Week commencing 5 October 2020

In today's bulletin

• Inquiry launched into delivering low-carbon heating
• First Freeports on track for opening in a year

• A green levelling-up agenda
• September sees rapid increase in construction activity

Property, Planning and Regeneration

Inquiry launched into delivering low-carbon heating

A call for evidence has been launched by the House of Commons Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee as part of an inquiry into decarbonising heat in residential buildings.
Closing on 13 November, the committee is seeking evidence to support its examination of the Government’s upcoming Buildings and Heat Strategy; it will consider technological barriers to achieving low-carbon heating and how solutions could be delivered in the UK.

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Proposed planning reforms put affordable housing at risk

The Government’s proposed planning reforms would have resulted in almost 30,000 fewer affordable homes being built in the past five years and would further undermine the supply of these desperately needed homes, according to the Local Government Association (LGA).
Commenting on analysis by Glenigan published on 7 October, the LGA argued that the Government proposal not to require affordable housing on small sites was a “huge concern” and called for local authorities to be able to decide their own affordable housing thresholds.

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New guidance for cities developing local infrastructure

A new toolkit to share advice on developing local infrastructure strategies in cities has been published by the National Infrastructure Commission, in partnership with local authorities.
Launched on 7 October at a virtual event co-hosted by Centre for Cities, the report focuses on core infrastructure areas like housing and transport, as well as how environment, health and wellbeing policies can contribute to a region’s success.

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Ensure all new buildings are energy efficient, says RIBA

A new report has urged the Government, councils and construction sector to extend standard practice to include Post-Occupancy Evaluation (POE) as part of efforts to ensure all new buildings meet desired energy-efficiency ratings.
Authored by the Royal Institute for British Architects (RIBA) and published on 7 October, Post Occupancy Evaluation: an essential tool to improve the built environment highlights how embedding POE in all projects can make buildings greener while reducing operational costs and increasing occupier satisfaction.

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Increasing pessimism about housing market’s long-term health

Concern over widespread job losses and the forthcoming ending of the Stamp Duty cuts have led to a negative outlook for twelve-month sales expectations in the RICS September UK Residential Market Survey.
Respondents were twice as likely to be pessimistic about future prospects than in August’s survey, though the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors also reports a fourth consecutive monthly increase in new buyer enquiries and a rise in sales over the month.

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UK manufacturing to need additional 15.5 million sq ft of warehousing

There could be almost 16 million square feet of extra warehouse demand from the manufacturing sector by the end of 2022 if Savills’ latest forecasting model proves to be correct.
In a report published on 5 October, the global property agent used predicted Gross Fixed Capital Formation (GFCF) as a key indicator of future demand for warehousing, with every £1 billion of private manufacturing investment expected to create a requirement for 175,000 square feet of warehouse space.

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2020 to see new UK Build to Rent investment peak

The UK Build to Rent (BTR) sector will have witnessed a record level of investment of £4.02 billion by the end of 2020, according to Knight Frank research published on 5 October.
Co-researched by HomeViews, Multihousing 2020 shows changing tenant priorities during lockdown, with BTR looking increasingly attractive to residents wanting a sense of community combined with the service-driven model that can be supportive during Covid-related lockdowns and self-isolation.

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First Freeports on track for opening in a year

Sea, air and rail ports in the UK will be able to apply for ‘Freeport’ status by the end of the year, with the first set to open by the end of 2021, the Government confirmed on 7 October.
The announcement follows a consultation on the Government’s post-Brexit proposals for establishing Freeports as a mechanism to help boost trade, by simplifying customs and planning procedures, as well as introducing tax breaks.

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Launch of design consultation for HS2 Phase 2b

The Department for Transport outlined the next steps for securing HS2 Phase 2b – the final section of Britain’s new high-speed railway – on 7 October.
This includes the launch of a consultation on four proposed changes to the design, closing on 11 December. Legislation for the western leg of Phase 2b – Crewe to Manchester – is now being taken forward after a Government-commissioned review recommended delivering Phase 2b in smaller stages.

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Energy and Environment

A green levelling-up agenda

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has recommitted to the Conservative’s election pledge of 40GW of offshore wind by 2030, with an additional £160 million fund for ports and infrastructure in key UK coastal locations and a new objective to achieve 1GW through new capabilities in floating offshore wind.
Announced on 6 October, the Government hopes the fund will help to create 2,000 construction jobs across the north-east of England, Scotland and Wales and support a green industrial revolution.

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Building between the trees

Natural England (NE) has published its vision for “thriving people and planet” over the next five years, including the requirement for new homes to be surrounded by trees, ponds, and green space.
On 7 October, NE outlined a variety of programmes aimed at helping to achieve a more accessible and durable natural environment. Key programmes include new green infrastructure standards, which are as yet undefined, and creating a ‘nature recovery network’ across the UK to protect and develop native ecosystems.

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Other News

September sees rapid increase in construction activity

Construction activity saw a strong increase in September, according to new data published on 6 October by the Chartered Institute of Procurement Supply and IHS Markit.
The Construction Total Activity Index registered 56.8 – with any score over 50 indicating total growth in construction output. The data also showed that a rise in new work led to confidence in 12-month business outlooks reaching the strongest level since February.

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