Week commencing 23 September 2019

In today's bulletin

• 8.4 million people are victims of housing crisis
• Transport links can add a premium of up to 3.61 per cent to homes

• Labour launches ‘People’s Power Plan’ in green energy push
• Retail sales volumes slump for fifth consecutive month

Property, Planning and Regeneration

8.4 million people are victims of housing crisis

The true scale of the housing crisis has been captured for the first time, according to a National Housing Federation briefing released on 23 September 2019 suggesting that one in seven people in the UK are living in unaffordable, insecure or unsuitable homes.
The report argues that long-term investment in social housing is needed to provide people with suitable and affordable homes and asks for £12.8bn a year for the next decade to build the 340,000 new homes required annually to meet demand. Given that almost 40 per cent of the required number should be affordable, according to the paper, the National Housing Federation states that housing associations will be fundamental to delivering these much-needed homes.

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South East set to become UK’s manufacturing hub

Britain’s less affluent regions are set to be hit especially hard by a no-deal Brexit according to new analysis of official manufacturing data. On 23 September the annual Make UK/BDO Regional Manufacturing Outlook revealed that regions with a high exposure to EU markets and more reliant on manufacturing are at a higher risk of economic downturn as London and the South East emerge as a manufacturing powerhouse.
The growing demand for hi-tech aerospace, electronics products and food and drink is attributed to this boost in the South in recent years, while the North and Midlands have suffered because of the global decline in heavy industry such as steel.

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Calls for national investment to combat rise in empty homes

The number of empty homes in the UK increased by 5.3 per cent in 2018 to 216,000 – the fastest rise since the recession. In response, Action on Empty Homes and Nationwide have called for central government to establish a new £185m fund to bring 15,000 homes back into use.
The investment would enable local authorities, social landlords and community-based organisations to purchase, lease and refurbish the properties while also allowing councils to cut spending on temporary accommodation as more homes become available for those in need.

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Pre-Brexit sales spree boosts property market

Housing demand increased over the summer, in a departure from usual market fluctuations. According to the latest data from NAEA Propertymark, a leading body for professional estate agents, the number of house hunters per estate agent branch increased from 316 in July to 433 in August this year.
This is in contrast to usual buyer habits, which according to the group usually see demand fall over the summer months. NAEA Propertymark chief executive, Mark Hayward, suggested that buyers are returning to the market after a pre-Brexit hiatus as negotiations show no sign of concluding in the near future. Year on year, housing demand has increased by over a third.

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Plans for a radical overhaul of Green Belt land set out by Centre for Cities

Centre for Cities has set out recommendations for the delivery of more than two million homes across the UK on Green Belt land. In its latest report, Homes on the right tracks: Greening the Green Belt to solve the housing crisis, released on 22 September 2019, the charity calls for the development of 47,000 hectares of Green Belt and farmland within walking distance of 1,035 commuter train stations close to major cities.
The plans would deliver up to 2.1 million new homes in a radical redrawing of Green Belt land. The report also calls for the abolition of Section 106 Agreements and the Community Infrastructure Levy to be replaced by a single Land Development Charge.

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Transport links can add a premium of up to 3.61 per cent to homes

The relationship between transport links and property value across the north of England has been revealed in a report published by the University of Leeds, in conjunction with Transport for the North, West Yorkshire Combined Authority and the Engineering and Physical Research Council.
The report, Land Value and Transport Modelling and Appraisal, released on 24 September 2019 found rail access can add 14 per cent to the value of a home. The ability to walk to work also has a significant impact on value – adding a premium of 3.61 per cent for each additional 10,000 jobs within walking distance from the property location.

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RTPI calls for joined-up urban planning to meet future challenges

Complex approaches to planning transport and other infrastructure projects are stifling the UK’s ability to overcome future challenges, according to the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI), which has used its latest report to call for a joined-up approach to planning and infrastructure development.
A Smarter Approach to Infrastructure Planning released on 26 September 2019 reveals that there is a tendency to prioritise short-term project delivery over place-based objectives. The RTPI has called on the government to devolve regional powers such as transport planning and funding for infrastructure and recommended that local authorities establish dedicated teams focused solely on co-ordinating transport, energy and property projects.

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Freight industry warns of clean air zone limitations

The freight industry has warned the government that clean air zones (CAZs) are “not the most effective way” to achieve air quality improvement targets and is instead calling for greater investment in electric vehicles and traffic calming.
On 24 September, industry body the Freight Transport Association (FTA) published a briefing note to support local authorities which have been asked by government to model CAZs, explaining the limitations of these disruptive schemes and advising them on alternative solutions.

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Energy and environment

Inquiry into agriculture achieving net-zero emissions closes

The Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee inquiry into how agriculture can achieve net-zero emissions by 2050, launched earlier this year, officially closes today (30 September).
The Committee is calling for the reduction of emissions from agriculture to be implemented in a way which is considered and sustainable and which maintains food supply and supports farming communities. It also explores how technology could help achieve the net-zero target and what impact land changes would have on rural communities.

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Labour launches ‘People’s Power Plan’ in green energy push

As part of Labour’s ongoing commitment to a ‘Green Industrial Revolution’, the party has unveiled plans to build 37 new offshore wind farms with a 51 per cent publicly owned stake in what has been dubbed the ‘People’s Power Plan’.
As part of this initiative 52GW of offshore wind would be delivered by 2030, equivalent to 38 coal power stations – enough to provide power to 57 million households. This follows the recent announcement that Labour will invest over £2bn towards the construction of three ‘gigafactories’ and invest £3bn in new electric car models and technology.

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Net-zero pathway for social housing outlined in new SEA report

A new report has demonstrated how the social housing sector can lead the way to achieving net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. The findings, released on 26 September by the Sustainable Energy Association (SEA), recommend a suite of changes including retrofitting existing social housing,
introducing higher standards in new-builds and encouraging rapid market growth of low carbon heating systems. The SEA calls on the government to legislate for the changes and for social housing to set the bar for the wider housing sector, which it says accounts for 22 per cent of UK carbon emissions.

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Other News

Retail sales volumes slump for fifth consecutive month

Retail sales volumes in the year to September have fallen for the fifth consecutive month (down 16 per cent) according to the CBI’s latest Distributive Trades Survey. Aside from furniture and carpet sellers, sales contracted across all sectors, with lower sales by clothing retailers and department stores driving the fall in volumes.
Performance was stronger among motor traders, with rebounded sales volume growth of 13 per cent in September compared to a 16 per cent decline in August. While internet sales growth slowed slightly to 33 per cent in September (down from 37 per cent in August), it is expected to improve in October, when growth of 41 per cent is forecast.

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