Week commencing 16 November 2015

In today's bulletin

• Market prices forecast to be unaffordable for 70,000 households a year by 2020
• Greenwich Peninsula development plans approved by Mayor of London

• MP’s critical of rail investment failures
• UK energy policy overhaul announced

Property, Planning and Regeneration

Market prices forecast to be unaffordable for 70,000 households a year by 2020

A report published by Savills on Monday estimates that 350,000 English households will need help to rent or buy, by 2020. The figures are based on 30 per cent of gross household income being spent on housing, which would leave 70,000
low and middle income households unable to afford market prices. According to the report this would leave some households in London with an income of up to £60,000 in need of assistance.

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CPRE criticises ‘flawed’ housing targets

The Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) has criticised the way local authorities set housing targets and has called for an overhaul of the planning process. It has suggested that current policies lack clear guidance and objectivity and do not show enough concern for the environment. Research
carried out by the organisation claimed that local authorities are being told to base targets on aspiration rather than need and are choosing more lucrative sites for development instead of using brownfield land, causing an unnecessary loss in countryside.

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Mortgage lending at highest level since 2008

Estimates released by the Council of Mortgage Lenders (CML) on Thursday showed that gross mortgage lending reached £21.8 billion in October, the highest monthly figure since July 2008. This is an 8 per cent increase on September’s figures and a 19 per cent rise from this time last year.
The CML forecasted lending of £209 billion for this year, but chief economist Bob Pannell said the new data means figures are now likely to exceed this.

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Shopping centre investment market on the rise

Investment in UK shopping centres is set to surpass £5 billion in 2015, according to the property agency Knight Frank. The figure marks the second strongest outturn since 2006. After a slow start to
the financial year, figures show there has been a seasonal pick-up in investment with a 24 per cent increase in sales volumes compared with Q2.

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Communities Secretary reacts to latest housing figures

The Rt Hon Greg Clark MP, Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, has suggested that government policies, seeking to transfer housing powers to local communities and transform the planning system, are working. According to figures released by the department,
753,000 new homes have been provided since 2010. 186,000 of these were built in the year to September which represents the highest annual increase in new homes since 2008.

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Greenwich Peninsula development plans approved by Mayor of London

Plans for a new 12,678 home development in the Greenwich Peninsula have been given the go-ahead by the Mayor of London. The plans will transform the site of a disused gasworks into a brand new district, containing five distinct neighbourhood zones. In addition to thousands of new homes,
the proposals include extensive business and retail space, schools, hotels and a film studio. Developers, Knight Dragon estimate that the project will generate 12,000 jobs.

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Britain’s broken bridges revealed

Thousands of bridges across the UK are unsuitable for the heaviest vehicles, a new study by the RAC Foundation has found.
The report also found that the bill for repairing Britain’s inadequate bridges would cost around £328m.

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MPs critical of rail investment failures

Budget increases in rail investment projects have been branded “staggering and unacceptable” by the House of Commons Public Accounts Committee. A new report into Network Rail’s current five-year
investment programme was heavily critical, with the committee calling for a full review of the effectiveness of rail infrastructure planning.

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Energy and environment

Coal power stations to close by 2025

Energy and Climate Change Secretary, The Rt Hon Amber Rudd MP, announced on 18 November that all coal-fired power stations in the UK would close by 2025. The announcement comes as part of a change of direction for energy policy which aims to tackle what the Secretary described as “a legacy
of underinvestment and ageing power stations”. Consultations will be launched next year on when to close the stations, but current proposals suggest that usage should be restricted from 2023 ahead of complete closure two years later.

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UK energy policy overhaul announced

Proposals intended to reform current energy policies were announced last week by the Department of Energy and Climate Change. In addition to plans to close coal-fired power stations by 2025 and replace them with greener, gas-fired alternatives,
the Rt Hon Amber Rudd MP outlined a renewed commitment to nuclear power and offshore wind, providing costs for the latter fell to meet new government conditions.

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Offshore wind set to supply third of UK power and 50,000 jobs by 2030

According to a document released by the Offshore Wind Industry Council on 17 November, the renewable technology could support up to 50,000 skilled jobs by 2030. The document outlines a number of cost-reducing measures that could make offshore wind increasingly viable as an energy
source, with the potential to meet a third of UK electricity demand in the next fifteen years. According to the Council the technology is on track to be cost-competitive with other energy generation sources by the mid-2020s.

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Other News

Local authority funding reserves increasing

New figures published on 19 November show that, in the last 15 years, the amount England’s 444 local authorities hold in non-ringfenced reserves increased by nearly 170 per cent to £22.5 billion.

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