Week commencing 26 August 2019

In today's bulletin

• Proposed changes to shared ownership
• Green transport to receive £300m boost

• 2.8 GW of offshore wind extensions to progress
• £10 million grant launched to help businesses prepare for Brexit

Property, Planning and Regeneration

Proposed changes to shared ownership

Plans for a revised model of shared ownership were unveiled by the Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government on 28 August.
The proposals would make it easier for shared ownership homeowners to own more of their home, enabling them to purchase shares in increments as low as one per cent. The Government is consulting on the plans – which also include moves to give homeowners greater control in the ultimate sale of their home – until 29 September.

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More towns set to benefit from High Street Fund

The Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government announced on 26 August that the Future High Streets Fund – first launched in December last year – will be extended to an additional 50 towns.
The £1 billion fund aims to ‘re-energise and transform’ high streets and is part of the Government’s plans to drive growth of the country’s regional economies. Dudley, Dover and Scarborough are among the towns now set to benefit.

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New home numbers drop in July

The National House Building Council (NHBC) has reported a nine per cent year-on-year decline in the number of homes registered to be built in July. Figures published on 29 August show some 14,262 new homes were registered, compared to 15,719 a year ago.
Although July’s monthly total was lower than the same time last year, the quarterly total from May to July is up two per cent on the corresponding period in 2018. There were mixed regional figures, but London continued its upturn with a 21 per cent increase on last year.

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Help to Buy changes make long-term borrowing easier

Help to Buy homeowners will be able to spread their borrowing over a longer period under changes announced by the Minister of State for Housing, the Rt Hon Esther McVey MP, on 28 August.
The changes enable those using the scheme to take out 35-year mortgages, reflecting a trend observed in the wider property market as first-time buyers look to spread repayment of mortgages over longer periods.

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ONS data shows downward revisions in household projections

A new comparison of 2014-based and 2016-based household projections has revealed 1.4 million fewer households for England by 2039.
Data from the Office for National Statistics, released on 27 August, shows over 80 per cent of local authorities in the UK had their projected number of households reduced in 2016 revisions, with the largest decreases in London.

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Proposed reforms could see wider 5G infrastructure deployment

On 27 August the Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government (MHCLG) and Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS) launched a joint consultation on proposed reforms to permitted development rights.
Under the new plans, mobile network operators would have more flexibility in deployment of the infrastructure needed for 5G, enabling the extension of mobile coverage, including in rural areas, to benefit communities and businesses.

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Green transport to receive £300m boost

Developers of sustainable transport alternatives will receive £300 million in additional funding under plans announced by the Secretary of State for Transport, the Rt Hon Grant Shapps MP, on 24 August.
£125 million from the Government, combined with industry investment of £175 million – totalling £300 million – will go towards new technologies such as flying urban taxis, electric passenger planes and freight-carrying drones. It was also announced that a range of five new transport research networks, led by leading universities across the UK, will receive £5 million in funding to develop fuel alternatives and ways to reduce emissions.

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Energy and Environment

2.8 GW of offshore wind extensions to progress

The Crown Estate has confirmed that 2.85 GW of new capacity, across seven projects, will be awarded rights. The news comes following the completion of the Habitats Regulations Assessment (HRA) for the 2017 project extension applications.
Developers of the seven extensions will now progress with specific environmental assessments and surveys before seeking planning consent for their projects, which include Sheringham Shoal offshore wind farm, Dudgeon offshore wind farm and Thanet offshore wind farm.

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Biomass top of renewable energy sources

The burning of organic material from plants, trees and animals to produce energy is the biggest renewable energy source in the UK. Research published by the Office for National Statistics on 30 August showed this material – including millions of tonnes of imported wood pellets from the USA and Canada – contributes to the primacy of biomass as an energy source.
However, the combustion of biomass is not greenhouse emission free and can be more polluting than traditional fossil fuels such as coal or gas depending on the biomass.

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Government urged to prioritise energy and infrastructure

The National Engineering Policy Centre – a new partnership between 39 UK engineering organisations – has set out a number of recommendations for the Government to ensure the country remains successful and prosperous.
Its report, Engineering priorities for our future economy and society, which was published on 6 August, urges the Government to invest in clean energy technologies and deliver on the recommendations of the National Infrastructure Assessment, pointing to engineering as central to this. It calls for greater investment in skills, digital technology and research and development to increase productivity in the sector.

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Other News

£10 million grant launched to help businesses prepare for Brexit

The Rt Hon Andrea Leadsom MP, Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, announced on Thursday 29 August the Business Readiness Fund, a £10 million grant to help businesses prepare for Brexit.
The grant is available to trade associations and business organisations so they can hold events, provide training and give advice to members and non-members on the steps they should take to be ready for Britain leaving the European Union on 31 October.

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