Week commencing 20 July 2020

In today's bulletin

• “Add two floors to your house,” says government
• Highways England on track after five-year review

• A sustainable industrial strategy?
• Policy priorities for government announced as spending review is launched

Property, Planning and Regeneration

“Add two floors to your house,” says government

Homeowners will be able to extend their properties by two floors without full planning permission under new rules announced by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG).
Announced on 21 July, the changes will be allowed under permitted development rights, but have been questioned by some in the built environment sector.

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New legislation and consultation looks to respond to Grenfell

Improving fire safety in high rise buildings to prevent a repeat of the Grenfell tragedy is the aim of draft legislation launched via a consultation last week.
The new rules seek to implement recommendations from a report into the disaster, which took place three years ago. The consultation will run until 12 October.

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MPs to investigate impact of Covid-19 on high streets

A new inquiry has been launched to assess how high streets can recover from the fallout from Covid-19.
The Housing, Communities and Local Government Committee will examine how the response to the pandemic has placed further economic and social burdens on shops and businesses. The inquiry is accepting evidence until 15 September.

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Updated design toolkit for healthier lifestyles

Improving walking, cycling and transport links, as well as creating integrated neighbourhoods based on specific local needs are among the guidelines for developers in a new document published on 23 July.
The Building for a Better Life toolkit, commissioned by NHS England and backed by Homes England, includes a 12-point structure to help local authorities update their local plans.

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Online consultation permitted for major infrastructure projects

Online inspection of documents for consultation and publicity will be allowed under new guidance for Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects.
The changes were prompted by Covid-19 restrictions and were introduced by MHCLG on 22 July.

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Transport

Highways England on track after five-year review

Highways England has achieved most of its commitments made over the past five years, according to an assessment published on 21 July by the Office of Rail and Road.
However, the report noted improvements can be made to further involve the public in planning and decision making, and that the agency should aim to improve efficiency over the next five years.

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“Follow California’s lead on zero-emission vehicles” – think tank

The UK should follow the lead of California by introducing a zero-emission vehicle (ZEV) mandate if it is serious about ending the sale of polluting vehicles by 2035.
That’s the view of researchers at Policy Exchange, who argue that the best approach is to force manufacturers to increase the production of ZEVs as a proportion of their output.

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DfT calling for better phone coverage on trains

Mobile phone coverage on trains could be improved by making better use of trackside infrastructure, according to a new report commissioned by the Government.
Using overhead line infrastructure to house cells and antennae are among the recommendations to the Department for Transport, which claims the changes could also boost 5G coverage.

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Energy and Environment

A sustainable industrial strategy?

MPs on the Business Committee will review whether the UK’s Industrial Strategy is fit for purpose and in line with the Government’s guidance on sustainability in light of Covid-19.
The inquiry will look at the constraints placed on the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy by the pandemic.

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£350 million to cut emissions

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has announced a new £350 million funding pot to cut emissions and drive a green economic recovery.
Announced on 22 July, the money will be targeted at heavy industry, transport, construction and the space sectors as the UK moves towards its 2050 net zero target.

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Heating the home: the biggest decarbonisation challenge

Increasing efficiency, investing in green skills and tightening regulations are among the recommendations of a new report looking at the future of heating.
The Confederation of British Industry and University of Birmingham are backing the new Heat Commission, which issued its recommendations on 22 July.

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Other News

Government policy priorities announced as spending review is launched

Rishi Sunak says he will prioritise six areas of policy in the upcoming autumn Comprehensive Spending Review.
In a statement on 21 July, the Chancellor of the Exchequer named Covid-19 recovery, public services and science among the key areas to address.

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