Week commencing 18 April 2017

In today's bulletin

• Industrial Strategy criticised for narrow approach
• New powers for city regions fail to address local housing shortages

• Government reveals £1.2bn cycling and walking strategy
• Clean energy could power Industrial Strategy

Property, Planning and Regeneration

Industrial Strategy criticised for narrow approach

The government’s Industrial Strategy is too centralised and misses the chance to present a comprehensive national policy, according to the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI). In a statement issued on 18 April, the RTPI expressed particular concern over the lack of detail to help meet housing need and
tackle the environmental challenges facing the UK, with Head of Policy and Research, Richard Blyth, describing “crucial missing links” between different policy plans.

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New powers for city regions fail to address local housing shortages

New ‘metro mayors’ will lack the powers needed to tackle regional housing shortages, according to a new report by the Smith Institute. The think-tank’s Halfway House study, released on 20 April, argues that future mayors will lack the authority and resources to adapt national policies to fit local circumstances and build enough new homes to meet demand.
While the report concedes that mayors may have an impact on local housing shortages by implementing a joined-up, strategic approach, it recommends that further powers should be devolved, including greater borrowing and larger budgets to support housing and growth.

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Construction output surpasses post-Brexit expectations

The construction industry is performing better than expected following the EU referendum. The latest predictions from the Construction Products Association (CPA) show that industry output is forecast to grow by 1.3 per cent in 2017, 1.2 per cent in 2018 and 2.3 per cent in 2019.
The CPA believes that infrastructure projects will drive much of the growth in construction, largely thanks to the government’s £300 billion National Infrastructure and Construction Pipeline.

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UK house price growth to reach 2.2 per cent

Average UK house price growth will reach 2.2 per cent in 2017, which will see the average home worth £210,400 by the end of the year. Research from BNP Paribas Real Estate predicts that London house prices are forecast to return to growth this year, rising by 1.3 per cent in 2017 and reversing the decline
reported by the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) during the 12 months to February. In the longer term, the research projected a price increase of 6.8 per cent over the next four years, bringing the average house price to £505,297 by 2021.

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Accidental landlords sat on “property goldmine”

There could be as many as 360,000 “accidental landlords” in the UK who are unaware of the value of their properties, research by student lettings site StudentTenant.com has revealed. The company states that one in four UK landlords may fall into the “accidental” category, which it defines as those who became a landlord without consciously deciding to join the buy-to-let
market, such as parents who have purchased somewhere for their child to live while at university. With the average UK house price increasing by almost 18 per cent over the last decade, these owners could now be sat on a “property goldmine” should they decide to cash in their investments.

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Government reveals £1.2bn cycling and walking strategy

Cycling and walking should become the natural choice for short journeys by 2040, if measures included in the government’s £1.2 billion investment strategy are successful. Published on 21 April by the Department for Transport (DfT), the Cycling and Walking Investment Strategy aims to double
cycling activity, reduce accidents and get 55 per cent of five to ten year olds walking to school by 2025. The plan includes £389 million of new funding for councils to invest in walking and cycling schemes, as well as £101m to improve cycling infrastructure.

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Regional infrastructure investment can boost UK productivity

As much as £175 billion could be added to the UK economy by 2024 with upgrades to regional infrastructure, according to a new report from the Confederation of British Industry (CBI). Shaping Regional Infrastructure, published on 19 April, concludes that strengthening road, rail and aviation infrastructure in England’s regions would lead to a boost in productivity and
help connect businesses to international markets, allowing better access to wider supply chains and labour pools. The findings also highlighted wide discrepancies in regional output, with the most efficient area almost three times more productive than the least, and claimed that nine out of ten UK cities are less productive than the European average.

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New Department for Transport Permanent Secretary appointed

The DfT confirmed Bernadette Kelly CB as its new Permanent Secretary in an announcement on 18 April. Mrs Kelly was promoted to the department’s most senior role, having previously held the post of Director General, Rail Group,
since September 2015. The appointment comes as previous incumbent, Philip Rutnam, took up a new position at the Home Office in February.

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Energy and environment

Clean energy could power Industrial Strategy

The government should put wind, wave and tidal energy at the heart of its Industrial Strategy, RenewableUK has urged. On 18 April, the professional body representing the UK’s wind and marine renewables industries responded to the government’s consultation on the Strategy by insisting that renewable
energy generation can provide both affordable power and clean growth. RenewableUK suggested the green energy sector offers opportunities for the UK to secure valuable contracts in the growing export market for manufacturing and services.

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Green Investment Bank sold to Macquarie Group

The sale of the Green Investment Bank to the Macquarie Group is expected to trigger £3 billion of new investment into the green economy over the next three years, the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy has claimed. Announcing on 20 April that the Green Investment Bank had been
sold in a deal worth £2.3 billion, Nick Hurd MP, Minister for UK Climate Change and Industry, said: “It now makes sense to move [the bank] into the private sector where it will be free from the constraints of public sector ownership, allowing it to build further on its success.”

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