Week commencing 2 March 2020

In today's bulletin

• Inquiry into social and affordable housing re-launched
• Competition aims at age-friendly designs for future homes

• Poor public transport driving poor school performance?
• Nuclear: the misunderstood low-carbon energy

Property, Planning and Regeneration

Inquiry into social and affordable housing re-launched

The Housing, Communities and Local Government Committee has re-launched its inquiry to examine the long-term delivery of social and affordable rented housing. Current estimates put the likely proportion of social homes being built at just three per cent of the government’s ambitious target of 300,000 new homes a year
This comes as the HCLG Committee also launches a new inquiry into progress on removing dangerous cladding from high-rise buildings, the cost of which looks increasingly likely to hit the most vulnerable residents hardest.

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Competition aims at age-friendly designs for future homes

The creative talent of the housing industry is being put to the test by the Housing Minister with the launch of a new competition on 2 March.
Christopher Pincher MP is calling on small businesses, designers and manufacturers to come up with fresh ideas for new low-carbon, age-friendly homes to cater for a growing elderly population

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Government inaction risks ‘another Carillion’

Boris Johnson’s government has not addressed the problems that led to outsourcer Carillion’s collapse in 2018, according to an Institute for Government report. It says it is leaving the door open for another catastrophic liquidation.
In Carillion: Two years on (3 March), the think tank calls for government to employ a Cabinet Office minister to oversee improvements to outsourcing, develop public sector employee training on contracting, and extend the powers of the new Audit, Reporting and Governance Authority.

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Tall buildings: Historic England emphasises value of plan-based approach

Sustainable tall building design that considers context and protects the historic environment forms the basis of Historic England’s revised draft Tall Building Advice Note.
It has updated its draft advice on sustainable planning and design, which is now open for consultation until 26 April 2020 before a final version is published in the summer.

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Poor public transport driving poor school performance?

Researchers at data organisation School Dash say there is a striking correlation between locations in England with poor public transport and secondary schools struggling to attract quality teachers.
Its claim is based on data drawn together from the Department for Transport, Ofsted and the Department for Education. While correlation is not causation, School Dash believes it shows that good teachers are attracted by good schools, which in turn offer good transport links.

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UK CO2 emissions fall despite increased vehicle use

New figures from Carbon Brief show that Britain’s carbon emissions fell by 2.9 per cent in 2019.
Despite the increase in emissions per vehicle as drivers switch to heavier vehicles, emissions have fallen by 29 per cent over the past decade, largely due to a shift in the power sector as coal is phased out.

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UK cities constrained by lack of transport infrastructure

A new report by Research institute Centre for Cities says that some of the UK’s biggest cities are being constrained by their lack of transport capacity.
It says that while some cities such as Newcastle and Sheffield should focus on developing their centres, economic growth in others including London, Birmingham, Manchester and Bristol is being held back by their transport infrastructure, and it is here that new investment should be targeted.

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Energy and Environment

Nuclear: the misunderstood low-carbon energy

Nearly three-quarters of young people are unaware that nuclear power is a low-carbon energy source, according to a survey carried out by the Institute of Mechanical Engineers.
Its report, Public perceptions: nuclear power, finds that nuclear receives half the support expressed for renewable sources, and also highlights the generation gap in awareness of nuclear energy.

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CfD scheme aims to boost renewable energy industry

In an effort to realise the UK’s net-zero carbon target by 2050, the next round of the Contracts for Difference scheme will welcome back renewable technologies including solar and onshore wind.
The proposed amendments to the CfD scheme, revealed on 2 March, aim to boost the nation’s clean energy sources as well as unlock schemes supporting energy storage.

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Government urged to drop energy efficiency restrictions for housebuilding

A group of council leaders and mayors has urged the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government to drop proposals restricting local planning authorities’ ability to cut carbon emissions from housebuilding, in an open letter ‘published on 5 March’.
While more freedom could enable councils to deliver on housing while being sensitive to the climate emergency, metro-mayors in particular are increasingly demanding more powers be devolved to them from central government.

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Other News

Inefficient Whitehall ‘set to waste £10bn’

Ten per cent of the Government’s £100bn Infrastructure budget will be wasted through inefficient project delivery, according to a report published by thinktank The Resolution Foundation (4 March).
It says that committing to ‘level up’ the country’s infrastructure needs to be accompanied by “better planning, evaluation and execution of projects” to avoid a tenth of the investment being squandered.

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