Week commencing 13 July 2015

In today's bulletin

• London Land Commission launched to free up public land in the Capital
• RTPI: Empower LEPs to promote growth and devolution

• Crossrail 2 commission announced
• Grid anticipates electricity squeeze in winter

Property, Planning and Regeneration

London Land Commission launched to free up public land in the Capital

The London Land Commission – the first coordinated initiative between the Government and City Hall aimed at freeing surplus public land for housing development – was launched by the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson MP, and Housing Minister, Brandon Lewis MP on 13 July.
Real estate firm, Savills, has been appointed to compile a preliminary ‘Domesday Book’ of all brownfield public land in London by the end of 2015.  The Commission is intended to build on recent planning reforms announced by the Chancellor, the Rt Hon George Osborne MP, to accelerate the delivery of housing across the UK. 

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BNP Paribas highlights Shed Boom

A ‘chronic undersupply’ in the logistics market is driving a big shed development boom, according to BNP Paribas Real Estate.  The property advisor’s Big Shed report highlights the 16 million sq ft shed development boom in the first half of 2015,
and shows that work has begun on 7.6 million sq ft of speculative development in the same period – a post-financial crash high.  BNP Paribas has attributed 60 per cent of the total take-up figure to retailers requiring additional space for their operations.

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RTPI: Empower LEPs to promote growth and devolution

Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) could play a critical role in devolution to cities and regions and promoting economic growth, the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) has argued.  In its study, Local Enterprise Partnerships and Devolution, published on 13 July,
the RTPI claims that LEPs are being held back by their unclear status and unfamiliarity with town planning.  The Institute suggests that, with greater powers, LEPs can help to shape strategy and implementation of housing and employment across local authority boundaries.

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UK’s first smart ‘energy positive’ house built

The UK’s first house that generates, stores and releases its own renewable energy has been completed.  Designed by the Welsh School of Architecture, the prototype ‘energy positive’ house aims to help meet the Government’s target for zero carbon new housing.
Its energy storage and generation technologies mean that it is the first house that is capable of exporting more energy to the national electricity grid than it uses.

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ONS reveals steep increase in annual house price

UK house prices increased by 5.7 per cent in the year to May 2015, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).  In its House Price Index for May 2015, published on 14 July, the ONS revealed that the annual house price increases in England were driven by
increases in the East (9.3 per cent) and the South East (8.2 per cent). The ONS reports that the average UK house price in May 2015 was £274,000.

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Shipping Minister welcomes milestone for Maritime Growth Study

Robert Goodwill MP, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Transport, has welcomed the publication of evidence for the Maritime Growth Study, which will offer recommendations on how to expand the UK’s maritime sector.  The results of a maritime industry consultation, an independent report into the international competitiveness of the UK maritime sector,
and a report commissioned by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency, will be used by Lord Mountevans, the chair of the Maritime Growth Study, as he examines how Britain’s maritime industries can increase their contribution to the economy.

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London Assembly aims to tackle diesel pollution

London’s air quality is the worst in the UK and among the worst in Europe, according to a report by the London Assembly Environment Committee.  Published on 14 July, Driving away from diesel: Reducing air pollution from diesel vehicles examines London’s efforts to reduce pollution from diesel vehicles and concludes that up to seven per cent of all adult
deaths in the capital can be attributed to air pollution.  The committee has recommended that the Mayor bring forward and extend plans for a new Ultra Low Emission Zone in London and work with the taxi industry to provide the necessary infrastructure for zero-emission taxis. 

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Two new electric bus routes as TfL aims to cut carbon

Transport for London (TfL) announced, on 15 July, that two additional bus routes will operate using only electric buses from Autumn 2016, in a bid to reduce carbon emissions and improve the capital’s air quality.  Routes 507 and 521 will operate 51 electric buses and become the second and third pure electric bus routes in London,
bringing TfL closer to its target of operating all 300 single decker buses at zero emission (either electric or hydrogen) and making all 3,000 double deck buses hybrid by 2020.  The buses will deliver a reduction of 408 tonnes of CO2 and 10 tonnes of NOx per year compared to single deck diesel buses.

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Crossrail 2 commission announced

With Crossrail 1 nearing completion, the Mayor of London has announced the launch of a new Growth Commission for Crossrail 2.  Chaired by Sir Merrick Cockerell, the study group will play a key role in helping to realise the project’s
“full potential to boost economic growth”.  At the launch on 17 July, the Mayor suggested Crossrail 2 could help the capital to support 200,000 new homes and a similar number of new jobs.

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Welsh Government’s National Transport Finance Plan Published

On 16 July, the Welsh Government published its National Transport Finance Plan 2015, setting out a timetable of delivery, estimated expenditure and sources of funding for the Welsh Government’s key transport projects. 
Minister for Business, Enterprise, Technology and Science, Edwina Hart AM explained that the schemes in the Plan “target five key priority areas: economic growth, tackling poverty, sustainable travel and safety, and improving access to employment and to services.”

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Energy and Environment

Grid anticipates electricity squeeze in winter

National Grid anticipates tighter electricity margins but sufficient gas supplies in the coming winter, according to its winter 2014/15 report and consultation for the winter ahead.  Published on 15 July, the report sets out that demand peaked at 53.2GW last winter,
significantly below Britain’s 77.6GW total generating capacity, but that electricity margins have tightened owing to power station closures.  The energy company has taken additional precautions by buying extra services, and is now calling for industry feedback on its plans for the coming winter.

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Other News

Historic devolution deal sees Cornwall gaining new powers

Cornwall is to become the first county to be granted new powers to tailor local services and support local business, as part of the Government’s ‘One Nation’ initiative to devolve powers to local authorities.  The new arrangements will give Cornwall Council control over bus services, adult skills and regional investment,
as well as more say in health and social services.  The changes are subject to approval of the Cities and Local Government Devolution Bill, which is currently passing through Parliament and intended to make it simpler to devolve more powers to more regions.

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Paul Drechsler announced as new CBI President

The UK’s largest business organisation, the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), has announced the appointment of Paul Drechsler CBE as President, succeeding Sir Mike Rake to become the 26th President of the organisation. 
Mr Drechsler will play a leading role in the advocacy work of the CBI, and his responsibilities will include meeting with ministers, chairing the board and promoting British business throughout the world.  Mr Drechsler said: “It is a great honour to be appointed CBI President at this important time for the United Kingdom’s economy.” 

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