Week commencing 14 November 2016

In today's bulletin

• New homes built in England up 11 per cent
• Government outlines preferred route for HS2 Phase Two

• Environmental Audit Committee calls for Treasury to ‘green check’ decisions
• Local government leaders unite to call for post-Brexit devolution

Property, Planning and Regeneration

New homes built in England up 11 per cent

The number of new homes built in England in 2015-16 increased by 11 per cent compared to the previous year, according to new figures released by the Department for Communities and Local Government. The data, released on 15 November, indicates that there were 189,650 net additions to
the housing supply, mostly generated by new build homes. However, the numbers are still 15 per cent below the 2007-08 peak and well short of the 200,000 annual net additions many commentators believe are necessary to keep pace with demand.

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First-time buyers need better support, new study finds

First-time buyers need more help if we are to combat decreasing levels of home ownership in the UK, an independent report led by Pete Redfern, the chief executive of Taylor Wimpey plc has concluded. Published on 15 November, the Redfern Review reveals that, over the past 12 years, home ownership rates among 25-34 year olds have fallen significantly from 59 per cent to just 37 per cent.
Commissioned by Shadow Secretary of State for Housing, the Rt Hon John Healey MP, the Review recommends that schemes such as Help-to-Buy should be available solely to first-time buyers, in addition to calling for the creation of an independent housing commission and the introduction of 10- and 20-year building targets to tackle the national housing shortage.

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Councils should have more control over implementing housing policy locally

The Government must devolve housing powers to local authorities if it is to meet housebuilding targets by 2020, according to a report by think-tank Localis supported by Lloyds Banking Group. Published on 17 November and based on a number of interviews and surveys with councils across the UK, Power behind the Home: Why devolving housing powers will build more
homes argues that “local housing challenges require local solutions”. It contends that councils should be empowered to take decisions on how and where housing can be delivered, including allowing greater flexibility over local implementation of Starter Homes, as well as Right to Buy.

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London office construction jumps but growth is slowing

Office construction in the capital hit an eight-year peak and grew four per cent in half a year to reach a total of 14.8 million sq ft, Deloitte’s latest London Office Crane Survey has shown. This increase came despite eleven fewer new schemes being recorded than in the preceding survey period and predictions
that prime rents would decrease over the next year. The survey highlighted that new office hubs were emerging in areas including Stratford, Battersea & Nine Elms and White City.

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Certainty and transparency needed in the home moving process

Greater certainty and transparency are key to making improvements to the home moving process, according to a new white paper by trade body the Conveyancing Association (CA). Published on 14 November, Modernising the Home Moving Process outlines the ways progress can be achieved, including greater collaboration and data-sharing between all stakeholders
in the home moving process, especially in the early phase. The report was motivated by the CA’s findings that customers, conveyancers and estate agents are dissatisfied with the speed and transparency of the current process.

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London pips Paris as Europe’s top retail destination

London has been named the best retail location for expanding international brands in Savills’ latest European Retail Destination Index. The international real estate advisor said the city’s success was down to its high tourist flows
and consumer retail spend, as well as the opportunities it offers for new entrants to the market and total occupational costs, which are nearly seven per cent cheaper than nearest rival, Paris.

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British home ownership lags behind many European neighbours

Proportionally fewer people in the UK are home owners than many other European nations, according to a study by mortgage company Credit Foncier. The research was based on European Union statistics from eight countries that together make up 75 per cent of Europe’s population.
While 65 per cent of people are home owners in Britain, 73 per cent own their own homes in Italy, 79 per cent in Spain and 84 per cent in Poland. Meanwhile French home owners make up the same percentage of the population as in the UK, while Germany has fewer than 54 per cent.

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Government outlines preferred route for HS2 Phase Two

Details of the route for the second phase of the new £56bn HS2 high-speed rail line were announced by the Transport Secretary, the Rt Hon Chris Grayling MP, on 15 November. The Government outlined its preferred options for the ‘Y network’ lines north of Birmingham, which will run from Crewe
to Manchester and the West Midlands to Leeds. Scheduled to be operational by 2033, the legislation covering the Phase Two route is expected to be introduced in 2019, although it remains highly controversial among those affected by the plans.

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Rail regulator to devolve decision making

The Office of Rail and Road (ORR) has confirmed that it is to modify its approach to rail regulation by putting a greater focus on each of Network Rail’s individual routes, rather than arbitrating the network solely at a national level. Announced on 17 November alongside the findings from its 2018
periodic review consultation, the ORR’s director of railway markets & economics, John Larkinson, said he expects the changes to support plans to work more closely with train companies, but advised that the devolved responsibility should be introduced incrementally to mitigate any industry concerns.

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Energy and environment

Environmental Audit Committee calls for Treasury to ‘green check’ decisions

In a new report published on 18 November, the Environmental Audit Committee (EAC) has called for changes to the Landfill Tax to drive up recycling rates and improve investment in the recycling sector. Sustainability
and HM Treasury argues that short-term concerns have been prioritised over long-term sustainability and that the Treasury needs to “green check” future decisions to improve its performance and provide greater leadership on environmental sustainability.

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Imperial College Business School unveils climate finance research centre

A new academic research centre to help businesses make better green investment decisions was launched on 14 November by Imperial College Business School. Researchers at the Centre for Climate Finance and Investment will help investors identify the risks and financial
opportunities posed by climate disruption and address the current lack of information on emerging industrial sectors, such as clean energy, energy efficiency and climate-resilient infrastructure.

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Other News

Local government leaders unite to call for post-Brexit devolution

The UK’s local government associations have called for further devolution to the regions. In a joint statement released on 16 November, leaders from the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (COSLA) and the Local Government Associations of England, Wales and Northern Ireland said the vote to leave the European Union had exposed a sense that some people feel “distanced from
decision making and disconnected from the political process”. The associations also called for talks with the Government to ensure that the constitutional settlement post-Brexit considers transferring powers to communities via local government.

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