repairs

Local councils will receive over £200 million of additional funding for road maintenance and repairs under plans announced by the Secretary of State for Transport, The Rt Hon Chris Grayling MP. £50 million has been awarded to fix potholes and boost flood resilience and a further £150 million to reward best practice.
Malcom Bingham, Head of Road Network Management Policy at the Freight Transport Association, said the funding would have a long-term impact on the country’s road network but was not a comprehensive solution following underinvestment in recent years.

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Rail investment pays dividends

The success of the West Coast Mainline is an important reminder of the justification for further investment in rail and the long-term benefits for communities across the country, according to the Campaign for Better Transport (CBT).
Published on 1 April, Transformation of the West Coast Mainline: How rail investment is benefitting people, the environment and the economy claims investment and collaboration by Government and industry has led to growth in local economies along the line, less congested roads and lower carbon emissions. CBT argues that network issues and negativity around some major projects must not undermine the role of rail in connecting the country.

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Energy and Environment

Mayor of London reports air quality improvements ahead of new ultra-low emission zone

Updates to the London Atmospheric Emission Inventory (LAEI) published by Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, show two million people in London live in areas with illegal levels of air pollution. On 1 April the Mayor’s office highlighted positive changes in 2019, with the number of hours when the city exceeded the legal limit for nitrogen dioxide 57 per cent lower compared with the same period last year.
The Mayor also reported improved awareness of the new ultra-low emission zone – now at 80 per cent according to a YouGov poll – and launched an interactive map of air quality across London

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Innovation and collaboration key to combatting climate change

Innovation and collaboration between sectors will play a vital role in reducing greenhouse gas emissions, according to two pieces of research published by Aldersgate Group on 4 April.
The papers – Accelerating innovation towards net zero emissions and Zeroing in: capturing the opportunities from a UK net zero emission target – argue that a net zero emissions target is achievable through cross-sector information sharing and widespread deployment of technology, including heat pumps and electric vehicles.

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Other News

Brexit means devolution says Communities Committee

A devolution framework for local authorities should be released within one month of the UK’s departure from the European Union, the Housing, Communities and Local Government Select Committee has urged. The committee’s post-Brexit policy statement, issued on 3 April, calls for greater fiscal devolution and new powers to address challenges, including skills, productivity, housing and infrastructure.
The group also wants Government to consult with local authorities on post-Brexit domestic policy and the transfer of legislation back to the UK.

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