Week commencing 20 March 2017

In today's bulletin

• New guidelines for Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects
• Housing shortage hampering economy

• Digital investment key to infrastructure performance
• Energy-related carbon emissions could be eradicated by 2060

Property, Planning and Regeneration

New guidelines for Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects

Large-scale developments brought forward as Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects (NSIPs) may be allowed to include up to 500 new homes if the homes are directly related to the development. New guidelines, published on 21 March by the Department for Communities and Local
Government (DCLG), explain that new housing can be approved as part of a Development Consent Order (DCO) if it helps meet a functional need of the infrastructure project, including housing for construction workers, or if it is on the same site or within one mile of the works.

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Funding to protect heritage sites

Historic England will provide six million pounds of funding in a bid to restore listed buildings and boost the economies of ten ‘heritage action zones’ – a concept which was announced in last year’s Culture White Paper. The funding, which will be delivered over the next three to five years, aims to unlock the untapped potential of listed buildings and bring in tourists,
businesses and investors to strengthen local economies. Historic England announced on 20 March that it will provide direct grant funding to local authorities, as well as skills training in spotting heritage potential and undertaking restoration work.

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Housing shortage hampering economy

A shortage of housing is restricting Britain’s economic growth, a report by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) has warned. Published on 17 March, Going for Growth includes recommendations from the international think tank to strengthen housing supply, including better provision of social housing and a relaxing of the
building regulations currently prohibiting development on the Green Belt. The report also warns of a lack of investment in infrastructure and research, urging the government to tackle the productivity crisis by spending more on education and expanding vocational training.

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UK top market for international retailer growth

The UK is being targeted by retailers as the prime market for store expansion within Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA), a survey by global property advisor CBRE has confirmed. The How Active are Retailers in EMEA? report, published on 21 March, identified that 65 per cent of retailers questioned were
seeking to increase their store networks in the UK, a higher proportion than any other market in the region. Nevertheless, large-scale retail growth is expected to slow, with 70 per cent of those surveyed suggesting that they planned to open 10 stores or fewer over the next 12 months.

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London slowdown holds back city house price growth

A fall in the average growth of house prices over the past year in UK cities has been driven by slowing turnover in high value cities, new results from Hometrack’s Cities House Price Index have shown.
London has seen growth more than halve, from 12.8 per cent to 5.6 per cent, as Manchester becomes the new leader for house price growth in cities, with annual growth of 8.8 per cent.

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UK House Price Index reveals positive growth

Property prices rose by 6.2 per cent in the year to January 2017 but fell short of the 7.4 per cent average annual growth seen in 2016, according to the most recent UK House Price Index. Published by the Office for National Statistics on 21 March, the data revealed that UK house prices averaged
£218,000 in January 2017, peaking in London where the average house cost £491,000. Growth rates were strongest in the East of England, which experienced average price rises of 9.4 per cent in the year to January 2017.

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Multi-million pound boost for hydrogen fuel

A new £23 million fund to encourage the uptake of hydrogen vehicles and the construction of related infrastructure was announced by the Department for Transport on 18 March. Funding will be available to hydrogen fuel providers and organisations that make hydrogen vehicles to support
partnership working aimed at building necessary infrastructure such as fuel stations. Under its plans to cut carbon emissions and improve air quality, the government has said that it will provide match funding for successful bidders.

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Digital investment key to infrastructure performance

Greater investment in digital delivery and smart infrastructure is vital to help future-proof the UK’s assets and meet the needs of a growing and ageing population, the Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) has argued in a new report. Published on 22 March, State of the Nation 2017: Digital Transformation calls on the government to use existing policy, such as the Modern Industrial
Strategy and the National Productivity Investment Fund, to drive a digital transformation in the infrastructure sector. ICE also stresses the need for digital training across the workforce and suggests that major infrastructure projects should be used to upskill employees and encourage innovation.

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Road building fails to deliver promised benefits

Road schemes are damaging the countryside and failing to relieve congestion and boost the local economy, according to new research published by the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE). The end of the road? challenges government claims that investment in road building brings economic benefits to the local area and reduces traffic. The research revealed that only one in
five schemes boosted jobs and the local economy. Traffic was also found to increase in newly-built road corridors, with new schemes adding to the pressure on surrounding roads. According to the research, 80 per cent of projects damaged the surrounding land.

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Energy and environment

Energy-related carbon emissions could be eradicated by 2060

Global carbon dioxide emissions caused by energy generation could be reduced by up to 70 per cent by 2050 and completely cut out by 2060, according to new findings released on 20 March by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA). Entitled Perspectives for the Energy Transition: Investment Needs for a Low-Carbon Energy Transition, the
agency’s report argues that the most severe impacts of climate change can be avoided by a combination of renewable energies and increasing commitment to energy efficiency. The study suggested that an additional 29 trillion USD is required to decarbonise the energy sector, but that this could boost global GDP by 0.8 per cent.

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