Week commencing 11 November 2019

In today's bulletin

• Housing has major role to play in general election
• Architects demand urgent action on housing and building safety

• Green Alliance report calls for more substantial government targets for green transport
• RenewableUK calls on all parties for a new, clear government strategy

Property, Planning and Regeneration

Housing has major role to play in general election

Housing will be one of the significant policy areas debated in the run up to the general election in December according to a new report which outlines three reasons it will be a key issue for the incoming government, no matter who is in Number 10.
According to the Resolution Foundation’s report Inequality Street: Housing and the 2019 general election, low homeownership, high housing costs and cuts to housing benefit mean that residential property will be a key battleground for voters. Political parties are due to publish their manifestos, including housing policies, in the next two weeks ahead of the election on 12 December.

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Architects demand urgent action on housing and building safety

Urgent investment, leadership and regulation are required to solve the housing crisis and ensure buildings are safe, according to the Royal Institute of British Architects’ manifesto ahead of the general election.
The group has called on the incoming government to commit to bringing together the necessary expertise and regulation in the residential property sector to ensure the built environment is safer and more sustainable. It called for a shake-up of current policies arguing that more of the same will not be enough to reverse current problems with housing shortages and fire safety.

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Construction output increasing but growth slowed in third quarter

Construction output increased by 0.6 percent in the three months to September 2019, a slower rate than the previous quarter, according to the latest figures from the Office for National Statistics.
Published on 11 November, the data shows construction output increased by £253 million in the third quarter compared with the previous three months. The largest increase in new work was private new housing which increased by £156 million, although this was offset by a fall of £150 million in private housing repair and maintenance.

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Growth opportunities to strengthen in global modular and prefab market

Revenues for the global modular and prefab buildings market will increase to $215 billion by 2025, driven by an increase in construction activities, labour costs and time savings in offsite construction.
A report by market research consultants, Frost & Sullivan, released on 13 November suggests that the market will expand at a strong compound annual growth rate of 6.35 percent from 2018 to 2025. Prospects and revenues in Western Europe and North America in particular will be boosted by the adoption of more environmentally sustainable and regulatory-compliant construction practices.

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MHCLG reports housing supply at highest level for 30 years

Official figures show that housing supply grew by nine percent from 2018 to 2019, the biggest net additions figure since data was first collected in 1991 / 1992. The data, published by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government on 14 November, describes this as the first return to pre-2007 / 2008 levels of housing growth before the financial crash.
The highest growth in housing stock was shown to be in and around local authorities in the London commuter belt and stretching into East Anglia, while the lowest was in the north west of England.

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Greater divergence than usual expected between northern and southern property markets

Savills’ annual residential forecasts have revealed that southern England’s property prices are expected to slow because of greater exposure to Brexit uncertainty and rises in interest rates.
Meanwhile northern England’s property market is expected to grow, conforming to previous cycles, which Savills attributes to a greater capacity for mortgage lenders and household finances to support property acquisitions than in the rest of the UK.

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UK house prices fall from August but remain higher than this time last year

The September data for the UK House Price Index (HPI) shows that, on average, house prices have fallen by 0.2 percent since August 2019. There has been a year-on-year rise of 1.3 percent, which makes the average UK property worth £234,370.
In England, house prices have fallen by 0.1 percent since August, while in Wales they are down 2.8 percent. UK house prices grew by 1.3 percent in the year to September 2019, with the strongest growth recorded in Northern Ireland.

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Tis’ the season for uncertainty: Brexit and the general election trigger a freeze in the housing market

Data from the October 2019 RICS UK Residential Market Survey shows a continually subdued sales market for housing with negative results in areas including new buyer enquiries, agreed sales and new instructions.
However, short term expectations for sales over the next three months have improved with a stable trend expected post-election. Around the UK, new buyer enquiries dropped for the second month in a row with a net balance of 16 percent of respondents citing a decline.

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London councils’ planning processes must incorporate affordable housing, says TCPA

Many London councils are failing to consider affordable and social housing properly in their planning processes, a new report by the Town and Country Planning Association (TCPA) claims. Published on 13 November, the report entitled London – Planning for a Just City?, found that only 29 percent of councils have a specific social rent target, and 60 percent do not require “tenure-blind” housing, creating a build quality divide between market sale and affordable homes in the same development.
The TCPA called for more ambitious Local Plan processes to ensure homes for people of all income levels are provided.

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Green Alliance report calls for more substantial government targets for green transport

The Green Alliance published its report on Smarter Transport in the UK on 13 November. The report proposes that to turn the UK into a world leader in green transport and mobility, the government must firstly accelerate the uptake of electric vehicles, including supporting the manufacture of vehicles and components in the UK, by targeting 100 percent of new vehicle sales being electric by 2030.
The report also argues that the government should position the UK at the forefront of new mobility services such as public transport and walking and cycling infrastructure, justifying this on climate grounds as well as claiming it could unlock greater growth for UK cities.

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Integrated approach can address the climate crisis and make cities more liveable

There needs to be a move away from transport projects which isolate issues around sustainability and carbon emissions in order to address the climate crisis, according to a new report from the Urban Transport Group.
Published on 13 November, the report uses practical examples to show that projects which make strong connections between transport and the environment have the potential to reduce carbon emissions and improve climate resilience. It goes on to say that this approach can also contribute towards lowering energy costs, creating jobs, improving air quality and making cities more attractive.

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Energy and Environment

RenewableUK calls on all parties for a new, clear government strategy

Clean energy campaign group RenewableUK has called on politicians to put an increased emphasis on meeting the government’s environmental targets in the run up to the general election. Its manifesto, The Tipping Point: Clean Power at Net Zero Scale, envisages rapid decarbonisation in the next decade, driven by increased ambition for large-scale wind and innovative renewable technologies.
A new regulatory approach aligned to net-zero carbon is deemed necessary. For this to be achieved, the report suggests that all political parties need to support the expansion of offshore wind, and co-ordination is needed to address issues such as resourcing.

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Planting the right kind of hedge could be answer to noisy neighbours or pollution

Problems with noisy neighbours, flooding or air pollution could be solved by planting more suitable hedges, the Royal Horticultural Society has said. The advice forms part of the charity’s Greening Great Britain campaign which urges the public to turn concrete urban features into thriving green spaces.
The RHS claims that in a rapidly urbanising society, hedgerows could be pivotal in maintaining cities as liveable areas.

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UK’s future environmental pledges set to be broken

Many of the UK’s pledges and environmental targets will be missed, including legally binding pledges, according to analysis from Unearthed and the Financial Times. One of the most notable failures will be air pollution, with the government set to miss its commitments for total emissions of ammonia and PM2.5, the most damaging pollutant to human health.
This analysis comes after Boris Johnson abandoned commitments to meet EU environmental standards in his ultimately postponed Brexit deal.

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