Week commencing 23 November 2015

In today's bulletin

• Planning best practice can help to tackle housing crisis
• Delivery of new homes stays flat in Q3

• Investment in railways set to continue
• UK interest rates to remain low ‘for some time’

Property, Planning and Regeneration

Planning best practice can help to tackle housing crisis

The planning system should adopt a proactive and positive approach to delivering development that will ‘support the UK economy and improve quality of life’, according to a report commissioned by The Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI). Published on 23 November 2015 and conducted by researchers at the University of Liverpool, Planning as a ‘market maker’: How planning is used to
stimulate development in Germany, France and the Netherlands uses studies from across Europe to argue that strong planning institutions, cross-boundary strategic planning and upfront investment in infrastructure are among the tools needed to deliver much-needed housing faster and better.

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Call for private investment in healthcare real estate

Greater investment in healthcare real estate by the private sector could benefit the NHS, according to the British Property Federation’s (BPF) Quality Buildings, Quality Care report released on 24 November. The study found that private investment could save the NHS money and lower the annual mortality rate by nearly 3,000 deaths.
The report calls on the Government and the NHS to work more closely with the development sector to deliver healthcare real estate and argues that local authorities should make greater provision for easily accessible and well-connected healthcare sites in local plans. .

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Construction output forecasts downgraded

The Construction Products Association (CPA) has revised down its estimates for construction industry output growth in its Autumn Forecast to 3.6 per cent in 2015 and 3.8 per cent in 2016. The CPA had previously estimated output growth rates of 4.9 per cent in 2015 and 4.2 per cent in 2016 in its Summer Forecast. The latest revisions, published on 23 November, come in the wake of data issued
by the Office for National Statistics indicating that construction output fell by 2.2 per cent in Q3 2015 compared to Q2; the CPA has subsequently attributed the weak third quarter to a slowdown in housing and commercial activity. However, the CPA maintains that construction output will experience long-term growth of 19.7 per cent between 2015 and 2019

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Delivery of new homes stays flat in Q3

The delivery of new homes remained flat in the third quarter of 2015, with 36,219 new homes registered compared with 36,955 for the same period in 2014. The latest figures from the National House Building Council (NHBC) show that homes delivered by the private sector were down one per cent to 28,527, while those delivered by the public sector were down four per cent to 7,692. However,
a slow August and September were followed by a 17 per cent increase in registrations in October (when compared with the previous year), as builders registered new homes ahead of a 3.5 per cent Insurance Premium Tax increase on 1 November.

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Pace of house price growth easing

House prices increased by 0.1 per cent in November but the pace of growth dropped to 3.7 per cent, down from 3.9 per cent in October, according to the Nationwide House Price Index published on 26 November.
While the slower price growth will benefit buyers, Nationwide notes that more still needs to be done to ensure the construction of the 220,000 homes required annually to satisfy demand over the next decade.

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Spending on local roads at lowest level for over ten years

The Royal Automobile Club (RAC) Foundation has claimed that capital spending on England’s local roads, which currently stands at £1.8 billion per annum, has reached its lowest ebb since 2001/2. Published on 24 November, the RAC’s report, The condition of England’s local roads and how they
are funded, is highly critical of the Government’s current approach to funding local roads, suggesting that the overly complex system inhibits a properly targeted management programme.

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Investment in railways set to continue

The majority of Network Rail’s funding programme can go ahead as planned and no infrastructure projects need to be cancelled following a review by the company’s new chairman. In his report published on 25 November, Sir Peter Hendy advised that some aspects of the investment and
upgrade programme will take longer than previously predicted, describing the original plan as “unrealistic and undeliverable”, but that the majority of the programme will be delivered by 2019.

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Energy and environment

Green Investment Bank reaches £10 billion milestone

The Green Investment Bank (GIB) was revealed on 24 November as the most active investor in the UK’s renewable energy and energy efficiency industries. Since launching three years ago, the London and Edinburgh-based GIB has committed £2.3 billion to 58 green infrastructure projects with
a total value of £10.1 billion. Other achievements include raising the UK’s largest renewable energy fund, while the GIB is also about to reveal its first overseas investment in a joint venture with the Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC).

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Other News

UK interest rates to remain low ‘for some time’

The Governor of the Bank of England, Mark Carney announced to the Treasury Committee on 24 November that UK interest rates, which have been held at 0.5 per cent since March 2009, are likely to
remain low “for some time”. Mr Carney remained vague as to when an increase might be expected; the majority of economists do not anticipate a rise in interest rates until mid-2016 at the earliest.

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Government announces new Enterprise Zones

18 new Enterprise Zones designed to boost local businesses and employment rates were announced by the Government on 25 November. The new zones are spread throughout England and include Aylesbury Vale (Buckinghamshire Thames Valley LEP),
Heart of the South West (Heart of the South West LEP) and Cambridge Compass (Greater Cambridge and Greater Peterborough LEP), while eight pre-existing zones are to be extended.

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