Week commencing 31 August 2020

In today's bulletin

• Private sector must pay for cladding remediation
• Pavement parking ban to be assessed

• Government seeking views on marine energy technologies
• Fixed Term Parliament Act must go

Property, Planning and Regeneration

Private sector must pay for cladding remediation

There will be no increase to the £1 billion currently allocated to the building safety fund, set up to help the removal and replacement of unsafe non-ACM cladding systems on high-rise residential buildings, the Government said on 3 September.
In its official response to the Housing, Communities and Local Government Committee’s June report on the progress of remediation, the Government suggested that both the private and social sectors should be contributing financially, and that building owners can lower the burden through warranty schemes or the developers who installed the unsafe cladding.

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Housing minister defends planning system as consultation deadline nears

The Minister of State for Housing, Christopher Pincher has defended the current standard method for assessing local housing need and urged his party colleagues at all levels to help make it better by contributing to the current consultation on planning reforms.
In a blog for ConservativeHome, published on 2 September, Christopher Pincher suggests the Government is committed to reviewing the standard method and finding out whether it can provide more support to councils for building homes that are affordable and predominantly on brownfield sites.

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House price fall likely to bring serious risks for mortgagor families

The post-furlough increase in unemployment and subsequent drop in house prices will potentially have a major impact on families with mortgages, but not to the same extent as the last financial crisis, according to new research published on 2 September by Resolution Foundation.
With fewer young homeowners and risky mortgages than in 2008, the independent think-tank argues the impacts of falling house prices in the UK will likely be less dramatic, although family homeowners in their early thirties can expect to be worst affected.

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House prices at record high in August

The average UK house price reached an all-time high in August – up by 3.7 per cent compared with the same month last year – reflecting the unexpectedly rapid recovery in housing market activity following the easing of lockdown restrictions.
The Nationwide House Price Index for August attributed the highest monthly increase in house prices since February 2004 to pent-up demand and behavioural changes inspired by lockdown. However, this was tempered with a warning that the end of the Government furlough scheme will probably significantly weaken future growth.

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Construction industry’s strong recovery falters

Following a five year high in July, the construction sector’s rate of growth slowed in August with respondents to the IHS Markit / CIPS UK Construction Purchasing Manager’s Index mostly citing a dearth of new business as the reason.
Published on 4 September, the results show that housebuilding has remained the area with the strongest recovery. While commercial work and civil engineering are in a much weaker position, businesses were more optimistic for the year ahead than they have been since the beginning of lockdown, with 43 per cent expecting an increase in activity over the next year.

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Transport

Pavement parking ban to be assessed

A consultation aimed at tackling anti-social pavement parking at a local and national level has been launched by Secretary of State for Transport, Grant Shapps.
Open until 22 November, the consultation invites views on how to remove barriers to active travel, including giving councils more power to fine people who park poorly and introducing a nationwide ban on pavement parking.

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Match a transition to electric vehicles with an expansion of charging infrastructure

Increased investment in public and workplace charging points is vital for addressing the current shortfall of and supporting a smooth transition to electric vehicles in the UK, according to research from the International Council on Clean Transportation.
Quantifying the electric vehicle charging infrastructure gap in the United Kingdom argues that the country’s charging infrastructure must expand by approximately 30 per cent annually to keep pace with its electric vehicle growth goals. The report also calls for stronger vehicle emissions standards and direct electric vehicle regulations to bolster a sustained transition to electric vehicles.

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Energy and Environment

Government seeking views on marine energy technologies

The Government has issued a call for evidence on the potential capacity for marine energy technologies, including offshore wind, wave and tidal, to reduce long-term costs and help meet the UK’s future energy needs.
Launched on 28 August by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy and running until 30 September, the call for evidence follows the recent consultation on the Contracts for Difference Scheme and is intended to inform the upcoming Energy White Paper.

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Oil and gas licensing to be reviewed for Energy White Paper

A review of the UK’s future offshore oil and gas licensing policy, intended to ensure production aligns with efforts to tackle climate change, was announced on 3 September by Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, Alok Sharma.
With its initial findings and recommendations set to be published in the Government’s upcoming Energy White Paper, the review will have to balance the accepted reliance on oil and natural gas energy for heating and the 270,000 people employed by the sector, with the need to lower carbon emissions for the Government to reach its target of being carbon neutral by 2050.

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Making all new buildings net-zero by 2050

The built environment must achieve total decarbonisation, deliver healthy communities and support the regeneration of natural resources in order for countries to meet commitments outlined in the Paris Agreement and the UN’s sustainable development aims.
These three ‘north star’ goals form the crux of the World Green Building Council’s new strategy to speed up the green transformation of global built environments. Published on 1 September, Sustainable Buildings for Everyone, Everywhere sets out key milestones and pathways to meeting these targets and help guide progress.

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Other News

Fixed Term Parliaments Act must go

The 2011 Fixed Term Parliaments Act cannot simply be repealed and must be replaced by a new bill, according to a new report published on 4 September by The House of Lords Select Committee on the Constitution.
Widely condemned by Labour and the Conservatives as a factor in the Autumn 2019 parliamentary general election deadlock, A Question of Confidence? The Fixed-term Parliaments Act 2011 makes clear that repealing the act would lead to the current Parliament having no end date, and that an alternative solution must be put forward as part of the statutory review later this year.

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