Week commencing 7 December 2020

In today's bulletin

• More than one million homes waiting to be submitted into the planning system
• Commons committee launches inquiry on major transport infrastructure projects

• ‘Decarbonising the UK’s heating systems is vital’
• UK production continues to recover in Q3 2020

Property, Planning and Regeneration

Urgent action needed to help first-time buyers

‘Deplorable’ was the word used by a group of MPs to describe government policies designed to help first-time homebuyers.
The criticism from the Public Accounts Committee comes amid ongoing uncertainty over the First Homes scheme and the failure to deliver any units under the Starter Homes initiative.

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More than one million homes waiting to be submitted into the planning system

More than a third of homes on sites allocated in current English local plans are yet to be brought forward by developers for planning permission, a study by the Local Government Association (LGA) has revealed.
The LGA says this statistic proves the planning system is not a barrier to building new homes.

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Housing associations call for roadmap and funding to help achieve net zero

Only eight per cent of housing associations have a comprehensive plan in place to make their homes net zero by the government’s 2050 target.
A survey from the National Housing Federation also showed that nearly three quarters are beginning to draw up carbon neutral strategies, but there are worries in the industry over a lack of funding.

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New data points to uneven housing market

New official data shows the true extent of the disparity in house prices across the UK, including a huge gap between the North East and Central London.
The Office for National Statistics shows the median price paid for a property in the year to June 2020 ranged from as little as £26,000 in Hartlepool, to £5,300,000 in Westminster.

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Housing sales still rising ahead of March stamp duty deadline

Sales of homes rose again in November but the rate of growth is showing signs of slowing, according to data from the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors.
The RICS UK Residential Market Survey shows demand is still rising ahead of the stamp duty holiday ending in March, with prices increasing in most of the UK.

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Transport

Commons committee launches inquiry on major transport infrastructure projects

COVID-19 and carbon neutrality are among the matters the House of Commons Transport Committee is asking people to consider as part of an inquiry into major infrastructure delivery.
Evidence can be submitted until 15 January and will be used by the committee to inform its recommendations to government.

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Government warned not to overlook county bus routes

A group of local authority leaders and MPs has urged the government to invest in rural bus routes and secure the future of this critical lifeline for many residents.
A report by the County Councils Network and County All-Party Parliamentary Group says the number of bus journeys across 36 English counties fell by 97 million in the decade to 2019.

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Transport policy not on track to deliver carbon neutral goal

Surface transport has been slow to decarbonise over the past decade and the sector is the largest emitter of greenhouse gases.
The Chartered Institution of Highways and Transportation says government policy is currently not on track to deliver the 2050 carbon neutral target, requiring greater investment in public transport and active travel initiatives.

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Leap in rail freight helping a green Christmas

The past decade has seen an increase in rail freight of almost 20 per cent, helping to cut carbon emissions and reduce heavy goods traffic on the nation’s roads.
The Rail Delivery Group has revealed that over 1.6 million tonnes of freight have travelled by rail in the past month alone.

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Energy and Environment

Is hydrogen key to net zero?

Following the recent government pledge of a hydrogen fund worth more than £320 million, MPs have launched an inquiry into the role of the gas in the drive to net zero.
Announced on 7 December, the study will examine infrastructure requirements, coordination with other technologies and whether the gas is appropriate for meeting the target.

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‘Decarbonising the UK’s heating systems is vital’

The UK must invest in decarbonising heating systems to achieve net zero by 2050, according to the Green Finance Institute.
A new report from the independent body, set up to tackle barriers to investment in carbon reduction initiatives, outlines a package of technological, policy and market interventions worth £65 billion.

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Worsening air quality: another casualty of the pandemic

Four in five UK cities are now experiencing pre-pandemic levels of pollution or worse, according to new research published on 10 December.
The Centre for Cities think tank is calling on government to strengthen air quality guidelines in the emerging Environment Bill to match targets from the World Health Organisation.

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Other News

UK production continues to recover in Q3 2020

Strong summer production bolstered the UK’s third quarter output, with a 7.6 per cent increase compared with the second quarter.
However, the figures are 6.1 per cent below the equivalent period in 2019 and 4.4 per cent below the month immediately preceding the first lockdown.

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