Week commencing 14 March 2016

In today's bulletin

• Britain’s biggest garden city to be built in West Midlands
• BPF announces support for proposals to simplify Local Plans

• Recommendations on Network Rail’s future published
• Wind energy costs continue to fall

Property, Planning and Regeneration

Britain’s biggest garden city to be built in West Midlands

45,000 new homes are set to be built in the Black Country as Britain’s biggest garden city is constructed around Wolverhampton. Following unprecedented levels of business investment in the area demand for properties has risen, with house prices seeing an eight per cent increase last year. It is hoped
the decision will boost the local economy by £18bn over ten years and encourage further investment. Construction will begin on the 1,500 hectare site this year and is due to be completed by 2026.

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European market shows increase in commercial property investment

According to Knight Frank’s European Quarterly Report, investment in European commercial property increased by a quarter in 2015 compared with figures from the previous year. €64.5bn was recorded in Q4 taking the year’s
total to €238.5bn. Despite the strong showing for markets across Europe, the company also predicts that investment in the UK market will stall this year in the run up to June’s EU referendum.

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Average house price to break £200,000 this year, forecast predicts

The latest housing forecasts from BNP Paribas predict UK house prices will rise by 4.7 per cent in 2016, pushing the average cost of a home to over £200,000. Research suggests that southern England will see the strongest growth with prices in the South East forecast to reach an average of £373,773
by 2020. Growth is predicted to be slower in London, dropping to 3.7 per cent this year as affordability pressures and a struggling prime housing market impact the capital. Despite this, the average London home is forecast to cost £529,600 by the end of the decade.

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BPF announces support for proposals to simplify Local Plans

The British Property Federation has welcomed recommendations from the Local Plan Expert Group – established by the Housing Minister in September 2015 – that seek to streamline and speed up the local plan making process.
The BPF highlighted the recommendations to increase community engagement, and have called on the government to adopt the proposals.

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Chancellor unveils support for garden villages

In a policy designed to further support housebuilding within the UK, the Chancellor of the Exchequer has announced government plans to support proposals for garden towns and villages. As set out in Wednesday’s Budget,
local authorities coming forward with potential sites can apply for government funding streams along with advisory support direct from the Home and Communities Agency.

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Chancellor launches Starter Homes Land Fund in spring Budget

On Wednesday 16 March, as part of the spring Budget 2016, the Chancellor and Rt Hon George Osborne MP launched a Starter Homes Land Fund of £1.2 billion to help local authorities remediate brownfield land to be used
for housing. The fund is designed to support the Government’s commitment to delivering 400,000 affordable homes by 2020-21.

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Mayor of London confirms educational investment

The Mayor of London, the Rt Hon Boris Johnson MP, has announced a £65 million investment in the city’s colleges and further educational facilities to ensure Londoners are better equipped to compete for jobs in the capital.
The funding includes a £22.5m grant for Lambeth College to develop a new campus and construction skills centre, among other facilities.

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The north needs HS3

On 16 March, The National Infrastructure Commission published its third report: High Speed North. Its central finding is the need for immediate and considerable investment in the North to improve journey times, reliability
and capacity. It suggests that the High-Speed 3 rail link is key to this and recommends initial development between Manchester and Leeds as the two largest northern economies.

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TfL reveals big plans for revamp in new Budget

Transport for London has published its proposed Budget 2016/17 and Business Plan. It sets out upcoming investment to improve customer experience including the rebuilding of major stations, greater service
provision and increased accessibility. It also outlines continued investment in Crossrail and the introduction of 24 hour weekend services on key lines.

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London’s stuck in a jam

Transportation analytics company, INRIX released its 2015 Traffic Scorecard on 15 March. It revealed London as the worst city in the world for traffic congestion, with the average City driver losing 101 hours to delays. Nationally,
the average UK road user spends 30 hours a year in traffic,the sixth highest figures in Europe. Manchester came in second for UK traffic congestion, with drivers spending an average of 51 hours in gridlock.

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Recommendations on Network Rail’s future published

Chief Executive for HS1, Nicola Shaw, has published her report on the future of Network Rail (The Shaw Report: The future shape and financing of Network Rail, 16 March 2016). The report confirms the rail network should be held as a
national asset and a key public service and makes a number of recommendations to improve efficiency and accountability. A full response to the report will be published by the Department for Transport later this year.

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Energy and environment

Wind energy costs continue to fall

The cost of energy from offshore wind fell through 2015 and looks set to meet its target of £100/Mwh by 2020, according to a report by the Offshore Renewable Energy Catapult published 14 March 2016. The report also
highlights upcoming announcements on Contracts for Difference (CfD) including the time and scale of future auctions. It also outlines the long term capacity requirements that will help push costs down further.

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IEA findings point to decoupling of greenhouse gas emissions and economic growth

According to preliminary data released by the International Energy Agency (IEA) on 16 March, global energy-related CO2 emissions remained flat for the second year running. The IEA has suggested that renewable energy has played a vital part in this, accounting for 90 per cent of new electricity
generation last year. The data also hints at a weakening link between emissions and economic growth as the global economy continued to rise by more than three per cent.

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