Week commencing 24 August 2020

In today's bulletin

• Renters given short-term reprieve from eviction
• High tech audit of road conditions launched

• Offshore transmission review: call for evidence
• Condense local democracy to save £3bn

Property, Planning and Regeneration

Renters given short-term reprieve from eviction

The Covid-19 ban on evictions for residential tenants has been extended until 20 September and landlords will have to give six months’ notice under new legislation introduced by the Government on 28 August. The move follows concern from charities and opposition politicians that the original 24 August deadline and three-month notice period would lead to a homelessness crisis during winter.
The latest extension, which applies from 29 August, has been tempered with further criticism about the lateness of the announcement and the lack of a long-term plan to support renters struggling in the wake of the ongoing pandemic.

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Improve connectivity for Covid-19 recovery

Local councils across the country have been urged by the Government to boost people’s access to 5G mobile coverage and gigabit broadband by speeding up approvals and allowing new infrastructure to be built more quickly.
In a letter sent to councils on 27 August, Minister for Digital Infrastructure, Matt Warman MP and Minister for Regional Growth and Local Government, Simon Clarke MP said digital connectivity was crucial to the UK’s recovery from Covid-19, and set out new guidance about the safety and benefits of 5G for councils to tackle scaremongering.

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Campaigners take legal action over permitted development reforms

A coalition of cross-industry campaigners working to tackle the climate emergency have issued a legal challenge against the Government’s sweeping planning reforms. Rights: Community: Action submitted a judicial review on 26 August arguing that the Government’s plans to extend permitted development rights (PDRs) will lead to the creation of future slums.
The group put forward several alternatives to new PDRs, including building council houses in well-planned communities and funding the existing planning process properly.

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Cost of care leaves over 50s fearing for family homes

Two-thirds of homeowners over the age of 50 worry about how they will cover the cost of care in their old age, with 46 per cent expecting to have to sell their house to be able to do so.
Those are the headline findings of research published on 26 August by Nationwide Building Society. The research also demonstrates regional discrepancies, with 75 per cent of those in the West Midlands concerned about home care costs compared to 60 per cent in London.

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Record breaking July for private rented sector

Demand for homes in the private rented sector reached an all-time high in July, according to figures published on 27 August by the UK’s largest professional body for letting agents.
The ARLA Propertymark Private Rented Sector Report shows demand from tenants was higher than the previous record in January 2020, while supply of rental stock and average tenancy length also reached an all-time high in July.

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Housing market boom showing no signs of slowing

The UK housing market has reached its strongest point since 2015 following a post-lockdown rebound, data from Zoopla has indicated.
Published on 27 August, Zoopla’s latest House Price Index shows that the number of new sales agreed on Zoopla in August was 76 per cent above the five-year average, as lockdown caused a build-up in demand and buyers to re-evaluate what they were looking for in a home.

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Transport

High tech audit of road conditions launched

The Government is using the latest technology to survey road conditions across the UK so it can better target future work and investment as part of an audit launched on 28 August by Transport Secretary Grant Shapps.
The Department for Transport is partnering with local highway authorities, transport businesses such as Uber and Deliveroo, and highway mapping company Gaist, to identify areas most in need of repairs and investment.

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A third of logistics businesses call for furlough to continue

Logistics UK has launched a Covid-19 Performance Tracker to help monitor the industry’s recovery from the pandemic, identify where support is needed and inform discussions with the Government.
Results from August show that almost 11 per cent of businesses within the sector are still reporting severe disruption to freight volumes, with a third calling for an extension of the furlough scheme to 2021.

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Energy and Environment

Offshore transmission review: call for evidence

The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy and energy watchdog Ofgem are calling for anyone with an interest in offshore electricity to help them better coordinate infrastructure and increase benefits for consumers.
Launched on 24 August, the call for evidence will inform a wider review of the offshore network, considering future policy development and how regulatory barriers can be overcome. Views must be submitted by 30 September.

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Renewable energy production increases by 35 per cent

The UK continues to improve its energy habits with figures for the first quarter of 2020 showing a 2.3 per cent decrease in fossil fuel dependency compared with Q1 2019.
The latest data for total energy use, published by the Government on 27 August, shows output from wind, solar and natural flow hydro was 35 per cent higher than Q1 2019, while energy produced from coal fell by more than a quarter.

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Nature-based solutions help tackle climate change and benefit local economies

Reconfiguring public space with nature-led solutions helps tackle climate change while benefitting the local economy, according to a report published by the IGNITION project on 27 August.
Run jointly by the UK Green Building Council and Greater Manchester Combined Authority, the project found more trees and green spaces improve footfall and property values for local enterprise, while also helping to reduce carbon.

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Other News

Condense local democracy to save £3bn

Replacing the two tiers of local government across the country with a single unitary authority for each county could save £3bn over five years, according to analysis revealed by the County Councils Network on 28 August.
The body representing county councils across England argues a single organisation would help to create a unified local government voice, which could benefit the Government’s levelling up agenda and help to achieve devolution.

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