Week commencing 29 August 2017

In today's bulletin

• Off-site manufactured homes given boost by London Assembly
• Over 42,000 housing planning applications submitted this year

• Government commits £11m funding to greener buses scheme
• Energy network companies to collaborate for joint innovation strategies

Property, Planning and Regeneration

Off-site manufactured homes given boost by London Assembly

Factory manufactured homes could make a significant contribution to solving London’s housing crisis, a new report by the London Assembly’s Planning Committee has claimed. Published on 31 August, ‘Designed, Sealed, Delivered: The contribution of off-site manufactured homes to solving London’s housing crisis’ argues that factory manufacturing can deliver
housing rapidly for a wide range of needs, particularly on sites that are otherwise constrained. It concludes that the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, should use his powers to encourage the growth of the sector through new design codes and procurement processes, as well as examining its potential use on surplus TfL land.

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Over 42,000 housing planning applications submitted this year

A record number of planning applications for new housing in London have been submitted in the first half of 2017, analysis from the Fifty Thousand Homes campaign has revealed. Applications submitted in the first half of the year represent an increase of 38 per cent on the average rate since 2010. The campaign group also believes that London has the chance to deliver
a “bumper year for housebuilding”, with 15,000 homes already complete in the first half of the year and a greater number expected in the second half given past trends. London’s need for homes is generally understood to be around 50,000 per year.

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Planning applications to cost taxpayers £1 billion

UK council taxpayers will be subsidising the cost of processing planning applications to the tune of £1 billion over the next five years to 2022. New analysis published on 31 August by the Local Government Association (LGA) asserts that local authorities have been unable to recover the costs of
up to a third of all applications owing to a shortfall caused by nationally set planning fees. Since the last time the fees were increased in 2012, this figure has risen to £200 million per year, which the LGA has warned may affect the ability of planning departments to stimulate regional housing growth.

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New affordable home registrations rise

The number of new affordable homes registered to be built in the UK grew by 27 per cent in the three months to July compared with the same period last year, the latest new home registration statistics from the National House Building Council (NHBC) have revealed. The NHBC credited the rise to a
number of larger housing associations developing homes for market rent, private sale and shared ownership, along with a rise in joint ventures with the private sector. Published on 30 August, the figures revealed that total new home registrations for July were 11,774 – a 12 per cent increase on last July.

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Councils warn of looming secondary school crisis

Nearly half of local authorities are at risk of failing to meet demand for secondary school places within the next five years, according to new analysis from the Local Government Association (LGA) released on 1 September. The LGA, which represents 370 councils across England and Wales, claims that more than 125,000 children could miss out on school places by 2022
if councils are not urgently given more powers to build new schools and force existing academies and free schools to expand. Currently, while councils have a duty to ensure places for every child, decisions about new schools must be ratified by central government.

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Housing market continues to cool

Annual house price growth dropped from 2.9 per cent in July to 2.1 per cent in August, according to Nationwide’s monthly House Price Index, with the average price of a UK house now standing at £210,495.
The index also revealed that revenues from stamp duty land tax have reached an all time high, tallying £12.8 billion in the 12 months to the second quarter of this year.

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Average house prices to increase 56 per cent by 2027

Average house prices in the UK will hit £347,757 in the next ten years even if current trends for subdued growth continue, research published on 31 August by online estate agency eMoov has claimed. Prices have risen by 0.37 per cent on average each month since the EU referendum, but if current growth trends continue this would lead to a national average increase of 56 per cent
over the next decade. The recent slowdown in the London market means the Capital would experience one of the lowest value increases (24 per cent), while properties in Cardiff, Edinburgh and Oxford are set to more than double in value by 2027.

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Government commits £11m funding to greener buses scheme

Six local authorities and bus companies in England and Wales have been awarded £11m of funding under the government’s Low Emission Bus Scheme. Bus users in Bristol, York, Brighton, Surrey, Denbighshire and Wiltshire will benefit from ‘cleaner and greener’ journeys with the roll out of new low
emission buses. The funding, granted on 28 August, will enable the successful bidders to buy 153 new electric and gas buses, as well as install stations to fuel or charge them.

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Planes powered by landfill?

Aircraft taking off from British airports could be fuelled by waste from landfill sites if a new government scheme achieves its objectives. On 28 August, the Department for Transport announced that it would be offering funding for projects in the UK to develop low carbon, waste-based fuels for planes and
lorries, as part of plans to promote clean alternative fuels. The government has predicted that powering planes and lorries by waste fuels could use up to 90 per cent less carbon than traditional fossil fuels.

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Devolution leads to better public transport

Scandinavian countries have improved their public transport services as a result of devolution, according to a report commissioned by the Urban Transport Group. Published on 29 August, ‘The Scandinavian Way to Better Public Transport’ highlights the benefits of devolution to local and
national public transport throughout Denmark, Sweden and Norway, including improved frequency of service and better value for money. The report notes that these benefits were achieved through the greater autonomy awarded to local authorities to develop transport networks.

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100 charging stations set for streets of Oxford

Oxford is set to welcome the “first on-street charging pilot of its size in the world” after the City and County Councils unveiled plans to provide 100 publically accessible vehicle charging stations across the city. Announced on
28 August, the initiative has been made possible in part due to a £800,000 Go Ultra Low Cities grant. The scheme will involve 30 charging stations being installed at first with further permanent stations expected to be installed in 2018.

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Highways England reappoints chairman

Colin Matthews has been reappointed as chairman of Highways England, the company announced on 1 September. Mr Matthews became chairman of the company’s predecessor, Highways Agency, in July 2014 and retained the role
when the new company was formed. Mr Matthews will continue to oversee Highways England operations including delivering the government’s £15 billion Road Investment Strategy.

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Energy and environment

Energy network companies to collaborate for joint innovation strategies

Plans for joint strategies to improve the UK’s gas and electricity networks were announced by the Energy Networks Association (ENA) on 31 August. The innovation plans will aim to improve battery storage, local renewable energy generation and low-carbon heat sources as the member companies look to
meet Ofgem’s requirements for smarter energy grids, reduced carbon emissions and financial benefits for customers. ENA will consult on the strategies before submitting plans to Ofgem in March 2018.

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