Week commencing 19 August 2019

In today's bulletin

• Planning appeal process and guidance updated
• HS2 review

• Government set to miss carbon target
• Retailers braced for sharpest decline since financial crisis

Property, Planning and Regeneration

Planning appeal process and guidance updated

The Planning Inspectorate has published new guidance for the submission of Statement of Case and Statement of Common Ground for s.78 appeals alongside a new process for each. The changes came into force on 19 August and implement recommendations made in the Rosewell Report.
They are designed to streamline the planning appeal inquiry process so that it takes no more than 26 weeks from validation to decision.

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More homes not the answer says new report

Increasing the number of new homes will not solve the housing crisis and a fundamental rethink is needed to address the issue, a new report from the UK Collaborative Centre for Housing Evidence has said. Published on 20 August, Tackling the UK housing crisis: is supply the answer? argues that housing supply has outstripped household growth during the past ten years and the impact of low interest rates on home ownership has been overlooked.
Authored by Ian Mulheirn, executive director and chief economist at the Tony Blair Institute for Global Change, the document instead claims that high market rents are preventing young people from getting on the housing ladder and calls on the Government to intervene, either by subsidising first-time buyers or reducing financial incentives for private landlords.

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Young living in ‘bleak houses’ says Children’s Commissioner

The number of children growing up in homeless families in England is underestimated by official measures, new research published on 21 August by Children’s Commissioner, Anne Longfield, has revealed.
While official statistics show 124,000 children live in temporary accommodation in England, Bleak houses: Tackling the crisis of family homelessness in England argues a further 92,000 are living in ‘sofa-surfing’ families.

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UK set for Build-to-Rent boom

The UK’s Build-to-Rent (BTR) sector has the potential to increase in value from £9.6 billon to as much as £543.6 billion when it reaches maturity, according to new analysis from Savills published on 20 August.
The estate agent reports that individual buy-to-let landlords are feeling the pressure of tax and regulatory changes and are increasingly leaving the lettings market as the end of the Government’s Help to Buy approaches. Savills predicts the space created by these withdrawals will be filled by BTR.

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‘Traditional’ retirement housing resale value increases

New research into ‘traditional’ leasehold retirement housing has shown that recently built properties have on average improved their values upon resale. According to Understanding the factors that can influence the resale values of newly-built retirement properties, released by the Elderly Accommodation Counsel (EAC) on 20 August, a new retirement property built in 2009 with onsite management, but not care services, saw an increase in value of 5% when resold between five and nine years later.
In contrast, most retirement properties built between 2003 and 2008, and sold around the time of the 2007 recession, experienced a fall in value.

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HS2 review

On 21 August, Secretary of State for Transport, the Rt Hon Grant Shapps MP, announced an independent review of High Speed Two (HS2) Limited. The review, chaired by Douglas Oakervee, will examine the costs, deliverability and potential benefits of the project and advise on its continuation by the end of the year.
Lord Berkeley will act as deputy for the process, supported by a panel of experts drawn from across the business, academic and transport sectors.

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Central Crossrail delivery still on track

The central section of the Elizabeth Line remains on schedule to open between October 2020 and March 2021, according to an update from Crossrail Ltd. on 19 August. The company reported that testing and commissioning will be completed at many stations by the end of the year and dynamic testing will be in its final stages.
It said once the central section has opened, the service will be extended to the full length of the line as soon as possible.

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Local authorities given £9 million to prepare for Brexit

Local councils that cover, or are near to, major air, land or seaports will receive additional funding from the Government for Brexit preparations. The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government announced on 21 August that £4 million of the £9 million fund will go towards local resilience forums and over £2.6 million will be directed to local authorities in Kent due to the busy ports in the area.
The fund is not intended for infrastructure, but for councils to acquire extra staff and expertise where required.

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Energy and Environment

Government set to miss carbon target

The Government’s target of net zero emissions by 2050 is unachievable based on its current policies, according to the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee. In a report published on 22 August, the committee highlighted ten areas where low-carbon policy had been delayed or cut back in recent years, including the reduction of the plug-in grant for low-emission cars, the exclusion of onshore wind and large-scale solar power from renewable energy funding, and the delay of the Government’s new White Paper, The future of the energy market, which is yet to be published.
Its 10 recommendations to Government ranged from incentivising energy efficiency in home improvements to sustaining nuclear power and developing a strategy for the removal of greenhouse gases.

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City of London launches UK’s first wind microclimate guidelines

New guidelines from the City of London Corporation will act as a benchmark for acceptable wind conditions in the Square Mile and could form the basis for wind microclimate standards across the UK.
Launched on 20 August, the document sets out how developers can test the wind impact of their designs at the earliest possible stage to avoid the need to retrofit wind mitigation measures and incur additional costs.

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Other News

Retailers braced for sharpest decline since financial crisis

The retail sector is facing the sharpest deterioration in business conditions since February 2009, according to The Confederation of British Industry (CBI). Its Distributive Trade Survey, published on 22 August, reported poor sales compounded by a sixth consecutive quarter of negative investment intentions as employment also fell for the eleventh straight quarter in August.
According to the CBI, while the threat of a no-deal Brexit is a factor, retailers are also feeling the effects of the current business rates system and apprenticeship levy.

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Committee calls out local council funding gap

The Government is facing pressure from the Housing, Communities and Local Government Committee to reverse cuts to council funding and address pressures on local services.
Its report entitled Local government finance and the 2019 spending review and dated 21 August claims councils are at breaking point after a decade of budget reductions and have been forced to focus on ‘safety-net’ services like social care at the expense of ‘non-essential’ services such as transport and housing.

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