Week commencing 26 October 2015

In today's bulletin

• House prices continue to rise
• Residential conversions up 40 per cent

• £100 billion to improve British infrastructure
• Vision for the future of Britain’s electricity grid

Property, Planning and Regeneration

Construction output falls in Q3

Construction output fell by 2.2 per cent in the third quarter of 2015, the latest estimates by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) revealed on 27 October. This was despite overall UK GDP increasing by 0.5 per cent in the same period compared with growth of 0.7 per cent in the previous three months
While manufacturing decreased by 0.3 per cent, this was offset by a 2.4 per cent increase in mining and quarrying and a 1.2 per cent increase in water and waste management.

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Residential conversions up 40 per cent

Conversions of office, retail and agricultural properties into homes increased by 40 per cent during the second quarter of 2015 compared to the same period in 2014, commercial law firm EMW has suggested. The firm believes that developers are using Permitted Development Rights (PDR) – planning rules that bypass formal applications when converting certain buildings into homes
– to increase housing stock. These conversions, EMW argues, take advantage of the boost to housing demand offered by the recent growth in mortgage lending, and are especially profitable in London.

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House prices continue to rise

House prices increased by 0.6 per cent in October to an average of £196,807, according to Nationwide’s House Price Index. Published on 29 October, the Index also revealed that house prices grew by 3.9 per cent in the year to October. While Nationwide indicates this growth is sustainable, it highlights that much will depend on whether building activity can keep pace with increasing demand.

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New home registrations fall by 2 per cent

The number of new homes registered nationwide between July and September fell by 2 per cent compared to the same period last year, the National House Building Council’s latest figures show. Published on 29 October, the New Home Statistics Review Q3 2015 revealed that 36,219 new homes were registered in the third quarter of 2015, compared with 36,955 a year ago.

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£100 billion to improve British infrastructure

The Chancellor of the Exchequer, the Rt Hon George Osborne MP, has committed to spending £100 billion on major infrastructure projects during the current parliament, including the full £15 billion required for the Roads Investment Strategy.
The Chancellor’s pledge comes in the week the National Infrastructure Commission, which will be led by former Labour transport secretary Lord Adonis, was officially unveiled on 30 October.

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Energy and environment

Vision for the future of Britain’s electricity grid

The Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) has called on regulators, the government and industry to break down the barriers that are impeding Britain’s electricity grid from reaching its potential. In its report Electricity Storage: Realising the Potential,
ICE argues electricity storage could offer a secure, affordable and cleaner future for Britain’s electricity grid. Published on 27 October, the report calls for a fusion of electricity storage technologies to be used to meet the predicted surge in demand for electricity.

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UK food companies cut out 80,000 tonnes of waste

Food manufacturers and retailers in the UK have cut 80,000 tonnes of waste since 2012, according to the Waste & Resources Action Programme (WRAP). The second interim report of WRAP’s Courtauld Commitment 3 reveals a 3.2 per cent drop in manufacturing and retail waste against the 2012
baseline – ahead of the 3 per cent overall target by 2015. The latest figures also showed the sector had gone beyond the target of maintaining a zero-increase of CO2 emissions with a 3.9 per cent reduction in two years.

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Other News

UK population to increase beyond 70 million

The UK population is to increase beyond 70 million in the next 12 years, an ONS report released on 29 October has predicted. Official projections from the ONS said the population was expected to increase by 4.4 million in the next decade, before reaching 70 million in 2027.
Another key finding from the report was that, by mid-2039, more than one in 12 of the population is projected to be 80 years old or over.

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