Week commencing 15 August 2016

In today's bulletin

• RTPI calls for local planners to lead public sector development
• Demand for UK housing down by one third

• Minister gives go ahead for world’s largest offshore wind farm
• First Londoners travel on Night Tube

Property, Planning and Regeneration

RTPI calls for local planners to lead public sector development

Public sector planning teams should do more to lead public development projects, according to a report from the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI). Published on 16 August, Delivering the value of planning argues that greater action by local authority planners is needed to counter feelings of Brexit uncertainty among private developers.
However, the RTPI claims that budget cuts and ongoing changes to England’s planning system have made it harder for planners to fulfil leadership roles. Nearly three-quarters of local planners said that changes to the system had made it harder for them to deliver projects.

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Demand for UK housing down by one third

The demand for UK housing reached its lowest level since November 2013 in July, with the number of house buyers declining by one third year-on-year, data from the National Association of Estate Agents (NAEA) has indicated. The NAEA’s latest Housing Market Report, released on 19 August, showed an average fall in the number of house hunters registered at its member
branches of 35 per cent compared to July 2015, with the number of first-time buyers falling by five per cent. Data from the NAEA also showed that 80 per cent of properties sold during July were purchased for less than their original asking prices, while the overall national supply of housing increased slightly from 37 properties for sale per branch in June to 38 in July.

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Investors remain confident in UK property despite Brexit

73 per cent of investors aim to be net purchasers of UK commercial property over the coming year, with 27 per cent intending to increase rather than decrease their exposure to the sector, according to JLL’s UK Investor Confidence Index published on 16 August. However, the Index, which
included some additional questions on Brexit this year, hit its lowest overall level since Q3 2011 as a result of uncertainty arising from the UK’s vote to leave the EU. The chief executive officer of JLL UK, Jack Ireland, noted that the index remained “considerably above the levels seen in late 2008.”

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England drives UK property price increases

UK house prices continued their period of strong growth during the twelve months to June 2016, increasing by 8.7 per cent to reach an average of £214,000, official figures published on 16 August have shown. The House Price Index, published monthly by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) using data from the Land Registry, indicated that the largest contribution to
the increase came from English property prices, up 9.3 per cent on June 2015. Meanwhile, figures from LSL Property Services and Acadata showed that house prices grew a further 0.2 per cent in July, representing a year-on-year increase of 5.5 per cent.

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Strong performance for London leasing market despite Brexit fears

Nearly 890,000 sq ft of central London office space was leased in July, contrary to fears that the market would be negatively impacted by Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, the latest research from BNP Paribas has revealed.
July saw the third highest monthly take-up figures for 2016 so far and beat the long-term average for the month of 875,000 sq ft. The banking and finance sector accounted for 25 per cent of July’s leasing activity.

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First Londoners travel on Night Tube

Transport for London’s (TfL) Night Tube was launched just after midnight on Friday 19 August, almost three years after plans for the service were first announced. Six trains ran per hour along the Victoria line and most of the Central line, with more than 100,000 Londoners estimated to have used the service during its first 48 hours.
Nighttime services are due to launch this autumn on the Jubilee, Northern and Piccadilly lines. TfL says that the Night Tube will help it to cope with a dramatic surge in passenger numbers on Friday and Saturday nights, which have risen by around 70 per cent since 2000.

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DfT announces RIS2 studies

Six new strategic studies to inform the development of the Government’s second Road Investment Strategy (RIS) have been launched by the Department for Transport (DfT). The reports, which are due to be completed at the end of 2016, include: the A66 and A69 Northern Trans-Pennine
corridors; the Trans-Pennine tunnel linking Manchester to Sheffield; the Manchester north-west quadrant along the M60 from junctions eight to 18; the A1 East of England from the M25 to Peterborough; the Oxford to Cambridge expressway; and the M25 south-west quadrant.

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Shortlisted routes for Trans-Pennine tunnel revealed by DfT

The Department for Transport (DfT) announced a shortlist of five potential routes for a Trans-Pennine tunnel that would link Manchester and Sheffield on 18 August. Each of the route options would join the M60 with the M1, reducing journey times between the cities by half an hour and cutting congestion through the Peak District National Park. The Minister of State at
the Department for Transport, the Rt Hon John Hayes MP, claimed that the tunnel would be the most ambitious road project in 50 years. The proposals form part of the Government’s second Road Investment Strategy, with the strategic and economic cases for each option due to be presented before the end of this year.

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Energy and environment

Minister gives go ahead for world’s largest offshore wind farm

The Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, the Rt Hon Greg Clark MP, has approved plans to construct Hornsea Project Two, the world’s largest offshore wind farm.
Located around 55 miles off the East Yorkshire coast, the farm is expected to comprise up to 300 turbines, capable of generating up to 1,800 megawatts of electricity and powering 1.8 million homes.

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Khan reveals deputy mayor for environment and energy

Shirley Rodrigues has been appointed by the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, as his new deputy mayor for environment and energy. The current acting executive director for climate change at the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation (CIFF), Ms Rodrigues previously held a number of senior
environmental policy roles at City Hall from 2005 to 2009. She will now be responsible for driving forward the Mayor’s plans to tackle air pollution in the capital, including the expansion of London’s Ultra-Low Emission Zones (ULEZ) and the creation of Low Emission Bus Zones.

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Business leaders criticise energy policy of consecutive governments

Nearly 1,000 senior business leaders believe that energy policy under consecutive UK governments has led to what the IoD’s senior infrastructure policy advisor, Dan Lewis, termed “bizarre outcomes”, according to a survey conducted by the Institute of Directors (IoD). While 59 per cent of
respondents felt that successive governments had successfully increased the UK’s renewable energy mix, 62 per cent believed that they had failed to ensure security of supply and 67 per cent said that central government had not delivered competitively priced energy.

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