Week commencing 27 June 2016

In today's bulletin

• Planning permissions hit eight year high
• House prices grow by five per cent, but regional disparity increases

• Warning of HS2 timetabling delays and financial pressures
• Government sets fifth carbon budget

Property, Planning and Regeneration

Deputy mayor for planning, regeneration and skills announced

The mayor of Hackney and Chair of London Councils, Jules Pipe CBE, was named as deputy mayor for planning, regeneration and skills by new Mayor of London Sadiq Khan on Thursday 30 June.
Mr Pipe will work on a range of crucial areas across the capital, including regeneration projects, skills for young people and upgrading London’s infrastructure.

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Planning permissions hit eight year high

The number of planning permissions granted in the first quarter of 2016 has risen to its highest since 2008, according to new figures from HBF and
Glenigan’s New Housing Pipeline report. 66,102 permissions were granted in Q1 of 2016, an increase of four per cent on 2015.

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HCA reveals affordable housing statistics for 2015-16

Meanwhile, housing statistics from the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA) show 33,332 housing starts on site and 25,315 housing completions delivered via programmes managed by the HCA in England for the year to 31
March 2016. Released on 28 June, the majority (64 per cent) of housing starts in 2015-16 were for affordable housing, although this is a fall of 19 per cent from 2014-15 and reflects the conclusion of the 2011-15 programme period.

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House prices grow by five per cent, but regional disparity increases

Growth in house prices has increased to 5.1 per cent in June, according to the latest House Price Index compiled by Nationwide. The index, which covers the second quarter of 2016, was released too early to take the impact of the EU referendum into account, but indicates an increase from 4.7 per
cent growth in May. The report also highlights the growing disparity between house prices across the UK: while the South of England recorded the strongest growth, the North of England was the only region that saw house prices fall.

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Mortgage lending tops £18 billion

In line with house price growth, total mortgage lending increased to £18.2 billion during May, figures compiled by the Council of Mortgage Lenders (CML) show. In a report published on 27 June, the CML noted that this
marked a month-on-month rise of four per cent, and a year-on-year increase of 14 per cent. Overall, the figure for May 2016 was the highest since 2008’s figure of £23.7 billion.

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New RICS President for 2016-17 inaugurated

Amanda Clack was inaugurated as the 135th President of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) on 27 June. During her year’s term, Ms Clack, a Partner and Head of Infrastructure (Advisory) at EY will focus on the creation
and development of smart and sustainable cities, as well as on infrastructure investment.

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Decision on airport expansion delayed

During a Parliamentary debate on airport capacity, the Secretary of State for Transport, the Rt Hon Patrick McLoughlin MP suggested that a decision on airport expansion in south eastern England will be delayed until “at least
October”. The announcement follows the UK ‘Brexit’ vote, which has led to David Cameron’s resignation and placed the decision on whether to build an extra runway at either London Gatwick or London Heathrow on hold.

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Warning of HS2 timetabling delays and financial pressures

The first phase of the HS2 high-speed rail project is at risk of delays and coming in significantly over budget, according to a new report by the National Audit Office (NAO). Published on 28 June, the report set out that the completion date of 2026 for the initial London to Birmingham line was under
threat and that current forecasts predict it will exceed its funding target by £204 million. The NAO revealed that the Department for Transport (DfT) had asked HS2 Ltd. to reassess its schedule to boost its confidence that it could deliver on time without raising costs.

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Motorway hard shoulder should not be used as live lane of traffic

The Transport Select Committee has argued that the Government should not proceed with its ‘all lane running’ scheme, which would see motorway hard shoulders used as a live lane of traffic. In its report, All lane running, published on 13 June, the Committee raised concerns over safety if the scheme were to
go ahead, including the scarcity of emergency refuge areas which could place drivers at risk. The Government has put forward the initiative in a bid to accommodate a forecasted 60 per cent increase in traffic by 2040.

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New fund to help freight industry cut emissions

The Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Transport, Andrew Jones MP has announced £19 million in funding to help the freight industry invest in low and zero emission vehicle technologies. Large HGV distribution businesses and small local delivery companies will be able to apply for the funding
from the Office for Low Emission Vehicles (OLEV) from July onwards. Part of the cash will also be used to establish the infrastructure required for low emission vehicles, such as electric charging points.

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Energy and environment

Government sets fifth carbon budget

The Department of Energy & Climate Change (DECC) confirmed on 30 June that it had set the fifth carbon budget proposed by the Committee on Climate Change (CCC), an independent body established under the Climate Change Act. The announcement means that the UK will be required to reduce
emissions by 57 per cent between 2028 and 2032 compared to 1990 levels. DECC argued that setting the target was “one of the best ways” to tackle climate change and cut emissions.

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Long-term approach needed for wind energy

A stable, long-term approach to Britain’s energy policy is needed to help onshore wind power generation reach its full potential, according to the Confederation of British Industry’s business environment director, Rhian Kelly. Speaking at the Scottish Renewables Onshore Wind Conference on 29 June, Ms Kelly argued that the impact of the Levy Control Framework beyond 2020
needed to be better understood to build investor confidence in the sector. She also called for the Government and industry to work together to develop a “practical policy solution” which would allow onshore wind to compete against other technologies for subsidies under the Contracts for Difference scheme.

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Other News

New report examines infrastructure in devolved UK

Devolution proposals should improve quality of life and environmental sustainability as well as support economic growth, according to a new report from the Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) launched in Birmingham on 30 June. In its paper, State of the Nation: Devolution, ICE sets out ten
recommendations on how devolution could further these aims, including incorporating funding for digital infrastructure to support smart technologies and giving combined authorities more responsibility for skills training in young people.

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Permanent Secretary announced to head up government’s new EU Unit

Oliver Robbins will start in his new role as Permanent Secretary of the new EU Unit in the Cabinet Office today (4 July). Mr Robbins will lead the unit, which has been set up to help determine Britain’s future relationship with Europe and the rest of the world outside the EU. Prime Minister David Cameron
said that Mr Robbins will “examine all the options and possibilities in a neutral way”. He will also have responsibility for the wider European and Global Issues Secretariat, which coordinates the collective agreement of the Government’s international economic and European policy.

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