Week commencing 18 July 2016

In today's bulletin

• New Minister for Housing, Planning and London
• Decline in homeownership halts for first time since 2003

• UK growth to slow after Brexit shock
• UK house prices continue upwards march in May

Property, Planning and Regeneration

New Minister for Housing, Planning and London

Gavin Barwell MP has been appointed as the new Minister of State for Housing and Planning and Minister for London at the Department for Communities and Local Government. The Croydon Central MP replaces Brandon Lewis MP who has now taken over the role of Minister of
State for Policing and the Fire Service at the Home Office. A former parliamentary private secretary to Greg Clark MP, Mr Barwell does not have any previous housing or development experience.

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Decline in homeownership halts for first time since 2003

The number of people who own their own homes stopped falling for the first time since 2003 and reached a total of 14 million owner occupiers across the country last year, the latest English housing survey has revealed. The Government claims that this reflects the impact of its initiatives to boost home ownership, such as Right to Buy and Help to Buy, with more than 309,000
people reported to have received help to purchase a home through government-backed schemes. Published on 21 July, the survey also showed an increase in the satisfaction of private renters over the past decade and a significant decline in the number of private renters living in what are classified as ‘non-decent’ homes.

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UK house prices continue upwards march

UK house prices increased by £16,000 in the year to May 2016 to reach an average value of £211,000, according to the latest House Price Index (HPI) bulletin from the Office for National Statistics’ (ONS). Published on 19 July, the
index revealed that house price inflation in May remained at April’s rate of 8.1 per cent, but highlighted a marked variation between the regions. London continued to see the highest average house price, standing at £472,000.

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Mortgage lending reaches eight-year high

Gross mortgage lending reached £20.7 billion in June, with the latest report from the Council of Mortgage Lenders (CML) showing a 16 per cent increase on May’s total. The figures for June represent the highest recorded for the
month since 2008. The CML has now estimated that gross mortgage lending for the second quarter of 2016 stood at a total of £56.1 billion.

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UK growth to slow after Brexit shock

Real GDP growth in the UK is expected to slow to around 1.6 per cent in 2016 and fall to an estimated 0.6 per cent in 2017 as a result of the uncertainty caused by the EU referendum vote, according to PwC’s latest UK Economic
Outlook report. Published on 19 July, the report anticipated that UK growth would recover from 2017 onwards as the shock of Brexit receded, but noted that growth predictions remain volatile.

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UK commercial property hit hard by Brexit

Confidence and investor demand across the UK commercial property market has been shaken by the EU referendum result, the Q2 2016 RICS UK Commercial Property Market Survey has indicated. Published on 21 July, the survey noted that occupier demand across the UK had failed to rise for the
first time in four years, while the net balance for investment enquiries fell from +25 per cent in Q1 to -16 per cent in the second quarter of the year. 36 per cent of survey respondents believed that the market had entered a downturn phase.

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UK homeowners perceive house price fall in the wake of Brexit vote

14.6 per cent of UK households believed that the value of their homes had fallen in July following the EU referendum, according to the latest Knight Frank/Markit House Price Sentiment Index (HPSI). The biggest loss of momentum was felt to have been in London, while only the South East and the East of England regions registered perceptions of rising house prices.
The HSPI, which measures public perception of house prices, registered its first fall below the 50-point no change reading since February 2013 to reach 48.3 in July. Households were more optimistic in the medium-term, however, as homeowners expected to see a moderate rise in property prices over the next 12 months.

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Oxford Street to be pedestrianised by 2020

London’s deputy mayor for transport, Val Shawcross CBE, has announced that vehicle traffic will be banned from Oxford Street by 2020. Speaking to the London Assembly, Ms Shawcross said that she wanted the area to become “a world beating, globally famous shopping location” that would be safer
and more pleasant to visit. Three-quarters of the iconic street between Tottenham Court Road and Marble Arch will be fully pedestrianised by 2020, with the remainder of the route likely to see all vehicles removed after the next mayoral election.

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Rail safety progressing but still more to be done

No railway worker fatalities were registered between 2015-16, making Britain’s railways the safest they have ever been, according to a new report by the Office of Rail and Road (ORR). The ORR’s Annual Health and Safety Report of Performance on Britain’s Railways: 2015-16, published on 19 July, recorded a
broadly consistent level of safety performance throughout the year, but highlighted that there were still key areas where improvements needed to be made, including safety at level crossings and loss of life and injury at stations. .

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New report boosts case for second runway at Stansted

A new report by the London-Stansted-Cambridge Corridor (LSCC) Growth Commission has argued that Stansted Airport will be a key driver of growth for the region over the next 20 years, adding that it would support the construction of a second runway at the airport if backed by a strong business
case. Published on 13 July, The next global knowledge region: setting the ambitions and delivering the vision argues that the airport has capacity to expand and could play an important role in meeting aviation needs across the South East.

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Energy and environment

“Challenging year” for UK energy policies

The UK Government was criticised for retreating on various energy efficiency policies and was ranked fifth in the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy’s (ACEEE) latest global energy efficiency scorecard.
The ACEEE labelled 2015 a “challenging year” for the UK’s energy and climate change policies, pointing to cuts to green energy subsidies, the end of the Green Deal and the scrapping of Zero Carbon Homes.

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