Week commencing 19 March 2018

In today's bulletin

• Latest housing price growth figures released
• Heathrow rail link leads the way for new transport funding schemes

• Cold snap leads to energy record
• UK GDP forecasts up, but economy remains subdued

Property, Planning and Regeneration

Housing benefit up but new home investment drops, new figures show

Analysis from the Chartered Institute for Housing released on Wednesday (21 March) has found that government housing subsidy going towards new home building dropped to 4.3 per cent in 2015/16.
95.7 per cent was spent on housing benefit, with support for mortgage interest accounting for £200m.

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Progress being made to meet housing targets, HBF says

The Home Builders Federation has called on the government to recognise the achievements of the industry in trying to meet government housing targets.
In a speech given on Wednesday (21 March), executive chairman Stewart Baseley highlighted that supply has risen by 74 per cent in four years, while tens of thousands of new employees are being recruited and trained by the industry.

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All but one local authority surpasses £100,000 average house price threshold

Of the 348 local authorities in England and Wales only one now has an average house price of less than £100,000, according to the latest analysis from Savills.
The Welsh authority of Blaenau Gwent is now the sole authority left under £100,000, with an average price of £97,147. The data, released on Monday (19 March), also showed that all London authorities now have an average house price of over £300,000.

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£300m investment to boost regional housing delivery

The Rt Hon Sajid Javid MP announced nearly £300m of investment last week (21 March) to be spread across Greater Manchester, Oxfordshire and the West of England.
The funding will help encourage the delivery of thousands of new homes and has been announced alongside the news that a further 44 areas of the UK have been shortlisted for support as part of the Housing Infrastructure Fund. Greater Manchester will receive £68m to support a 227,200-home target by 2035 while the West of England will aim to double its housing delivery by building 7,500 homes a year.

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LGA calls for end to borrowing cap for all councils

The Local Government Association (LGA) has responded to the government’s latest figures on housebuilding which, while still below pre-recession peaks, saw a small rise in the number of homes completed in England between 2016 and 2017.
LGA Housing spokesman, Cllr Martin Tett, described the news as a “positive step” but suggested that in order to reach its target of 300,000 new homes, “the government should deliver the resurgence in council housing we need, by lifting the housing borrowing cap for all councils immediately.”

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Housebuilders launch defence against critics

In a speech to the Home Builders Federation policy conference on Wednesday (21 March), HBF executive chairman Stewart Baseley claimed that the industry is doing all it can to plug the UK’s housing shortage.
Mr Baseley added that negative rhetoric directed at the sector is “providing cover for NIMBYs and “energising anti-housebuilder campaigns”.

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Latest housing price growth figures released

According to official figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS), average UK house prices rose by 4.9 per cent in the year to January 2018, down 0.1 per cent from December 2017.
These statistics show that annual growth have remained broadly stable at around five per cent since 2017. Average house prices are now £226,000 – around £11,000 higher than in January 2017.

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Transport

Heathrow rail link leads the way for new transport funding schemes

A call for ideas on market-led proposals to enhance the nation’s railways was launched by Transport Secretary Chris Grayling on Tuesday 20 March.
In one of the first projects under Government plans to invite third parties to invest in the rail network, private companies have been invited to come forward with ideas to deliver a new southern rail link to Heathrow Airport. .

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Transport Committee Publishes Report on Airports National Policy Statement

The House of Commons Transport Select Committee published its final report on the Airports National Policy Statement (NPS), which forms part of the planning process for large infrastructure schemes, on Friday 23 March.
The report recommends several additional conditions of approval to be included in the final version of the NPS, including revisions to air quality, surface access, and community impacts.

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Rail plan launched to boost the West’s economy

The companies running the railway in the West of England have set out their long-term plan for the region’s railway.

The plan, called In Partnership for Britain’s Prosperity – The West of England, will secure £9.45bn of additional economic benefits for communities along the Great Western main line.

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Energy and environment

Weakness in community involvement for planning national infrastructure projects

Research conducted by University College London (UCL) and funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), has concluded that there are weaknesses in participation at every stage of the planning process for Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects (NSIPs).
The research calls for government funding to improve community involvement in the decisions, stating that more needs to be to be done to define consultation, to avoid some schemes using it as a “tick box process”.

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Cold snap leads to energy record

On Saturday 17 March, during the cold snap dubbed the mini beast from the east, wind power provided more than a third of Britain’s power needs for the first time, generating 14.3 gigawatts.
The record exceeds the previous 13.8 gigawatts recorded during the first beast from the east on 1 March.

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New deal set up to generate third of UK electricity need through offshore wind by 2030

The offshore wind industry has committed to a deal with the UK Government that aims to boost offshore wind capacity from 13 gigawatts deployed or contracted at the moment, to 30 gigawatts by 2030.
The industry’s vision for 2030 sets out an increase in export value to £2.6 billion annually, an increase of 16,000 jobs in the industry across the UK, and a £48 billion investment in UK infrastructure.

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Subsidy-free renewables investment set to rise

Leading independent energy market modelling and analytics company Aurora Energy Research revealed on 20 March that the UK is on track for a new age of subsidy-free renewable energy projects.
Aurora’s analysis reveals potential investment in the region of 60GW across North West Europe by 2030, with 18GW of this in Great Britain.

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Environment Agency shakes up regulatory service charges

On 21 March the Environment Agency published its new charging scheme for regulatory permits and services, which will come into effect from 1 April 2018. Charges for permits and other regulatory services have remained unchanged for seven years.
The new charges are thought to be a more financially-sustainable model which is simpler, fairer and more effective and that will lead to long-term environmental improvements.

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Other News

UK GDP forecasts up, but economy remains subdued

The British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) last week upgraded its growth forecasts for the UK in 2018 from 1.1 per cent to 1.4 per cent and for 2019 from 1.3 per cent to 1.5 per cent.
Despite the upgrades, UK GDP growth is set to remain well below historical averages and the country looks set to remain the worst performing economy in the G7 until 2020 at the earliest.

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Manufacturing growth dips but remains ahead of long-term averages

A survey released by the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) last week showed that manufacturing growth slowed in in the three months to March but stayed ahead of long-term averages.
According to the survey of 381 manufacturers, growth was predominantly driven by vehicle, chemicals and electronic engineering sectors, and was supported by a weaker pound.

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Major urban centres of the North and Midlands outperforming rest of country

A new report released on 21 March has revealed how large northern and midlands cities are outperforming the rest of the country in attracting jobs and residents to city centres.
Compiled by Centre for Cities, the report showed how Manchester, Leeds and Birmingham city centres displayed particularly strong growth, as measured by combined jobs and residential trends, all growing more than 6.5 times faster than London between 2002 and 2015.

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