Week commencing 27 July 2020

In today's bulletin

• ‘Time for the Government to invest’ in social housing
• PM commits to thousands of miles of bike lanes

• Immediate action or fail net zero
• Treasury kicks off business rates review

Property, Planning and Regeneration

‘Time for the Government to invest’ in social housing

Social housebuilding should be central to England’s recovery from Covid-19, according to a report from the Housing, Communities and Local Government Committee published on 27 July.
The Building more social housing report calls for at least 90,000 more social rent homes a year and a government investment of £10 billion in extra grant funding to create jobs, boost the economy and reduce homelessness and overcrowding.

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Select committee scrutinises infrastructure investment pledge

Government needs to define what is meant by the “levelling up” agenda and must consult local people before decisions are made to build major infrastructure in their area. Those are the key findings of a report published on 28 July by the Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee following a comprehensive review of the Government’s plan to deliver its promised investment in transport, housing, and other key infrastructure.
The committee also argues that key performance indicators should be set out in advance for each project delivered so that the Government’s success can be judged.

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Consultation on social value in construction

A charity promoting sustainability in the UK building industry has launched a consultation targeted at property and construction professionals to define social value for the built environment sector.
Open for responses from 27 July, the UK Green Building Council aims to use the consultation to establish a common understanding of social value for future projects. The deadline for responses is 21 August.

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Businesses look to the suburbs…and beyond

64 per cent of property experts surveyed by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) are predicting demand for office space will increase in suburban areas and decrease in urban areas over the next two years.
The RICS Q2 UK Commercial Property Market Survey confirmed that tenant demand for retail and office space had been hardest hit by the Covid-19 pandemic, while the industrial sector had seen only a relatively small decline of 13 per cent.

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Transport

PM commits to thousands of miles of bike lanes

A new vision to see half of all journeys in towns and cities made by cycling and walking was launched by the Department for Transport on 28 July, alongside detailed guidance aimed at creating a safe environment that encourages people to leave their cars at home.
In the foreword to Gear change: a bold vision for cycling and walking, the Prime Minister urges the country to maintain and build on the growth in cycling and walking during Covid-19, and commits the Government to supporting this through investment in new cycle lanes, the creation of low traffic neighbourhoods, and setting up a national e-bike programme.

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£19.3 billion cost to decarbonise road freight

Building a new network of overhead electric cables on 7,500km of the UK’s biggest roads and switching HGVs to compatible pantograph electric vehicles is the most cost-effective way for the UK to meet its climate objectives for road freight.
In its new white paper, Decarbonising the UK’s Long-Haul Road Freight at Minimum Economic Cost, the Centre for Sustainable Road Freight claims the investment would tackle 65 per cent of all HGV-kms in the UK and be paid back in 15 years.

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Energy and Environment

Immediate action or fail net zero

Britain will fail to hit its target of net zero by 2050 if it relies on only ‘steady’ progress, National Grid has warned.
In its Future Energy Scenarios report published on 27 July, the energy company argues that, in the one future scenario where net zero is achievable, immediate market incentives are needed alongside commercial-scale hydrogen and carbon capture storage projects.

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Offshore wind so cheap it could pay customers

The cost of offshore wind in the UK is decreasing so quickly that it could soon be subsidy-free, and developers could even be paying subsidies to users by the late 2020s, new research has revealed.
Published on 27 July, the study by Imperial College London looked at subsidy-free offshore wind elsewhere in Europe and record low prices at the most recent UK offshore wind energy auction, concluding that it will soon undercut power stations relying on fossil fuels.

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Other News

Treasury kicks off business rates review

HM Treasury is calling for evidence on the effectiveness of business rates tax, following its commitment to a fundamental review of the system at the 2020 Budget in March.
The consultation asks that views on the multiplier and relief sections of the system are submitted by 18 September to inform the review’s interim report this autumn. Views on all other aspects must be submitted by 31 October.

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