Week commencing 15 May 2017

In today's bulletin

• RTPI calls for further reforms in reaction to Housing White Paper
• UK student housing provides key investment opportunity

• London City digitises air traffic control operations
• Liverpool windfarm shores up UK position as world leader in wind technology

Property, Planning and Regeneration

UK house prices fall in month to March

The average price of a house in the UK was 0.6 per cent lower in March than February this year, according to the Office of National Statistics’ (ONS) monthly bulletin, House Price Index, UK: March 2017. Released on Tuesday 16 May, the ONS figures also show that the annual increase to March
2017 was 4.1 per cent – down on the 5.6 per cent growth seen in the 12 months to February 2017. Scotland’s yearly growth lagged behind that of the other UK countries, with Northern Ireland remaining the cheapest country in the UK for homebuyers.

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RTPI calls for further reforms in reaction to Housing White Paper

The Government should do more to allow local authorities to compulsorily purchase land and capture the increase in value that is often the result of public investment in accompanying infrastructure, according to the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI). On Wednesday 17 May, the RTPI published its official response to the Housing White Paper, and outlined how making better
use of the powers of development corporations in the New Towns Act could help to capture land value. The RTPI also supports expanding the rights of local authorities to sell land with planning consent they have granted themselves, as well as being able to apply for permission on land they do not own.

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Construction costs continue to rise in the capital

Construction costs in London are set to rise by 4.1 per cent in 2017, fuelled by strong demand for infrastructure work and skills shortages in the UK, according to new research by professional services company Turner & Townsend. The International Construction Market Survey 2017 (ICMS), published on Tuesday 16 May, calls for increased investment in innovative
technologies, new construction methods and better use of data to manage costs and boost productivity in the sector. London, which ranked third in the 2016 report, has fallen to fifth place behind New York, San Francisco, Zurich and Hong Kong, despite costs in the city soaring by 5 per cent over the past twelve months. The drop in ranking reflects the depreciation of the UK pound against the US dollar since the EU referendum.

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Londoners prioritise design and specification over location

Developers and buyers alike are increasingly considering the design and specifications of new housing, according to Knight Frank’s London Development Design Study (Spring 2017), released on Monday 15 May. The study, produced collaboratively with cost consultants Core Five and MSMR Architects, says that developers ought to seek to optimise layouts and private
amenity space, along with providing broadband access, underground car parking and concierge services, as means to increase the desirability of new homes. The findings support a trend of London’s housing market becoming more ‘product-led’ with developers focusing more on high-quality, prime developments outside of the capital’s traditional ‘golden postcodes’.

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Homeowners concerned by ‘broken’ leasehold system

Half of UK adults are deeply concerned about the current leasehold system, according to the 2017 Homeowners Survey from the Homeowners Alliance (HOA). Rising house prices, strict mortgage criteria and increased regulation are all contributing to homebuyers’ concerns, according to the HOA.
The alliance is calling for the Government to take steps to better protect homebuyers, claiming that banks are currently playing this role by limiting their lending on leasehold homes.

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UK student housing provides key investment opportunity

Investment in UK student housing is increasing rapidly, making the sector a key global market, according to new research by Savills. In its latest Student Housing Spotlight, published on Monday 15 May, Savills predicts that £5.3 billion will be invested in student housing – a 17 per cent year-on-
year increase, reflecting a 10 per cent increase in the number of student beds. The UK’s decision to leave the European Union does not seem to have affected investment levels, although Savills warns that uncertainty over the future of EU students post-Brexit could dent the market.

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Manchester tops the list of best regional cities for creatives

Manchester is the UK’s leading regional market for nourishing creative industries, according to Creative Regions 2017, a new report by CBRE. Published on Monday 15 May, the study reveals the UK’s best locations outside of London for sectors such as publishing, film, TV and media. The
cities were judged on 15 metrics, including the number of creative businesses in the area and the depth of the local talent pool. Reading was ranked in second place, followed by Edinburgh, Cambridge and Glasgow. Bracknell and Slough also featured in the top 25.

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Institute of Directors calls for further airport expansion to target the South East

The Institute of Directors has called for two additional runways in the South East to support the planned expansion of Heathrow, claiming that the Government’s “dawdling” on airport capacity issues has led to the UK losing ground to European rivals. A second Airports Commission should be launched immediately after June’s election and it ought to be pushed
to report its findings within a year, according to the group for professional leaders. The institute also urged the next Government to create a national database of UK roads, to assist asset management by detailing traffic flow, accidents, costs and air pollution.

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London City digitises air traffic control operations

London City Airport will replace its air traffic control tower with a new 50m tall digital tower, allowing controllers to direct planes using a web of high-definition cameras from a control centre over 120 miles away. The digital system, the first of its kind in the UK, is due to be completed in 2018 and includes a new safety feature that will enable the cameras to identify
rogue drones near the airport. An extended terminal building has also been announced as part of London City Airport’s £350 million upgrade scheme, with the aim of increasing capacity by two million additional passengers per year by 2025.

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Driverless cars just five years away

Latest research has backed the makers of completely driver-free cars to have their vehicles on public roads within the next five years. Global Autonomous Driving Market Outlook, 2017, a report from Frost & Sullivan published on Tuesday 9 May, claims that “robot taxis” could be a commercial reality
by 2020, and cars requiring no human input (known as ‘level five automated’) could be here as soon as 2022. The mid-point of ‘level three automation’, whereby a person takes control of the car in emergency situations, could be reached next year.

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Energy and environment

Liverpool windfarm shores up UK position as world leader in wind technology

The UK has confirmed its position as a global pioneer in wind technology as the world’s most powerful wind turbines were officially switched on last week at the Burbo Bank extension windfarm in Merseyside. The new farm is capable of meeting the electricity needs of over 230,000 homes. Dong Energy,
the developer behind the farm, said that the new larger, 8MW turbines marked an important milestone for offshore wind power, showcasing the rapid scale-up in wind technology which is helping to drive down power generation costs.

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UK trails comparable countries on air pollution

The United Kingdom has a higher mortality rate attributed to air pollution than many European and other developed western nations, according to new analysis from the World Health Organisation (WHO). Published on Wednesday 17 May, the World Health Statistics 2017 report revealed that dirty air and toxic emissions accounted for an average of 25.7 deaths per 100,000 in the UK,
leaving it trailing far behind nations including France (17.2), Spain (14.7) the USA (12.1) and Sweden (0.4). The WHO has estimated that up to three million deaths per year are caused globally by poor quality air, with the likes of India (133.7 deaths per 100,000) and China (161.1) among the most polluted.

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