Week commencing 3 April 2017

In today's bulletin

• Record housing completions still not enough
• Majority of local planning authorities fail to see ‘strategic-level’ plans through

• Councils empowered to speed up brownfield development
• Strongest growth in services sector activity so far in 2017

Property, Planning and Regeneration

Councils empowered to speed up brownfield development

Councils will have powers to speed up development of new homes on derelict and under-used land, Gavin Barwell MP, Minister of State for Housing and Planning at the Department for Communities and Local Government
(DCLG), confirmed on 3 April. Local authorities will now have to produce and maintain up-to-date brownfield registers to help housebuilders identify suitable sites for new homes.

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UK construction slows with housing

A weaker housing sector has led to a slowdown in activity for UK construction, according to the latest Markit/CIPS survey published on 4 April. The survey also pointed towards an only marginal increase in new work, which contributed to slower employment growth and a slight decline
in materials buying. Figures showed that despite a loss of momentum in housing activity, work on civil engineering projects was at the fastest rate so far in 2017.

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Record housing completions still not enough

The number of new homes being built in London is to reach new heights in 2017, based on research from Savills, published on 4 April. According to the estate agency, total net completions are expected to peak at 46,500 homes this year.
However, Savills warns this is still well short of demand, which it estimates to be around 64,000 homes per year. Over the longer term, Savills predicts completions will fall sharply, forecasting just 18,000 by 2021.

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Sadiq Khan announces 20,000 new homes for London in landmark deal

Sadiq Khan, the Mayor of London, announced a partnership with one of the capital’s largest housing associations, L&Q, on 6 April. It was the Mayor’s first agreement following a record-breaking £3.15 billion affordable housing deal
struck with Government in November. This partnership will see £8 billion invested in 20,000 new homes across the capital – 12,000 of which the Mayor promised will be “genuinely affordable”.

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Majority of local planning authorities fail to see ‘strategic-level’ plans through

Analysis by London-based bespoke property company, Lichfields, reveals that fewer than four in 10 Local Planning Authorities (LPAs) have seen a ‘strategic-level’ local plan through from examination to adoption. The Lichfields report, Planned and deliver: local plan-making under the NPPF 2017,
published on 6 April, states that 43 per cent of LPAs in England, outside of London, are still yet to publish a draft local plan ready for submission to Government.

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CBI seek to improve collaboration and digitisation across the sector

The Confederation of British Industry (CBI) has formed a Future Leaders’ Group, comprising of 18 rising stars of the construction industry. The group has been created to bring a fresh and innovative approach to the industry, helping to meet challenges like the Government’s aims on housing, roads, rail and nuclear. Recommendations for improved collaboration and digitisation
within the sector are anticipated in the Future Leaders’ Group report, due in November. The report is expected to be reviewed and agreed by the 35-strong forum of chief executives at the CBI, before being passed on to the Construction Leadership Council, and relevant ministers.

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New charge proposed for most polluting vehicles

The Mayor of London has proposed the introduction of an Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) in central London, which will impose a further charge on heavy diesel vehicles using local roads. The new initiative, which would cover the same area as the existing congestion charge, would increase
the existing price from £12.50 to £24 per day for non-compliant cars. Consultation on the current proposals will end in June and the new charges are likely to come into force from April 2019.

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Councils bid for share of £490m road improvement fund

Councils have been invited to bid for funding for schemes to cut congestion on local roads, as part of a £490 million Government initiative. The bidding process opened on Thursday 6 April, with councils able to apply for
funding for schemes to be implemented between 2018 and 2020. Councils can apply for funding until 30 June.

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ORR publishes business plan for upcoming year

The Office of Rail and Road (ORR) has published its business plan for 2017-18, detailing six strategic objectives to protect the interests of road and rail users.
These include making railway services safer and ensuring value for money, in addition to making improvements to roads and to customer service procedures.

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Energy and environment

Renewables on the rise

Greenhouse gas emissions from electricity generation, transport, and the heating and cooling of buildings is decreasing due to the increased use of wind, solar and other renewable energy across the European Union, according to the Renewable energy in Europe 2017: recent growth and knock-on effects report published by the European Environment Agency
(EEA) on 3 April. The EEA report shows that the shared EU-wide use of renewable energy increased from 15 per cent in 2013 to 16.7 per cent in 2015, suggesting that the EU is on course to hit its renewables target of 20 per cent by 2020.

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Future for CCS as ETI recommends it as an option

Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) should continue to be a key option to help the UK achieve its legally binding 2050 carbon emissions targets, according to new information from the Energy and Technologies Institute (ETI) released on 3 April. ETI’s findings, based on 10 years research, suggest CCS is vital to meeting the UK’s future low carbon energy targets and keeping costs low.
To reach these targets the ETI suggests commercial CCS plant needs to be developed in the UK. In addition, ETI proposes that CCS could be effectively deployed in the UK with no more than six shoreline hubs and 20 offshore stores.

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Other News

Resilient growth in services sector

The UK’s dominant services sector beat economists’ expectations in March. The sector, which accounts for three-quarters of the UK economy, rose to 55 in the Markit/CIPS purchasing managers’ index (PMI), published on 5 April, compared to the anticipated increase of 53.5.
The latest index showed continued cost pressures on businesses led to the fastest rise in prices charged by service sector firms since September 2008.

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