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Government launches call for evidence regarding home buying process

Government launches call for evidence regarding home buying process

23 October 2017

Communitise secretary Sajid Javid has also said he wants to ensure they do everything they could to encourage housebuilding, including borrowing at current low interest rates to invest in infrastructure that lead to housing delivery.

 

The call for evidence is seeking views on how to make the house buying process cheaper, faster and less stressful.  For full details, click here > 

 

Consultation closes 17 December 2017.

Business call for Brexit clarity

Business call for Brexit clarity

23 October 2017

Five of the UK's largest business lobbying groups have prepared a joint letter to David Davis, urging the Brexit secretary to secure an agreement for the transition period by Christmas. The signatories include the CBI, the Institute of Directors, British Chambers of Commerce, Federation of Small Businesses and the EEF, collectively representing firms that employ millions of people across the UK.

 

Businsesses say that certainty is needed for business to make decisions about investment and contingency plans, and that the transition plans should as far as possible remain on the same terms as the current relationship to minimise disruption.

Fitch Ratings foresee fall in London office values

Fitch Ratings foresee fall in London office values

23 October 2017

The report by Fitch Ratings suggests the London office market is currently overvalued, supported by supply shortages and the fall of the pound, which attracted overseas investment in prize assets.  The fall in prices have also been buffered by a more cautious approach by development companies that are able to control construction speed afforded by low interest rates.

 

Fitch Ratings anticipate a cyclical correction in 2018, with ongoing Brexit uncertainties and potential rise in interest rates.

 

Find out more about the Fitch Ratings report here>

Land Information Platform prototype launched

Land Information Platform prototype launched

19 October 2017

The digital tool, designed by Future Cities Cataput (FCC), merges data from Ordnance Survey and land registry along with information such as historic planning data and open government information. It could help local authorities with trategic planning and decision making, such as the ability to identify and prioritise land for development.

 

The Land Information Platform is part of a pilot planning commission by the DCLG to design tools that help speed up, reduce costs, and improve the quality and transparency of planning decisions.

London urban logistics requirement set to grow 42% by 2021

London urban logistics requirement set to grow 42% by 2021

19 October 2017

The London urban logistics requirement is projected to reach 13.3m sq ft by 2021.

 

The research by Cushman & Wakefield and P3 shows the current requirement to be  9.4m sq ft, far exceeding Berlin, the next largest Europoean market at 2.3m sq ft. 

Twelve post-war schools listed

Twelve post-war schools listed

18 October 2017

Historic England has announced the listing of 12 schools built after 1945, joining 50 schools on the register.  These include schools that were designed by local councils, including Hopton's Church of England school by West Suffolk County Council, Richmond Primary School by Leicester City Council and Plastic Classroom at Kennington Primary School, by Lancashire County Council, as well as by now-established architects, such as Fleet Infants School by Michael Hopkins and Partners, Archbishop Temple School by Building Design Partnership, and St Olave's Grammar School by RMJM.

 

Read more here >

Jobless rate unchanged at 4.3%

Jobless rate unchanged at 4.3%

18 October 2017

While unemployment fell by 52,000 between Mayto August 2017, total earnings excluding bonuses rose by 2.1%, the real value of earnings fell by 0.3% over the last year.  Tthe employment rate for people between 16-64 is currently at 75.1%, up from 74.5% last year.

 

Read the ONS report here >

 

Inflation hits 3%

Inflation hits 3%

18 October 2017

The Consumer Price Index (CPI) rose to 3% in September, the highest level since April 2012 and 0.9% above wage growth.  The September inflation rate determines the rise for basic state pension payments from April 2018.

 

The fall of the value of the pound has contributed to driving up cost of imported goods including food prices.  

 

The Bank of England expects the inflation to peak in the next two months.

Year to date West End office leasing activity surpasses 2016

Year to date West End office leasing activity surpasses 2016

12 October 2017

According to Savills, the year to date office take up in the West End through Sept 2017 has totalled 3.99 million sq ft, exceeding the annual take up of 3.97 m sq ft in 2016.  Tech and media occupiers have been the most active, with serviced office operators on the rise.

Hotel investment in UK increases

Hotel investment in UK increases

12 October 2017

Research by Savills and JLL have reported an increase in investment in UK hotel sector by over 25% compared to last year.  More than 30% of the investment come from overseas investors, which has been attributed to the opportunities afforded by the devaluation of the pound sterling.

Network Rail releases land in London and Southeast

Network Rail releases land in London and Southeast

12 October 2017

The sites, located in Bermondsey, Leyton, Edenbridge and Bickley, are being made available for mixed use development, including the potential for up to 300 residential units. This forms part of its target to release land to deliver 12,000 homes by 2020. 

 

Network Rail has also announced that it is changing the way it works with developers, with details to be published over the next six months.

Wales reform stamp duty

Wales reform stamp duty

6 October 2017

The Welch finance secretary Mark Drakeford has announced that it will replace stamp duty with land transactional tax, set to take effect April 2018.  The tax will operate in the same way as stamp duty, raising the minimum threshold to £150,000, as compared to £125,000 under the current system in Wales and England.

 

2.5% will be levied for properties between £150,000 - £250,000; 5% for £250,000 - £400,000; 7.5% for £400,000 - £750,000; 10% for £750,000 - £1.5m; and 12% for £1.5m+.

 

PM pledges £2bn for building council homes

PM pledges £2bn for building council homes

5 October 2017

In her speech at the Conservative Party conference, Theresa May has said that the government was dedicated to addressing the housing crisis and "back in the business" of building council homes.

 

The additional £2bn brings the government budget for building affordable housing to almost £9bn. 

 

Separately communities secretary Javid has confirmed a £2.5m cash boost towards the garden cities initiative, with aim to accelerate delivery of over 155,000 homes in 9 locally led developments across England.

Bank of England updates Approach to resolution

Bank of England updates Approach to resolution

3 October 2017

Providing an update to the 2014 version, the Bank of England's approach to resolution sets out precedures and rules to prevent future burden on taxpayers should a bank fail.   Among the new measures is to require foreign banks to create an "internal debt" system and UK banks will need to put away £116bn by 2022. The approach aims to encourage banks to operate with greater prudence, as the burden of losses are placed on its shareholders and investors.

 

Find out more about the updates here >

November budget to include £10bn for Help-to-Buy

November budget to include £10bn for Help-to-Buy

2 October 2017

The Prime Minister has said details of plans to fund the scheme helping first time buyers on to the property ladder will be outlined in the Budget.

 

At the party conference over the weekend, the Conservatives have also announced a four point plan to regulate the rental sector: to require landlords to be part of an ombudsman scheme; to require letting agents to be registered with an appropriate organisation; to put in place incentives for landords to offer tenancies of 12 months or more; and to consider the case for a new housing court. 

Neave Brown awarded RIBA Gold Medal

Neave Brown awarded RIBA Gold Medal

29 September 2017

The 2018 RIBA Gold Medal has been awarded to Neave Brown, who is best known in the UK for innovative high density, low massing housing schemes in the 1960s and 1970s.  Among his achievements, all three of his UK schemes have been listed: Winscombe Street (Grade II), Fleet Road (Grade II) and Alexandra Road Estate (Grade II*).

House prices dip in London for first time in 8 years

House prices dip in London for first time in 8 years

29 September 2017

According to Nationwide House Price Index, London posted an annual -0.6% change in Q3 2017, the worst performing region in the UK for the first time since 2005.  At £417,761, the average London house price remains well above the UK average of £210,982.

 

East Midlands has the highest annual % change in Q3, at 5.1%. Nationally, house prices grew by 2.2% in the last year.

 

Read the Nationwide House Price Index here >

Two new lease agreements for 4 Kingdom Street

Two new lease agreements for 4 Kingdom Street

28 September 2017

British Land has agreed leases for 30,300 sq ft over two floors with Mars and 15,150 sq ft with Sasol at 4 Kingdom Street.

 

89% of the building, completed in April 2017, has now been let. The remaining office space will be occupied by Storey, British Land's flexible office brand.

 

Read more about 4 Kingdom Street here >

Build to Rent sector grows 37% since Q1 2017

Build to Rent sector grows 37% since Q1 2017

28 September 2017

The British Federation of Property (BFP) reports that the number of BTR units completed, under construction or in planning has reached 95,918 units, up from 69,824 in the first three months of 2017. The growth is buoyed by BTR schemes in the regions, with 12,316 units under construction, compared to 11,696 in London.

 

More BFP info here >

Moody downgrades UK's credit rating

Moody downgrades UK's credit rating

25 September 2017

Moody's has downgraded UK's credit rating from Aa1 to Aa2, citing economic uncertainties around Brexit and public finances.  It has changed the country's long-term issuer and debt ratings from "negative" to "stable". 

 

The UK's credit ratings by other major agencies stand at AA with both Fitch and S&P.

May proposes two year post-Brexit transition

May proposes two year post-Brexit transition

22 September 2017

In the Brexit speech in Florence, the Prime Minister has outlined proposals to continue paying into the EU budget until 2020.  She has underscored commitment to EU security, rejected the jurisdiction of European Court of Justice, and confirmed the intention to seek a bespoke future trade relationship. 

 

Read the full text here > 

Numbers of local authority conservation and archaeology advisers drop

Numbers of local authority conservation and archaeology advisers drop

21 September 2017

The Ninth Report for Local Authority Resources published by Historic England, the Association of Local Government Archaeological Officers and Institute of Historic Building Conservation shows a 1% decline of numbers of conservation specialists and 3% decline in the number of archaeology specialists advising local authorities in the past 12 months, despite a rise of planning application and listed building consent decisions last year.  According to the report, this follows a downward pattern since 2006, which saw 37% and 35% drop in number of conservation and archaeology specialists respectively. 

 

See the report here >  

 

Javid announces comprehensive social housing review

Javid announces comprehensive social housing review

20 September 2017

Addressing the National Housing Federation, communities secretary Sajid Javid has announced the intention to publish a green paper on social housing. It will cover a wide range of issues including quality of social housing, management, tenant rights, roles of stakeholders and policy. 

 

Read the full speech here >

Consultation opens for NPPF housing amendments

Consultation opens for NPPF housing amendments

18 September 2017

Following the Housing White Paper issued earlier this year, the Department of Communities and Local Government's "Planning for the right homes in the right places: consultation proposals" sets out proposed changes in legislation to enable housing delivery.  The proposals include methods to calculate housing need, improving viability assessment methods, and potential increases in planning application fees.  

 

Consultations close 9th November 2017, with aim to published a revised NPPF in Spring 2018.  Review the consultation papers here >

 

 

Construction industry groups urge transitional access to EU workers

Construction industry groups urge transitional access to EU workers

15 September 2017

Nine construction industry associations have signed a letter to Brexit secretary David Davis to underscore the reliance on skilled workers from EU in the near term, while a clear strategy for boosting recruitment and training UK workers is developed and implemented.  It is estimated that 8% of the construction workers in the UK are EU citizens, up to c. 27% in London.

 

As well as transitional measures, the letter seeks ongoing arrangements to enable employment of EU migrant workers as necessary to plug skills gaps and shortages in the future.  Read the full letter here >

 

 

 

Grenfell inquiry opens

Grenfell inquiry opens

15 September 2017

The inquiry, chaired by Sir Martin Moore-Bick, will investigate the cause and spread of the fire and how the building became so exposed to fire risk. This will include review into design, construction, modifications over time, regulations and risk assessments, as well as the decision-making and management process. Response immediately following the tragedy will also be examined.

 

Read the chariman's full opening statement here >

 

The lastest information on the inquiry will be provided on www.grenfelltowerinquiry.org.uk

 

 

 

135 Bishopsgate secures planning consent

135 Bishopsgate secures planning consent

15 September 2017

The refurbishment for the British Land and GIC owned building, designed by Fletcher Priest, will add c. 3,500 sq m of retail without increasing the overall size of the building.  In addition, the proposals enhance the approach and access to the building, create green spaces and terraces at the upper levels and comprehensively refurbish the reception area and office space.

 

M3 is currently managing the strip out in preparation for the refurbishment works. 

 

Belfast office rents on the rise while London West end slides

Belfast office rents on the rise while London West end slides

14 September 2017

According to CBRE's Global Prime Office Rents survey, Hong Kong remains the the most expensive office market, with Hong Kong (Central) and Hong Kong (Kowloon), placing first and third respectively.  The survey shows the strongest growth in tech and media hubs, with co-working operators actively acquiring new space.

 

While London (West End) rents featured among the "Top 5 decrease", sliding by 12.5%, it nevertheless is ranked 6th most expensive in the world.  London (City) is the only other UK office market appearing in top 50, ranked 13th.  Meanwhile, Belfast is among the "Top 5 increases", up 14.3%.  Read more about the survey results here >

Bridging loans shows annualised growth since Brexit referendum

Bridging loans shows annualised growth since Brexit referendum

14 September 2017

West One's Bridging Index shows that the gross annualised lending rose to £4.3bn, approaching the pre-referendum high of £4.4bn in 2016.

 

Average bridging loan size over the last 24 months has been £900,000.

 

 

ONS reports construction activity fall in Q2 2017

ONS reports construction activity fall in Q2 2017

11 September 2017

The ONS has reported a 1.2% fall in construction output to July 2017. This is the fourth consecutive month where both month to month and 3-month by 3 month figures have fallen.  However, ONS says outputs remain at relatively high levels. 

 

The month on month decrease in volume were largely driven by falls in private housing and infrastructure.

 

Read more here > 

Government issues guidance on cladding safety

Government issues guidance on cladding safety

8 September 2017

The Government has asked local authorities to encourage owners of buildings over 18m to submit cladding samples for BRE testing to confirm cladding type and make contact with the Fire and Rescue service to receive advice on ensuring fire safety on their buildings.

 

The move follows test results for 173 social housing tower blocks with Aluminium Cladding Materials, in which only 8 passed fire safety building regulations.

 

 

 

Draft London Housing Strategy launched for consultation

Draft London Housing Strategy launched for consultation

7 September 2017

City Hall has issued the draft London Housing Strategy for consultation. Among headline interventions include the intention to earmark £250m towards buying and preparing land for housing development, and using City Hall's statutory powers to the fullest extent as necessary.  The Draft Strategy also sets out plans to diversify the housing sector, make it quicker and easier to develop smaller sites, and improving construction skills and capacity.

 

Consultation ends 7 December 2017.  To read the Draft Strategy, click here >

Crane strikes suspended

Crane strikes suspended

6 September 2017

The crane strike planned for 8th September has been called off following a revised offer by HTC Wolffkran that includes 6% pay increase over two years, additional annual leave and greater flexibility over Christmas period.  Unite members will be balloted on the revised offer by 15 September.

 

Taylor Wimpey buys Mount Pleasant development site

Taylor Wimpey buys Mount Pleasant development site

6 September 2017

The 6.25 acre site, purchased for over £190m, benefits from an extant planning permission for over 1 million sq ft of residential-led mixed use development that introduces 681 residential units, a series of neighbourhood square, retail and community space.

 

Read more about the project here >

GLA report: Embrace off site manufacturing

GLA report: Embrace off site manufacturing

4 September 2017

The London Assembly's report, Designed, sealed, delivered: The contribution of offsite manufactured homes to solving London's housing crisis, aligns with the recommendations made in the Farmer Review and housing white paper. Its key calls to action include developing a Manufactured Housing Design Code; supporting the industry through strategy and funding; and incorporating OSM housing on GLA owned land to help stimulate the sector. 

 

Read the report here >

NHS launches Vacant Space Handback Scheme

NHS launches Vacant Space Handback Scheme

1 September 2017

The scheme allows commissioners to identify and transfer liability for surplus non-PFI properties to NHS Property Services for letting, sale or redevelopment, with aim to divert costs saved from maintenance to other critical services. Among other criteria, the properties must have been transferred to NHS Property Services under the Health and Social Care Act of 2012, vacant, and over 100 sqm.

 

Read more here > 

Mail Rail ride set to open

Mail Rail ride set to open

1 September 2017

The eagerly awaited Mail Rail ride is set to open next week to visitors. Revitalising the disused Mail Rail system, which carried post from Paddington to Whitechapel for more than 75 years before it was decommissioned in 2003, the attraction forms part of the new archives and exhibitions at the new Postal Museum.  Tickets for the attraction have already sold out for two months.

 

Read more about the project here >

 

 

Value of PFI in question

Value of PFI in question

30 August 2017

Amidst reports that only 6 projects have been procured through the PF2 scheme since 2012, the Centre for Health and the Public Interest (CHPI) has published a report estimating that the NHS payout over the life of its 125 PFI contracts is in the region of £80.8bn, for assets with a total capital value of £12.4bn.  Noting that 8 companies hold 92% of the equity stakes in the PFI contracts, recommendations to curb profit making from PFI contracts include requiring greater transparency in equity sales to prevent further consolidation of market power and buying out PFI contracts with public sector loans.  Read the full report here >

 

The Department of Health has issued a statement indicating that the NHS spends less than 3% of its annual budget on PFI.

 

 

Crane strikes on for 8th September

Crane strikes on for 8th September

30 August 2017

Unite, the union representing more than 50 crane drivers, has announced a 24 hour strike on 8th September over a pay dispute with HTC Wolffkran.  HTC Wolffkran is the largest tower crane company in the UK.

 

Unite has stated that is open to holding further talks in order to avoid strike action.

 

 

 

Beijing issues stricter guidelines for overseas investments

Beijing issues stricter guidelines for overseas investments

21 August 2017

In efforts to curb rapid outflow of capital in recent years, China has put investment in foreign real estate and hotels on the "restricted list".

 

With recent demand for real estate heavily driven by Chinese investments, including the purchases of The Leadenhall Building and Walkie Talkie, analysts are expecting a downturn in UK property prices. 

 

 

 

 

Private student housing set to overtake university-owned accommodation

Private student housing set to overtake university-owned accommodation

17 August 2017

According to Knight Frank's market analysis, the value of private student housing is likely to overtake the value of university provision with the 2,500 beds expected to be delivered this year. 

 

Separately, Cushman and Wakefield has reported that average rental growth for student housing has risen from 2.3% last year to 2.9% this year.

Mayor's SPG on affordable housing and viability published

Mayor's SPG on affordable housing and viability published

17 August 2017

Six months after consultations closed, the Mayor has published the Supplementary Planning Guidance (SPG) that defines a "Fast Track Route" exempting policy compliant proposals offering 35% affordable housing on site from viability review process, but subject to early review if not progressed within 2 years.  50% affordable housing is expected from publicly owned land and development by Registered Providers.  The SPG also confirms discount market rent, provided by build to rent developments, and the new London Living Rent as forms of affordable housing.  All affordable housing is expected to remain so in perpetuity.  

 

Read more here >

Garden Bridge saga comes to an end

Garden Bridge saga comes to an end

14 August 2017

The Garden Bridge Trust has announced that it is winding up its operations, after it was unable to secure alternative guarantees for ongoing maintenance costs. The Mayor of London declined to underwrite these costs following an independent project review by MP Margaret Hodge, which highlighted a funding gap of £70m and spiralling construction costs.

 

£37.4m of public money has already been spent on the project, with a final bill of up to £46.7m likely after cancellation costs.

 

 

London private rental growth back on the rise as supply drops

London private rental growth back on the rise as supply drops

14 August 2017

According to Countrywide data, London's rental growth increased by 2.2% between June to July 2017 following eight consecutive months of falls. This has been attributed to the decline in rental purchases by private landlords following the stamp duty increase in 2016, which has led to an 18% year on year decrease in available rental properties in London.

 

The supply of rental homes in Great Britain overall continues to grow, however, as the stamp duty acts as less of a disincentive in less expensive areas of the country, where people are also more likely to buy.  Read more here >

 

 

Permitted Development Rights applications slow down

Permitted Development Rights applications slow down

11 August 2017

The latest Department for Communities and Local Government data  shows that the number of permitted development rights (PDR) applications submitted to convert offices to residential has decreased in the last three years, since the initiative was introduced.  In England the total number of PDR applications fell c 28% from 3,980 in year ending March 2015 to 2,858 in the year ending March 2017. 

 

The decrease is set to continue, as several local authorities have cited the safety concerns following the Grenfell tragedy. 

 

 

Industry backing for BTR plans

Industry backing for BTR plans

3 August 2017

Housing minister Alok Sharma has received support from the British Property Federatino and RICS for plans to boost the build to rent sector (BTR) introduced in Housing White Paper earlier this year.  The plans included measures that enable councils to plan for BTR provision, allow private sector to offer affordable rents in lieu of other types of affordable housing, and introduce longer tenancies.

 

It is estimated that BTR sector could provide up to 240,000 additional homes by 2030.

 

 

 

Key issue for 2017 General Elections: Brexit

Key issue for 2017 General Elections: Brexit

3 August 2017

According to the British Election Study (BES), which tracked the political views and choices for the same 30,000 voters over the past three years, Brexit was considered "the single most important issue facing the country" throughout the campaign. This was surpassed briefly by terrorism in wake of the attacks in Manchester and London. (Read more here >)

 

The study showed that c. 19% of voters switched party allegiances between April / May and the election broadly along their views on "hard-" and "soft-" Brexit, with more than half of the switchers going to Labour ("soft") and just under 20% voting Tory ("hard"). (Read more here>)

Rising costs squeeze SME margins

Rising costs squeeze SME margins

1 August 2017

Research by the Federation of Master Builders (FMB) reports that the rising cost of materials following the depreciation of the pound sterling have led to losses for one in ten small builders, while 32% reported squeezed margins and 22% have had to pass the costs onto their customers.  The materials where prices have increased the most include timber, insulation, bricks and blocks.

 

Read more here >