Week commencing 2 December 2019

In today's bulletin

• Construction output in decline amid political uncertainty
• Sales of social housing decreases

• Heathrow expansion key to zero-carbon innovation
• UK tree cover objectives is a land use policy, says new report

Property, Planning and Regeneration

Construction output in decline amid political uncertainty

Business activity dropped for UK construction companies once again in November due to a lack of new work, according to a report published on 3 December by IHS Markit.
Lower sales volumes have been recorded for the last eight months for the construction sector, reflecting the hesitancy among clients to commit to new projects amid domestic political uncertainty.

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Sales of social housing decrease

Sales of social housing fell 12 per cent from 2017-18 to 2018-19, according to a report from the Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government (MHCLG), published on 5 December.
The average discount of Right to Buy Local Authority dwellings was five percentage points lower – at 42 per cent of market value – than the last peak in 2013-14.

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RICS responds to Conservative party manifesto

RICS has responded to the Conservative party manifesto with a number of recommendations. These include that instead of chasing a numerical target, the incoming government should empower local communities to identify local needs.
RICS also believes a simpler planning system is required and urges the Conservatives to make placemaking a priority.

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Fire chiefs call for widespread use of sprinklers

All residential buildings over 11 metres (four floors) should be required to have sprinklers, the National Fire Chiefs Council (NFCC) has said.
The NFCC called for the current 18 metres threshold to be lowered, and also emphasised there should be more widespread use of sprinklers in buildings of all sizes.
It was responding to the Government’s Approved Document B consultation paper ‘Sprinklers and other fire safety measures in high-rise blocks of flats’.

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BPF launches manifesto for accelerating the planning system

Local Plan reforms, encouraging central government intervention where necessary, and developing away from London and the South are all key recommendations in the British Property Forum (BPF) Accelerated Planning Manifesto 2019.
Released on 4 December as an industry perspective on planning system reform, it proposes that better resourced planning departments and the Ministry for Housing Communities & Local Government (MHCLG) need to take steps to revitalise sustainable development.

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2019 housing market shows stability

The professional body for estate agents has found the UK housing market remained stable in 2019 despite political uncertainty.
Both demand and the average number of sales per branch remained consistent with 2018 figures says NAEA Propertymark, while the number of first-time buyers increased by two percentage points in 2019 to 27 per cent.
Over a ten-year period, it says supply has dropped by around a third while demand has increased by 16 per cent.

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Transport

Heathrow expansion key to zero-carbon innovation

Heathrow expansion is key to the UK hitting its goal of being carbon neutral by 2050, the executive director of the ‘Back Heathrow’ campaign has argued.
Parmjit Dhanda has called upon the UK to lead the way in developing zero-carbon aviation technology, helping to cut down on emissions globally.

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Call for evidence on key transport issues in Wales

National Infrastructure Commission for Wales has published its call for evidence for 2020 on key transport issues in the country. These include improving connectivity between East and West Wales, zero emission transport and transport in rural areas.
Its report also proposes there is less need for major road and rail developments between North and South Wales, and that options for reducing the need to travel at all should be explored.

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Energy and Environment

UK tree cover objectives is a land use policy, says new report

Increasing UK tree cover is a matter of land use policy, a new report by Policy Exchange’s Energy and Environment Unit has argued.
In ‘Bigger, Better Forests’, Senior Adviser Benedict McAleenan explores how policy should and can encourage a diverse and integrated approach to land use policy.
This includes accommodating both amenity and commercial forestry (including agroforestry), often on the same parcels of land.

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Jump in energy storage projects

Battery storage projects have continued to grow in popularity over the past year, while changes to planning regulations are expected to help this trend continue.
The latest statistics from RenewableUK have shown a rise in the cumulative capacity of applications from 6,900 megawatts to over 10,500 MW. That figure has risen from just 2 MW in 2012.

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Cutting carbon is central pledge of the water industry

A net-zero carbon future has been brought a step closer, thanks to a pledge by the UK’s fourth most energy intensive industry to slash its carbon emissions.
The UK water industry has set a goal of achieving net-zero carbon emissions by 2030 as part of the industry’s Public Interest Commitment (PIC) launched in April 2019.
The industry, which produces five million tonnes of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions a year, will see its progress on carbon-cutting and offsetting independently assessed with key milestones publicly reported.

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City leaders ask for Government help to tackle climate change

Council leaders and elected mayors are placing climate action higher on their priority lists but feel they need more central Government support, according to a think tank survey.
The by Centre for Cities found that 69 per cent saw insufficient funding as a barrier to action, while 62 per cent think general support to tackle city-specific issues is unsatisfactory.

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Key to a net-zero carbon society? Better heat and hot water management

A prominent lecturer at the University of Birmingham has called for more attention to be paid to managing peaks in demand for domestic heat and hot water.
Grant Wilson, lecturer in chemical engineering, believes that policymakers, industry and the research community all have a collaborative role to play in flattening domestic utilities.
He says a primary aim should be to demand reduction with more ambitious new build specifications and deep retrofits of insultation on existing buildings.

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Other News

Brexit uncertainty halts manufacturers

The ongoing political uncertainty caused by Brexit has contributed to total orders from British manufacturers grinding to a halt, research suggests.
The Make UK and BDO LLP survey of more than 330 companies also found that a quarter (25.7 per cent) view increasing investment allowances as the main priority for the new government.

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Modest economic growth for next two years, says CBI

GDP growth over the next two years is set to remain gradual, according to the CBI’s latest economic forecast. Its forecast predicts that growth in 2019 will be at 1.3 per cent and 1.2 per cent in 2020, with a brighter outlook in 2021 of 1.8 per cent.
The figures are based on the assumption that the UK exits the EU in January 2020 and can sign an ambitious trade deal aligned with EU rules.

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