Week commencing 24 February 2020

In today's bulletin

• Developers required to belong to the New Homes Ombudsman

• Government proposes national shared ownership model

• NIC calls for the Government to end “dither and delay on Crossrail 2 and the CaMKOx arc”
• Are we becoming greener as a nation?

Property, Planning and Regeneration

Developers required to belong to the New Homes Ombudsman

Last week, the government announced that any organisation that builds new homes must belong to the New Homes Ombudsman (NHO). The NHO will have statutory powers to award compensation, ban rogue developers from building and order ‘shoddy’ work to be corrected.
With this, it was announced that developers wishing to use the Government’s upcoming Help to Buy scheme must adhere to a range of new quality measures, including energy efficiency requirements. These announcements come in the same week as the Government published the results of its six-month consultation on the NHO, which suggested the body should be privately run.

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Government proposes national shared ownership model

The Government’s new proposals for a national shared ownership model have been outlined by the House of Commons Library, the independent research and information unit that supports all parties and their staff. The proposals will allow shared owners to increase their stake in a property by smaller increments and will remove the ‘pre-emption’ clause, which gives the housing provider the exclusive right to market the property for the first eight weeks of the sale.
The scheme has been criticised by industry experts for having hidden costs and a negative effect on the price of new-build flats. The new proposals have been branded as “meaningless” by Shadow Secretary of State for Housing Sarah Jones MP for lacking investment.

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Design housing for flooding says chief executive of the Environment Agency

New homes must be designed to be more resilient to flooding, Sir James Bevan, chief executive of the Environment Agency, has said. He added that this may mean relocating communities that are the most vulnerable to floods.
The Environment Agency predicts at least £1 billion a year for the next 50 years is needed to build and maintain traditional defences and further investment is required for resilient infrastructure. However, he also said that at least some of this can be provided by local community groups, individual householders and the private sector.

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CMA report sheds light into serious issues in leasehold selling

Residential tenants across the country are being treated unfairly and having their rights breached, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) confirmed on 28 February.
The CMA’s investigation into the leasehold housing market is ongoing, but an interim report has raised serious concerns with ground rents; mis-selling of homes, fees and service charges; and ineffective mechanisms to protect leaseholders. The CMA confirmed it is preparing to take enforcement action against those found to have breached consumer protection laws. It is working with government to identify appropriate reforms that give leaseholders greater protection.

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Circular economy: an alternative approach to sustainability in the built environment

Circular economy: an alternative approach to sustainability in the built environment
The World Green Building Council has estimated that 39 per cent of global carbon emissions are generated by the building and construction sectors. It argues that proposals around a circular economy, where economic growth and resource consumption are uncoupled, present an alternative approach to sustainability in the sector.
Linked to this, a report from Arup and the Ellen Macarthur Foundation finds that circular economy practices can be built into existing real estate frameworks. The report suggests five business models to help support this: flexible spaces, adaptable assets, relocatable buildings, residual value and performance procurement.

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House price growth in the UK slows again

The latest UK House Price Index, published 24 February, has revealed that annual house price growth continued to slow through 2019. In all countries of the UK, growth was down – the weakest since 2013 and the first time it has declined in all four sections of the UK since 2015.
House price growth fell the most in London boroughs and the South East over the period 2018-19 with it declining the most in Kensington and Chelsea at -7.7 per cent. House prices did grow in some areas though, notably North Devon and parts of south Wales.

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NIC calls for the Government to end “dither and delay on Crossrail 2 and the CaMKOx arc”

The UK cannot afford to wait another 50 years for major infrastructure projects to come forward, and the Government should set out a clear long-term plan with funding commitments, the National Infrastructure Commission (NIC) said in its Annual Monitoring Report 2020 which was released last Wednesday.
It argues that the long timeframe between concept and delivery of projects, such as Crossrail and HS2, has been unacceptable. The report specifically calls on the Government to confirm that it plans to go ahead with Crossrail 2; to agree a route for the Oxford-Cambridge Expressway; and to develop a spatial vision for the Cambridge-Milton Keynes-Oxford arc.

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Supporting the logistics and transport sector requires a joined-up approach from the Government

The British Property Foundation’s Delivering the Goods Report 2020 has called for government policy to reflect the central role of logistics and transport in achieving the aims of the National Infrastructure Strategy.
The report updates its original recommendations from 2015, calling for greater coordination in infrastructure planning to assist transport connectivity. It also reveals that logistics retains a driving influence in economic and employment growth in the UK, with services related to land transport growing by 76 per cent since 2014, and logistics productivity forecast to increase by 43 per cent by 2039 – 40 per cent above the UK average.

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Energy and Environment

Are we becoming greener as a nation?

Provisional data issued by the Government shows renewable energy generation grew by almost five per cent in 2019, while fossil fuels experienced decline. The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) figures show that overall energy production fell for the first time in five years in 2019, slipping by 0.6 per cent.
Energy consumption also decreased by 2 per cent through 2019, largely due to shifting patterns in electricity generation as renewable sources displaced fossil fuels according to government analysis. Renewable energy production rose by 4.9 per cent through the course of the year, while coal production fell by 14 per cent.

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Other News

Will the Conservatives wave goodbye to austerity and low taxes?

The Conservative’s new spending plans are likely to create tension between high spending, low taxes and fiscal credibility as the party moves from austerity to a programme of big spending, according to The trillion-pound question, a report by the Resolution Foundation published last week.
Ahead of the 11 March Budget, the report claims the most striking announcement will be more detail on the Government’s commitment of “up to a £100 billion increase in capital spending over the next five years”. The report suggests tax reform and tax increases provide a sustainable answer to balancing day-to-day spending – potentially challenging the Conservative’s reputation as a low-tax party.

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