Week commencing 30 January 2017

In today's bulletin

• New home registrations stable despite turbulent 2016
• Highways England urged to improve road conditions

• Government seeks feedback on Heathrow expansion
• New figures show drop in house price growth

Property, Planning and Regeneration

New figures show drop in house price growth

House prices rose by 0.2 per cent last month according to figures from Nationwide, the slowest level of growth the market has experienced
since November 2015. This compares to a rise of 0.8 per cent in December 2016.

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Construction sector suffers weaker growth, but confidence remains high

Growth in the construction sector slowed last month to its lowest level since September, according to the latest Purchasing Managers’ Index by Market/CIPS. However, confidence for the year ahead is strong, with job
creation at an eight-month high and more than half of respondents predicting a rise in business activity over the next year.

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New home registrations stable despite turbulent 2016

The National House Building Council has revealed that more than 150,000 new homes were registered in 2016, the second highest figure in the last ten years.
This is a 70 per cent increase compared to the housing crash of 2007/2008, but is two per cent lower than the number registered in 2015.

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Northern Powerhouse drives property values through the roof

On 2 February financial services firm JLL announced that house prices are set to increase by 18.1 per cent across the North West over the next five years. High demand and low supply will continue to edge prices up, with Manchester leading the way with a 28.2 per cent increase by 2021.
JLL expects that Build to Rent development will soon be the mainstay of new schemes in Manchester and the city will be among the first choices for international investors targeting the sector.

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Construction activity on the rise in major cities

Deloitte’s annual crane survey has highlighted an increase in construction activity in several major UK cities. In both Birmingham and Leeds office
construction has risen to its highest rate in a decade, while in Manchester the number of new starts was 40 per cent above its previous high in 2007.

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House of Lords debates Neighbourhood Planning Bill amendments

A House of Lords committee again debated the Neighbourhood Planning Bill on 2 February, suggesting several new amendments to government proposals. These included enabling the creation of development corporations and devolving the power to appoint board members on these corporations
to local authorities. During the debate Lord Bourne, a Department of Communities and Local Government under-secretary, reassured the committee that the Government recognises and supports a locally led approach to the creation of new garden towns and villages.

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Trials underway to improve deals for rail customers

Measures to ensure customers get the best deal on train tickets are set to be trialled by rail companies after recommendations from the Rail Delivery Group (RDG). The measures include ensuring passengers will get the lowest fare for a journey, removing the need for ‘split-ticketing’ which breaks down tickets
on journeys because that can be cheaper than a straight ticket. The trials are due to start in May and will be available to passengers on trains between London and Sheffield or London and Scotland.

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Solar trains – a possibility?

Researchers from Imperial College London and climate change charity 10:10 have announced a project to explore the possibility of using track-side solar farms to power trains in the UK. The use of solar on trains offers a solution to the power constraints experienced by rail companies due to electricity
distribution networks across the country operating at maximum voltage. The Renewable Traction Power project could speed-up the rail network’s decarbonising plan and offer a boost to the renewables sector in the UK.

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Government seeks feedback on Heathrow expansion

People are being asked for their views on plans for a third runway at Heathrow as part of a consultation on the draft Airports National Policy Statement.
The sixteen-week consultation, which closes on 25 May, will include 20 public events and 13 further events for businesses and other interested parties.

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Highways England urged to improve road conditions

The Office for Road and Rail (ORR) has ordered Highways England to agree a ‘robust, deliverable and affordable’ approach to long-term investment and improving road conditions.
The ORR set out areas for Highways England to look at in a report released on 2 February. It threatens that action could be taken if the management of road conditions does not improve.

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Energy and environment

UK remains in EU’s recycling top 10

The UK has tied for tenth place in the recycling table for 2015, the European Union’s statistics body Eurostat revealed on 30 January. Figures showed that despite the UK generating less waste per person than Denmark, Germany and
Luxembourg all three countries were still higher in the table than the UK. The UK, ninth in 2014, was knocked into tenth spot by a massive recycling surge in Slovenia, which increased recycling by 18.1 per cent between 2014 and 2015.

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UK not pulling its weight to meet energy targets

A European Commission report has stated that the European Union is on track to use 20 per cent of energy from renewable sources by 2020, but that the UK is falling behind. The report shows that in the last decade the UK is one of three EU countries to become more dependent on imported energy,
while the net dependency of the EU as a whole has decreased. The increased dependency in Denmark, Poland and the UK has been blamed on the “decline of indigenous fossil fuel production”.

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Other News

Bank of England upgrades growth prediction again

The Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) has predicted two per cent growth in the UK economy this year, an increase on the 1.4 per cent estimated in November.
Since August last year the forecast has been revised upwards twice, with a total increase of 1.2 per cent.

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UK service sector continues expansion but starts to slow

The UK service sector continued to expand at the start of 2017 but saw the slowest rise in output since October, new figures have shown. According to the latest purchasing managers’ index (PMI) survey from IHS Markit
and Chartered Institute of Procurement and Supply (CIPS), business expectations also improved to their strongest levels since May 2016.

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