Week commencing 17th February 2020

In today's bulletin

• Ring a ring o’ Rosewell
• One million backlog in housebuilding

• Energy Minister announces £90 million investment to reduce carbon emissions

• Positive outlook for retail sector

Property, Planning and Regeneration

Ring a ring o’ Rosewell

One year since the publication of the Rosewell Review, the Planning Inspectorate has so far implemented 16 of the 22 original recommendations to speed up the appeal process, with the remaining six currently in progress. Those successfully introduced include instituting earlier inspector engagement, overhauling statements of common ground, and reforming the statement of case.
Bridget Rosewell CBE, together with the Planning Inspectorate at the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government, hosted an event on Wednesday 12 February to mark the review’s anniversary. Delegates offered views on their experiences with cases handled in the Rosewell way, identifying both progress made and scope for improvement.

Read More

One million backlog in housebuilding

Over 2.5 million homes have been granted planning permission by councils since 2009 / 10 but only 1.5 million have been built, a report from the Local Government Association (LGA) has shown.
The LGA has used this figure to bolster its assertion that the planning system is not a barrier to housebuilding. The association has called on the Government to use its forthcoming white paper to address the backlog of unbuilt homes by giving councils the power to take action on unused land that has planning permission.

Read More

Public land failing to deliver affordable housing

Only 2.6 per cent of homes built on land sold under the Government’s disposal scheme were for social rent, an investigation by the New Economics Foundation has found. It also revealed that only 15 per cent of homes built were classified as affordable housing of any type, including those occupied through shared ownership.
The disposal scheme has been in operation for almost a decade, with one of its core aims being to alleviate the housing crisis. In response to the scheme’s shortcomings, the NEF has called for all sold-off public land to be ring-fenced for the provision of social housing.

Read More

RICS calls for pragmatic and sustainable solutions to housing crisis

The Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors’ (RICS) budget wish-list puts people’s right to a home front-and-centre and calls for a focus on building sustainably by greening construction activity.
RICS argues for a presumption in favour of modern methods of construction (MMC) to support the delivery of social housing and for struggling local economies to benefit from investment in MMC factories. It also highlights the need for government support in delivering the pipeline of skills required to meet the UK’s building targets.

Read More

Student accommodation market remains buoyant

A two per cent increase in the number of higher education students has kept the UK student accommodation market buoyant, according to an annual survey by the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA).
The survey revealed a shift in the make-up of the student accommodation market from small-scale private landlords to university halls of residence and large-scale private sector providers as the demand for places grows. It also showed a clear correlation between the quality and location of accommodation and the ability of universities to attract potential students.

Read More

No reduction in business rates

Local authorities continue to resist calls for a reduction in business rates despite predictions that the total non-domestic rating income for 2020-21 will be £649 million higher than the current financial year.
Business bosses argue non-domestic rates are destroying the high street, while local authorities claim they provide vital funding for local infrastructure. Local authorities reported they will grant a total of £5.1 billion of relief from business rates for 2020-21, three billion of which is mandatory relief for charities, sports clubs and empty properties.

Read More

UK house prices rise year-on-year

House prices rose by an average of 0.6 per cent in December 2019, according to the latest UK Housing Price Index (HPI).
The figures show a year-on-year rise of 2.2 per cent, which makes the average UK property worth £251,711. House price growth was strongest in Northern Ireland, where prices increased 2.5 per cent over the year.

Read More

Transport

Looking ahead to a “golden age for rail”

The Government must prioritise an ambitious programme of rail electrification if it wants to deliver its aim of decarbonising UK rail by 2040. The urgent call comes from the heads of various transport bodies in an open letter to the Secretary of State for Transport, the Rt Hon Grant Schapps MP.
This was an issue also raised by Darren Caplan, chief executive of the Railway Industry Association (RIA), in its submission to government ahead of the budget. Caplan urged the Chancellor of the Exchequer, the Rt Hon Rishi Sunak MP, to “work with the railway industry” to overcome major barriers in creating a “golden age for rail”.

Read More

British drivers becoming more dependent on their cars

British motorists are increasingly dependent on their cars despite Government efforts to improve public transport, the Royal Automobile Club’s 2019 Report on Motoring has found. Published on 21 February, the report shows 35 per cent of motorists – the highest proportion in five years – said they have become more dependent on their cars in the past year.
Lack of frequent public transport services and high fare prices are cited as significant causes. A majority of drivers (57 per cent) say they would be willing to use their cars less if public transport was improved.

Read More

Energy and Environment

Energy Minister announces £90 million investment to reduce carbon emissions

Kwasi Kwarteng MP, Minister for Business, Energy and Clean Growth announced on 18 February that households and business will benefit from a £90 million investment fund to reduce carbon emissions. It follows the Government’s recent announcement of a net zero emissions target for 2050.
Heavy industry will receive £70 million, including funding for two large-scale low-carbon hydrogen plants, the first of their kind in Europe. The fund will also support projects to trial cutting-edge technologies for switching from fossil fuels to renewables and ‘smart energy projects’ designed to cut household emissions.

Read More

Mayor’s report finds NO2 levels down

Levels of nitrogen dioxide in the capital’s air have been reduced by 21 per cent on average over the past four years, according to a report from the Mayor of London. Published on 20 February, Air pollution monitoring data in London: 2016 to 2020 found instances when levels of nitrogen dioxide exceeded the legal limit have been reduced by 97 per cent across London since 2016.
The report attributes these improvements to clean air initiatives, such as the central London Ultra Low Emission Zone and the twelve Low Emission Bus Zones. However, the study also found there is still work to be done to reduce levels of particulate matter in the air, with 80 per cent of monitoring sites recording levels above the World Health Organisation’s recommended levels.

Read More

Other News

Positive outlook for retail sector

Investment in commercial real estate rose in the last month of 2019 as the market benefited from increased political certainty in the post-election period, research from Savills has revealed.
According to its latest Market in Minutes report, published on 19 February, the West End of London office market saw the most investment, while positive Christmas trading boosted the retail sector. However, the research did reveal activity in January 2020 was not as strong as during the same period last year, signifying the latest increase may have been more of a Boris ‘blip’ than a ‘bounce’.

Read More