Week commencing 21 August 2017

In today's bulletin

• DCLG announces housebuilding boost
• RTPI calls for increased local planning investment

• Could super-fast forecourts replace the nation’s petrol stations to help electric vehicle transition?
• 139 countries could be solely powered by renewable energy by 2050

Property, Planning and Regeneration

UK serviced office take-up increases 176 per cent

There has been a large increase in the take up of office space this year, particularly in Central London, according to information released by Savills this month. The 176 per cent increase compared to the same period in 2016 has been put down, in part, to the expansion of the tech sector and an
increase in start-ups. With the serviced office market continuing to expand, competition between operators could intensify, with the potential for some consolidation and more landlords entering the market.

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DCLG housebuilding figures up year-on-year

According to figures released by the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) on 24 August, housing completions were up two per cent on the previous quarter and increased 15 per cent from the same time last year.
In comparison, work beginning on new homes has decreased three per cent from last quarter, but remained 10 per cent higher than figures from the same time last year.

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RTPI calls for increased local planning investment

The Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) has claimed that “years of under-investment” has hampered the ability of local planning departments to carry out strategic and proactive planning.
The RTPI now intends to carry out research to investigate how this situation can be improved, with specific concentration on the north-west and south-east regions.

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Uncertainty leading to cuts to specialist housing schemes

A survey by the National Housing Federation published on 25 August suggests housing associations have cut plans to build vital new sheltered and extra care housing. Indecision around the future income for housing associations has been blamed for the drop in planned extra care housing from 8,800 to
1,350 units. A 2010 study for the Homes and Communities Agency estimated that supported housing for older people and people with long-term disabilities saves the taxpayer around £3.5bn in NHS costs each year.

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100 per cent affordable scheme to be delivered in Waltham Forest

On 24 August, Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, announced a development with 100 per cent affordable homes for first-time buyers in Waltham Forest. This announcement comes ahead of the Mayor setting out his plans for City Hall taking a greater role in intervening in land decisions across the capital. The former Webbs Industrial Estate has been earmarked for 330 ‘genuinely’
affordable and shared ownership homes, as well as 3,000 square metres of affordable workspace studios, retail space and a park area. The site, which attracted a City Hall record of 13 bidders, was awarded to Catalyst who will be working with Swan Housing Association and C.F. Møller Architects to deliver the scheme.

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Average driver wastes almost £1,000 and spends five days in traffic a year

A report published by the Local Government Association (LGA) on 19 August, A country in a jam: tackling congestion in our towns and cities, explores how councils are dealing with congestion and how they can do more. The report reveals that the average driver wastes £968 and spends 4.9 days stuck
in traffic on major roads each year, with the LGA warning that congestion no longer just threatens the environment and quality of air, but the economy and productivity too. The report estimates that congestion will cost the economy £307 billion between 2013 to 2030.

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Could super-fast forecourts replace the nation’s petrol stations to help electric vehicle transition?

An article on Clean Energy News has explored National Grid’s latest report on electric vehicle (EV) infrastructure, Forecourt Thoughts. It focuses on how the required charging infrastructure could create ‘pinch points’ and be a major obstacle for EVs. With only 14,441 public connectors spread across little
more than 5,000 locations across the country, the report suggests that replacing the nation’s petrol stations with super-fast EV forecourts could be a possible solution.

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Government says ‘platooning’ lorries could have major benefits for UK

In an article on gov.uk, from the Department for Transport, Highways England and Transport Minister, Paul Maynard MP, the Government announced £8.1 million of funding to enable trials to help lorries on motorways move a step closer to accelerating, braking and steering in sync through wireless technology. The ‘platooning’ trials will allow up to three heavy goods vehicles
to travel in convoy, with acceleration and braking controlled by the lead vehicle. If successful, the technology could have major benefits for UK motorists and businesses, with the front truck pushing air out of the way making the streamlined convoy more efficient, thereby lowering emissions and improving air quality.

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Energy and environment

139 countries could be solely powered by renewable energy by 2050

According to research from Stanford University, 139 countries could be powered solely by wind, water and solar power by 2050. The research suggests that the increased efficiency of renewable energy, compared to fossil fuels, could help reduce energy consumption, while also providing a net increase of 24 million jobs and slashing deaths related to air pollution by up to
seven million per year. The research also claims it would stabilise fluctuating energy prices, save more than $20 trillion (£15.6tn) in health and climate costs each year, and require around one per cent of total available land and rooftop areas.

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Significant milestone for global solar capacity

According to research from Greentech Media (GTM), solar PV could rival global nuclear capacity for the first time by the end of 2017. By the end of the year, global solar installations are expected to reach 390GW, compared to the 391.5GW of nuclear plants in operation.
It has been predicted that by 2022, global capacity could reach 871GW – about 43GW more than the expected cumulative output from wind energy by that date, and more than double today’s nuclear capacity.

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