Week commencing 6 April 2020

In today's bulletin

• New neighbourhood planning guidance for Covid-19
• Doubts over surge in road traffic claims

• Government seeks views on heat network regulation
• Starmer pledges ‘new era’ for Labour

Property, Planning and Regeneration

New neighbourhood planning guidance for Covid-19

Official guidance on neighbourhood planning was updated on 7 April to accommodate restrictions in place for the coronavirus crisis.
Guidelines include postponing all neighbourhood planning referendums scheduled to take place between 15 March 2020 and 5 May 2021, and reassessing public consultation to consider the current guidance on social distancing.

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Clarity from Government for construction workers

New government guidance on construction and repairs during the coronavirus pandemic states that work can continue on construction sites, as long as workers adhere to strict social distancing rules.
The guidance published on 7 April explains that, where social distancing is not possible, individuals and companies should consider whether the work must happen and take all actions possible to reduce the risk of transmission.

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220,000 new homes halted

As of 31 March, construction had been halted on sites with the capacity for 220,000 homes across England, Scotland and Wales.
In contrast, research from Savills published on 8 April shows that Covid-19 has had relatively little impact on the supply of land coming through the planning system.

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Housing market falters

The recent prosperity of the housing market will come to an end due to Covid-19 repercussions, according to a leading industry figure.
Despite the momentum seen in March, Halifax Managing Director Russell Galley said on 7 April that “activity will inevitably fall sharply in the coming months”.

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Government action needed to save housing market

A run of three successive monthly housing market demand increases came to an abrupt halt in March due to Covid-19.
On publishing its monthly Residential Market Survey on 9 April, the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors called for the introduction of a stamp duty holiday to assist a post-pandemic housing market.

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2021: the year of recovery

The current strain on the housing market will not have a negative long-term impact on the sector, with growth predicted for 2021, according to a 7 April report from a leading real estate consultancy.
However, Knight Frank argues that the Government will need to supplement the existing economic stimulus package with incentives such as stamp duty reform if the market is to witness a full recovery.

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Transport

Doubts over surge in road traffic claims

Despite an official Government briefing of a rebellion against coronavirus driving restrictions, data collected by Highways England shows that the level of traffic on motorways steadily declined throughout March.
Published on 7 April and assessed by transport and mobility think tank, TRL, the data shows a broadly consistent trend across the nation’s main motorways.

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Swipe right for logistics?

Business group FTA has launched an online member-to-member platform to provide businesses with the ability to link up logistics supply and demand across the sector.
The platform, which launched on 7 April and is open to FTA members, matches those in need of logistics staff or fleet resources with available workers or vehicle capacity.

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Energy and Environment

Government seeks views on heat network regulation

The Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy has opened a consultation on policy options for regulating heat networks.
Running until 1 June, its aim is to gather sector views on how to support market growth for heat networks to help achieve net-zero carbon by 2050, while also protecting consumers.

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Energy companies to prioritise emergency works

Ofgem has sent information to energy networks and suppliers to help companies streamline while still providing a reliable service.
In a letter issued on 8 April, the industry regulator defined high priority activities as those “necessary for short to medium term security of supply, and/or for the protection and safety of consumers and utility workers”.

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UK lags on renewables in 2019

The UK’s renewable energy supply increased by 6.1 per cent from 2018 to 2019, falling behind the European average growth rate.
Within the UK, wind power saw the highest capacity increase of all the renewables at 10.8 per cent. Globally, renewables accounted for 72 per cent of all power expansion.

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Other News

Starmer pledges ‘new era’ for Labour

Sir Keir Starmer has appointed his new frontbench team after winning the Labour leadership election on 4 April.
Angela Rayner was elected deputy leader with the new shadow cabinet including figures drawn from across the party’s different wings.

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