Week commencing 11 May 2020

In today's bulletin

• Government announces planning update for 'new normal’
• Close digital gap to reach most isolated amid Covid-19

• Housing market re-opens in England
• Twelve per cent less CO2 if UK cars go electric

Property, Planning and Regeneration

Government announces planning update for ‘new normal’

Virtual planning committees, a year-long-delay to neighbourhood plan referendums and allowing the deferral of CIL payments are just a few of the ways the planning system has been changed due to the Covid-19 crisis.
However, the Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government is now proposing further amendments to neighbourhood planning and the progression of local plans.

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Housing market re-opens in England

House hunters will now be able to view new properties in person after the relaxation of Covid-19 restrictions were announced by the Housing Secretary on 13 May.
The Rt Hon Robert Jenrick MP detailed a series of measures to kick-start the housing market, including allowing extended working hours on construction sites and enabling local councils and developers to publicise planning applications through social media rather than posters and leaflets.

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Sluggish housing market recovery predicted

UK house prices are likely to take eleven months to recover now that the housing market has begun to reopen, according to an industry study.
The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) UK Residential Market Survey for April 2020 also shows that the majority of contributors believe house prices will see a fall of four per cent or further as the market reopens.

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Build 100,000 affordable homes for heroes

The G15 group of London’s largest housing associations has set out how 100,000 affordable homes for essential workers could be delivered across the public and private sector.
Its outline for delivering the Homes for Heroes scheme includes prioritising essential Covid-19 workers, spreading funding and land across Government and housing association resources, and increasing high-tech manufacturing capacity.

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Biggest decline in construction output

Construction output in the UK fell by almost six per cent in March, the largest monthly decline since records began in 2010.
On 13 May, the Office for National Statistics published Construction output in Great Britain, reporting a drop in both new work and repair and maintenance, both of which it attributes to the Covid-19 pandemic.

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£1.7 billion of road repairs to welcome returning travellers

Repairs to road and rail have been unveiled as part of a funding announcement by the Government on 14 May. Transport Secretary Grant Shapps revealed his £1.7 billion plans to fix roads, fill potholes and repair bridges as he brought forward £175 million of works on the road and rail networks.
Meanwhile, rail operators are being asked to prepare new crowd management and cleaning regimes as the country prepares for more people to get back to work.

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Active travel plans ‘fail to consider the needs of logistics vehicles’

The delivery of goods and services could be compromised by government plans to reallocate road space for cyclists and pedestrians in response to the Covid-19 crisis, according to a logistics industry group.
The Freight Transport Association has asked for clarity on the guidelines, which do not give recommendations on the role of logistics in cities and towns.

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Twelve per cent less CO2 if UK cars go electric

If all 32 million cars and taxis in the UK were to go completely electric in the future, CO2 in the atmosphere could be reduced by 42 million tons – an almost 12 per cent reduction in the nation’s emissions.
Nottingham Trent University, which carried out the research, included in its calculations the required increase in electricity generation by the UK’s power stations.

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Energy and Environment

More work needed on MOD environmental oversight

The Ministry of Defence’s (MOD) oversight of environmental policy has not been functioning well, according to analysis by the National Audit Office.
The findings show that the MOD has made limited progress in improving the energy efficiency of its buildings – although 96 per cent of its infrastructure projects met environmental targets in 2018-2019.

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Building standards updated for environment and wellbeing

New building industry standards focus more on improving an asset’s environmental sustainability, occupant wellbeing, and the circular economy.
The Building Research Establishment published Version 6 of BREEAM In-Use on 12 May, and developers wishing to retain accreditation now have one year to update their practices from Version 5.

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Relentless rise in renewables

The latest government figures confirm that the percentage of the UK’s energy generated by renewables is steadily increasing.
Released on 14 May, data for Q4 2019 shows that renewables accounted for 36.9 per cent of generation.

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Other News

Close digital gap to reach most isolated amid Covid-19

People most isolated by the Covid-19 crisis should be among the first considered in moves to close the ‘digital gap’, according to the APPG on Social Integration.
The Group’s initial Covid-19 Inquiry report, published on 13 May, also suggests the crisis has led to a positive movement of volunteering that the Government should seek to preserve.

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Unspent capital could support $1 trillion of development

Over $220 billion is sitting idle in unlisted infrastructure funds, according to a report by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors.
The professional body says that the investment, when combined with an additional $203 billion already being raised, could support more than $1 trillion worth of infrastructure.

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