Week commencing 27 April 2020

In today's bulletin

• Still time to submit cladding evidence
• Future of Transport consultation extended

• UK on track to run out of water by 2040
• £1.6bn boost for council funding

Property, Planning and Regeneration

Still time to submit cladding evidence

Parliament’s Housing, Communities and Local Government Committee has extended the deadline for submitting evidence to its inquiry on cladding remediation to Monday 18 May, giving high-rise residents more time to respond amid Covid-19 disruption.
Evidence submitted to the inquiry will help inform the select committee’s report in to the progress of removing potentially dangerous cladding from buildings, and whether the Government is doing enough to help.

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Mayoral taskforce aims to protect London housing

A new taskforce established to combat the effects of Covid-19 on London’s housing sector met for the first time on 28 April.
The Covid-19 Housing Delivery Taskforce, chaired by the GLA’s Deputy Mayor for Housing and Residential Development, Tom Copley, will meet every fortnight to discuss short, medium and long-term options for the recovery.

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Call for extension of Right to Buy spending window

Councils in England have argued that new social homes could go unbuilt if the Government refuses to extend the timeframe for councils to spend Right to Buy sales profits.
The Local Government Association (LGA) warned on 28 April that councils will need at least five years to spend the money instead of three, due to the Covid-19 crisis causing changes and delays to construction plans.

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Reform of commercial use classes needed

Weakening market sentiment in the UK commercial property sector highlights the need to re-examine commercial use classes to support flexibility, according to a new report.
Published on 30 April, the market update for Q1 2020 from the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors calls for reforms to meet the needs of the economy.

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Communities silenced by Covid-19

Covid-19-related changes to the planning system are making it harder for the public to have its say, pressure groups have warned. A joint statement on 27 April recommended speaking rights for objectors in virtual meetings and delaying public votes on area regeneration would help maintain public input in planning matters.
The groups also called for delegated decisions to be banned for applications that would normally be decided at committee.

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E-commerce boom leads to knock-on logistics space demand

High online retail demand combined with supply chain delays and store closures has led to a ten per cent increase in demand for industrial and logistics space in Q1 2020 relative to Q1 2019.
The analysis, released on 29 April by commercial real estate services organisation Colliers International, warns that the increased demand comes alongside a decline in speculative space under construction.

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Transport

Future of Transport consultation extended

The Department for Transport has extended the deadline for submitting evidence to its ‘Future of Transport’ regulatory review to 3 July, giving more time for transport providers, local authorities and innovators to help shape travel patterns across the country.
Announced in March 2019 as part of the ‘Future of Mobility: Urban Strategy’, the consultation asks for evidence on micromobility vehicles, flexible bus services and shifting transport away from personal ownership of vehicles.

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Roads hold firm despite winter floods

The standard of UK roads is improving despite an increase in pothole-related breakdowns, according to the latest figures from the RAC. Published on 1 May, the motoring organisation’s latest Pothole Index shows breakdowns on UK roads caused by road defects were up 4.5 per cent in Q1 2020 compared with the same period in 2019.
Serious floods affected roads across the country this winter, but the index still showed road defects were less likely to cause a breakdown now than the year before.

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Energy and Environment

UK on track to run out of water by 2040

Climate change impact forecasts suggest the south of England will run out of water within the next 20 years unless serious action is taken.
The head of Parliament’s Environmental Audit Committee warned of worsening challenges in a 28 April letter to the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs.

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Biggest drop in electricity consumption in 90 years

Energy consumption has dropped across the globe because of coronavirus and triggered an eight per cent decline in carbon emissions.
The International Energy Agency revealed on 30 April that Covid-19 has led to the biggest shock to global energy markets since the Second World War, while daily electricity consumption in the UK has fallen by at least 15 per cent.

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Other News

£1.6bn boost for council funding

Additional Covid-19 crisis funding for English councils worth £1.6 billion has been announced by Local Government Secretary Robert Jenrick.
The funding will be split 65:35 between county and district councils and will be distributed based on factors including population size and an assessment of how severely impacted areas have been by the virus.

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