Week commencing 27 May 2019

In today's bulletin

• Affordable rented housing delivery comes under scrutiny
• London no closer to fixing housing crisis

• Heathrow announces plans to curb pollution
• Businesses put pressure on Government over climate policy

Property, Planning and Regeneration

Affordable rented housing delivery comes under scrutiny

The Housing, Communities and Local Government Select Committee has launched an inquiry into the long-term delivery of social and affordable rented housing. The inquiry, headed by committee chair Clive Betts MP, will review how effective current Government strategies are at providing social and affordable homes to rent.
This will include examining the current level of funding, as well as programmes designed to stimulate delivery by local authorities and housing associations. The House of Commons committee will also look beyond the UK and assess what can be learnt from successful schemes in other countries.

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Upsurge in new home figures in April

The National House Building Council (NHBC) has reported a 21 per cent year-on-year increase in the number of homes registered to be built in April. Figures published on 29 May show some 13,527 new homes were registered to be built, compared to 11,218 a year ago.
The large rise can be attributed to a growth in the number of larger developments, an increase in appetite in the private rental sector and the impact of the freezing weather in spring 2018. Seven of the 12 UK regions saw an increase, including in London where registration numbers were up 61 per cent.

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Mayor announces new housing panel

A panel of representatives from the voluntary and community sectors will advise the Mayor of London on housing policies for the capital. The London Housing Panel – announced by Sadiq Kahn on 30 May – has been jointly established with Trust for London, an independent charity focused on tackling poverty and inequality.
The panel will be chaired by Raji Hunjan, CEO of anti-poverty charity Zacchaeus 200 Trust (Z2K) and the only member of the 15-strong panel to serve as an individual as supposed to an organisation.

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Housebuilders’ report demonstrates benefits of new homes

The Home Builders Federation (HBF) has released a report demonstrating the multiple benefits a development can have on the local economy. The ‘Greater London Economic Footprint of Home Building’ report released on 31 May, shows new homes have contributed more than £5.5 billion to the London economy over the last 12 months and provided over 104,000 supported and sustained jobs.
If the Government’s housing target of 66,000 new homes per year until 2029 can be met, these figures will continue to rise, with the potential to make over £100 billion from the industry.

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London no closer to fixing housing crisis

London is falling short of meeting housing demand according to new research from Grant Thornton UK LLP. The research, published on 31 May, revealed just 46 per cent of homes given consent in 2015 were completed by last year, an attrition rate 13 per cent higher than in 2016.
Last year also saw the lowest number of affordable housing completions since 2014, yet the number of affordable homes given planning permission has increased. Analysis shows a disparity in housing delivery across London, with 66 per cent of the capital’s new homes being built in zones 1-3.

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House prices continue to stagnate

Data analysis shows that increases in UK house prices throughout May continued at a sluggish 0.6 per cent, constituting the sixth consecutive month of less than one per growth in the market. According to Nationwide’s House Price Index (HPI), the housing market is benefiting from healthy conditions in the labour market and low borrowing costs, but political uncertainty is supressing growth.
It warns, however, that first-time buyers are struggling to pull together a deposit, with the average first-time buyer in London needing to save for 15 years to afford a 20 per cent deposit.

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Heathrow announces plans to curb pollution

Heathrow Airport will introduce an Ultra-Low Emission Zone in a move targeted at limiting vehicle pollution and funding new public transport initiatives, it was announced on 29 May. The charge will apply to older and more polluting cars from 2022.
The cost of entering the zone will likely be between £10 and £15 – with the money generated set to fund infrastructure such as upgrading the Piccadilly Line and maintaining Crossrail and National Rail links to the airport.

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Rail freight industry appeals for investment and reform

Rail freight sector chiefs have called on the Government to invest in joining up road and rail freight networks and implement a more coordinated timetable to improve sustainability and efficiency in the industry.
The proposed reforms, designed to allow rail freight to compete more equally with road freight, will reduce carbon emissions by 76 per cent and remove HGVs from congested roads, claims the Rail Delivery Group.

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On-demand bus service trial launched

A trial of a new demand-responsive bus service has been launched in Sutton, south London, aimed at improving connectivity with existing public transport and reducing car usage. The year-long ‘GoSutton’ trial, which was launched on 28 May, has an app that lets passengers book journeys, then directs them to a nearby virtual bus stop and routes the vehicle in real-time.
It is hoped the scheme will help towards the Mayor of London’s target of increasing public transport use, walking and cycling to 80 per cent of journeys by 2041.

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Energy and Environment

Businesses put pressure on Government over climate policy

Over 120 UK businesses have signed an open letter to the Prime Minister urging the Government to adopt a target of net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. Sent on 30 May, the letter calls for ambitious legislation aimed at delivering the target recommended by the Committee on Climate Change.
. The group of signatories included CEOs from across the professional services, development, transport and energy sectors including CBRE, Heathrow, ARUP, Grosvenor and John Lewis.

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Energy technologies still falling short

The International Energy Agency (IEA) has released its latest ‘Tracking Clean Energy Progress’ report which shows that that only seven of 45 energy technologies and sectors assessed are on track to achieve the long-term goals set out by the Paris Agreement on climate change. The latest analysis highlights that despite some positive progress, deployment rates, policy ambition and industry efforts are still not up to standard.
But it was a record year for electric vehicles, with global sales reaching two million in 2018, with more than half of these in China.

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Other News

Council spending on local services set to fall

Councils continue to reduce spending on local services as funding looks set to become increasingly tight, a new report from the Institute for Fiscal Studies has revealed. ‘English council funding: what’s happened and what’s next?’, published on 29 May, shows overall council spending on local services has reduced by 21 per cent since 2009-10.
Planning and development and housing services experienced the greatest cuts, at more than 50 per cent, as services such as social care were protected. The report calls for more council funding as well as greater decision-making power for local authorities as we move into the 2020s.

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