Week commencing 1 June 2020

In today's bulletin

• How the planning system has been adapted for a post-Covid-19 world
• Protect and promote local social infrastructure

• Electric vehicle charging accessibility and appropriate network supply are key to clean transport
• UK announces replacement for EU emissions trading system

Property, Planning and Regeneration

How the planning system has been adapted for a post-Covid-19 world

The Local Government Association (LGA) has compiled a summary of the temporary measures and changes to planning guidance and regulations in response to Covid-19 in a briefing document published on 4 June.
The report argues that a local, plan-led system should be central to economic recovery after Covid-19 and stresses the importance of probity in planning and public participation as the delivery of homes and infrastructure comes to the fore once again.

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Protect and promote local social infrastructure

Local infrastructure should be a universal priority across the local government sector, according to a report published by Localis on 3 June. The independent not-for-profit think tank, which promotes neo-localist ideas, argued that this is necessary to ensure that local government plays an active role in fostering networks of community groups.
One way this could be achieved is through introducing low-cost loans as part of ‘co-investment’ in social infrastructure with local community groups. But it is also crucial that funding for community initiatives should be made more readily available by central government.

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Cut stamp duty for post-Covid recovery says think tank

A temporary reduction in stamp duty on house purchases would aid the housing sector’s recovery from the Covid-19 emergency, according to a report from centre-right think tank Policy Exchange published 4 June. Among its authors is Gerard Lyons, economic advisor to Boris Johnson when he was Mayor of London.
The report advocates a pro-growth strategy based on credible fiscal activism, monetary and financial stability and a supply-side agenda. Other than a short-term cut in stamp duty the paper also recommends no austerity measures, reducing social distancing requirements to a metre and an overhaul to the Bank of England’s restrictive remit.

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Planning incentives needed for sustainable development

New incentives are needed in the planning process to improve environmental outcomes for housing and infrastructure development. Research from Savills published on 3 June warns that, among other issues, planners are not taking into account existing public transport links when densifying certain areas.
The report argues that extra care should be taken to deliver homes that are more sustainable in both their build and the lifestyle they encourage. Other recommendations include the need for better integration of homes, jobs and infrastructure across local authority boundaries, as well as measures to enhance travel and media communications to rural locations.

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CLC Roadmap sets out path to construction recovery

The key to post-Covid-19 recovery for the construction industry will lie in a renewed push to deliver better, safer buildings, while modernising and decarbonising the sector. This is the advice of the Construction Leadership Council (CLC), which laid out its Roadmap to Recovery on 1 June.
Central to the strategy is the concept of a green recovery, using the post-coronavirus slowdown to ‘reinvent’ and transform the industry to focus on sustainability and building safety. This would come after periods of ‘restart’ and ‘reset’, during which the CLC suggests reopening sites, strengthening supply chains and investing in training and skills.

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Quarterly fall for UK house prices

House prices in the latest quarter (March to May) were 0.5 per cent lower than the preceding three months, according to Halifax’s latest UK House Price Index published on 5 June. Despite this quarterly decline, the average price for a home in the UK is now £237,808 – 2.6 per cent higher than this time last year.
Looking ahead, the report expects market activity to pick up as lockdown restrictions are eased. Halifax remains optimistic about the underlying health of the housing market.

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Transport

Electric vehicle charging accessibility and appropriate network supply are key to clean transport

Electric vehicle (EV) charging infrastructure and the energy network upgrades needed to accommodate increasing demands for clean vehicles were the main focus of the Net Zero All-Party Parliamentary Group’s latest meeting.
The virtual session on 2 July saw the Department for Transport’s Rachel Maclean MP provide reassurance of the department’s work with the housing ministry to ensure EV access in housing and local areas. Energy industry panellists discussed localised focus on smart solutions and the need for increased investment in renewable energy.

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Hydrogen: driving towards a green future

Hydrogen is the answer to decarbonising the UK’s transport sector and offers a solution where all other technologies have fallen short, according to a new report. The Centre for Policy Studies published Driving Change: How Hydrogen Can Fuel A Transport Revolution on 4 June, setting out the possibilities offered by hydrogen, a relative newcomer to the green fuel market.
The document highlights hydrogen’s potential as a viable alternative to batteries and electrification, which are not capable of catering to the huge quantity of energy required for logistics and shipping.

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Energy and Environment

UK announces replacement for EU emissions trading system

A UK-wide emissions trading system (ETS) will replace its EU equivalent and reduce the existing emissions cap by five per cent, as outlined in a government press release on Monday 1 June. The ETS works by setting a cap on the total amount of greenhouse gases emitted from certain sectors, which is reduced over time so that total emissions fall.
Though the new system is structured similarly to its EU counterpart, the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy claims it is more ambitious in helping the UK meet its 2050 net-zero target.

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Hundreds of businesses call on UK Government to rebuild better

Over 200 businesses have called for the Government to pursue an economic recovery plan in response to Covid-19 that rebuilds the economy in a way that is more inclusive, and that addresses environmental, social and economic injustices.
Signed by national and multi-national businesses from across a broad variety of sectors including energy, construction, consumer, finance, and services, the letter to the Prime Minister on 1 June requests “a clean, just recovery, that creates quality employment and builds a more sustainable, inclusive and resilient UK economy for the future” backed by industry commitment.

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UK Green Building Council helps co-ordinate home retrofit approach

The UK Green Building Council (UKGBC) has announced the co-ordination of city and combined authorities in improving the energy efficiency of homes across the country, as part of its wider Accelerator Cities project. Officially launched on 3 June, this project will encourage local authorities to develop their own home retrofit programmes, as well as the sharing of resources and expertise.
Among the institutions involved are Birmingham City Council, the Greater London Authority, the Energy Saving Trust and the Green Alliance with the scheme looking to support the Government’s pledge for the UK to be a net-zero carbon economy by 2050.

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