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New housing and more schools feature in ‘vision for the future’ for East Renfrewshire

A VISION of how East Renfrewshire will develop over the next 10 years has been set out by council chiefs.

Councillors will consider a draft strategy outlining the local authority’s long-term ambitions at a meeting today.

The revised ‘Vision for the Future,’ originally launched in 2015, reveals how the council will address five key outcomes.

These are early years and vulnerable young people; learning, life and work; environment and economy; safe, supportive communities; and older people and people with long-term conditions.

A report to councillors states: “East Renfrewshire is a modern, ambitious council, creating a fairer future with all. Our mission is simple: to make lives better for the growing numbers of residents who choose to live here.

“East Renfrewshire, however, faces many of the same challenges as the rest of Scotland over the next 10 years.”

These challenges include population growth, changes in the world economy, climate change and rapid developments in technology.

“The financial landscape for the public sector has become increasingly challenging, with councils having to find significant year-on-year savings while continuing to deliver services that meet the growing and more complex needs of local people,” the report adds.

In East Renfrewshire, this has meant making savings of over £54million since 2011, with a further £22m to be made by 2021.

Over the next decade, the council plans to significantly expand nursery provision, increase support for young people with additional support needs and ensure fewer children and families are in the care system.

The draft strategy states that increasing demand for places in schools will see a growth in the number of classrooms.

The council also wants East Renfrewshire to be a key tourist destination, with better rail and bus services and improvements to park and open spaces.

In addition, it plans to build at least 4,350 houses by 2029.

Vision for the Future also commits to continuing work to reduce CO2 emissions, as well as encouraging electric cars and ensuring any new-build housing is as energy efficient as possible.

And, for older people, there will be a shift away from hospital wards to community alternatives for those who require long-term or round-the-clock care.

Source: Barrhead News

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UK construction buoyed by house-building: surveys

UK construction industry is being shielded from the uncertainty about Brexit by modest growth in house-building, industry surveys showed on Thursday.

Builders registered 37,672 new homes for warranties and insurance from the National House-Building Council (NHBC) between January and March, up 3 percent compared with a year earlier.

NHBC’s figures, which cover 80 percent of the new homes market, are viewed as a lead indicator for the housing sector.

Separately, the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) said private house-building supported the otherwise subdued construction industry, with overall confidence at an almost six-year low.

While the commercial construction sector has been hurt by falling business investment ahead of Brexit, efforts to narrow a shortfall in the number of residential homes on the market has helped the house-building sector.

Construction represents about 6 percent of British economic output.

“We are pleased to report good numbers for the start of the year, although we do need to bear in mind the situation 12 months ago when freezing conditions caused major hold-ups in registrations as well as build-rates across the bulk of the UK,” NHBC chief executive Steve Wood said.

Uncertainty around Brexit had caused “some dampening” of the housing market for new homes in early 2019, he said.

Prime Minister Theresa May has failed to get her European Union divorce deal through parliament, forcing her to delay the original Brexit date of March 29. A new deadline has been set for Oct. 31, more than three years since the 2016 referendum.

House-building was the only source of growth for Britain’s construction industry during the first three months of 2019, according to the most recent purchasing managers index from IHS Markit/CIPS. The survey for April is due at 0830 GMT.

Reporting by Andy Bruce; Editing by William Schomberg

Source: UK Reuters

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Plans for council homes at former Dumbarton school approved

Plans to build 55 affordable new council homes on the site of the former primary school site in Dumbarton have been approved by councillors.

The 1.9-acre area has been empty since the former Aitkenbar Primary School was demolished in 2016, following its relocation to a purpose built shared campus nearby.

The new development will see the site transformed into mixed housing including 24 one-bedroom flats, two-, three- and four-bedroom semi-detached houses, two three-bedroom accessible bungalows and four-bedroom detached homes.

A tree-lined road will be formed through the centre of the site, from Howatshaws Road, and a new footpath will connect the site with the adjacent children’s play area and woodland path.

At a meeting of West Dunbartonshire Council’s planning committee yesterday, councillors were also told how new tenants in the homes would benefit from a community garden, which will have shrubs, a seating area, and community art designed in partnership with local schools and an artist.

Councillor Diane Docherty, vice chair of the planning committee, and convener of housing and communities, said: “I was really impressed with the plans for the new use of this site. It has been well thought out to ensure that this new development can fit in with the existing community and I’m sure it will bring a great deal of benefit to the surrounding area.

“The facilities on offer, including the Community Garden and its close proximity to schooling, is bound to make this site very popular when complete.

“We are committed to providing affordable and efficient new homes for our residents, and it is exciting to see how this development will take shape.”

Source: Scottish Construction Now

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New Wrexham developments feature as part of £63m affordable housing plans across region

A social housing provider has unveiled plans for new developments in Wrexham County Borough.

Clwyd Alyn says it is set to create 380 affordable, sustainable homes for local people across the region costing around £63 million.

The developments have been financed with £37 million of Welsh Government funding secured in partnership with local authorities, together with private finance arranged by Clwyd Alyn.

In Wrexham this involves new developments in both Pontfadog and the Brymbo areas.

Clwyd Alyn, which currently manages over 6,000 homes and employ more than 700 people across seven county areas, completed a total of 277 new homes and one community hub in the last financial year, including 200 specialist extra care apartments across North Wales.

Locally this includes Maes y Dderwen, a million pound extra care housing scheme for older people in Wrexham, which welcomed its first tenants in 2018.

Located on Grosvenor Road near the town centre, it is specifically designed for local people aged 60 or over who wish to live independently in a home of their own with the peace of mind of 24-hour access to care support.

The total number of homes developed by the organisation over the last two years, combined with those currently being built, or proposed for the years ahead, represents a total investment of £221 million covering the creation of a of 1,435 homes.

Commenting on both current and future developments locally, Craig Sparrow, executive director of development for Clwyd Alyn said: “In Wrexham County last year we completed Maes Y Dderwen, a state-of-art extra care development with 60 apartments, promoting independent living for older people and we’ve recently also welcomed new residents to a development of 50 general apartments in Rivulet Road.

“We’re also currently creating new homes in Pontfadog and we are proceeding with proposals for 70 homes in Brymbo.”

Clare Budden, group chief executive of Clwyd Alyn added: “We know there is a significant shortfall of social and affordable housing across Wales, with increasing levels of homelessness, growing waiting lists and too many people living in poor quality and short-term housing.

“We are working in partnership with local authorities and other agencies and working hard to deliver our mission; – ‘Together to beat poverty.’

“We firmly believe that by building new affordable homes, working in partnership, and through delivering a range of support services, we can encourage and help people to live well and build their own strong communities.

“We have a total of 792 homes either completed during the last two years, in progress, or about to start on site. We have proposals for another 643 homes for the years to come, representing an overall investment total of £221 million and 435 homes.

“We would like to thank the Welsh Government and all our Local Authority partners from across the region for their support in helping us to provide these vital homes bringing hope and joy to local people for generations to come.”

Source: Wrexham

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Affordable homes to be built on site of former sports club

Work is under way to build 48 new affordable homes on the site of the former Barton Lane Sports and Recreation Club in Eccles, Salford, which had sat unoccupied since November 2016.

ForHousing is transforming the disused site at Barton Lane into 48 modern apartments for affordable rent, comprising 24 one-bedroom and 24 two-bedroom homes.

The landlord owns and manages 24,000 homes across the North West of England, in Fylde, Knowsley, Oldham and Salford, and provides housing management services on behalf of Cheshire West and Chester Council.

Mangrove Estates is the developer on the site with Watson Homes responsible for the build and Grays Architecture leading on the scheme design.

Nigel Sedman, group director of homes said: “It’s really good news that the Barton Lane development has started on site.

“It will provide greatly needed affordable homes for 120 people and takes our investment into new homes in Eccles to over £20m.”

He added: “At ForHousing we are committed to building high-quality homes, stronger neighbourhoods and working together with tenants to make more things possible for more people.

“In the North West we have developed over 900 new homes to date across a mix of tenures and will be building a further 540 by 2020.”

The Barton Lane development is part funded by a £1.68m grant from Homes England. It is earmarked for completion by Winter 2020.

By Neil Hodgson

Source: The Business Desk

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UK construction sector shrinks for second consecutive month

UK construction sector contracted in March for the second month in a row, it was revealed today, as a slowing commercial market and Brexit uncertainty weighed on the sector.

The construction purchasing managers’ index (PMI) stood at 49.7 in March compared to 49.5 in February, the first back-to-back fall in output since August 2016. A score of under 50 marks a contraction compared to the month before.

The PMI, part of a survey released by IHS Markit and the Chartered Institute of Purchasing and Supply (CIPS), gives a comprehensive overview of the health of the sector.

Commercial construction – building for the private sector – was the worst performing area during the latest survey period, with widespread reports in the survey of Brexit uncertainty leading to lower client demand.

Residential construction bucked the trend, however, and saw the strongest upturn so far in 2019. This was despite statistics from mortgage lender Nationwide that last week showed UK house price growth was soft in March, having been dragged down by London’s worst house price drop in a decade.

There was also a modest rise in staffing levels at UK construction companies while business optimism edged up from the four-year low seen in February, IHS Markit/CIPS said.

However, Duncan Brock, group director at CIPS, said: “Not a small rise in job creation, optimism and new orders, nor resilient house building, were enough to buck the underlying downward trend in a sector suffering from client hesitation and consumer gloom,” he said.

He added: “The fault of this continuing inertia was placed squarely at the feet of Brexit.”

Yet Samuel Tombs of Pantheon Economics was more optimistic, saying: “With mortgage rates unlikely to rise much even when the [Bank of England’s] monetary policy committee starts to increase the bank rate again and the Help to Buy scheme set to operate at least until 2023, housebuilding should keep rising.”

He said: “Meanwhile, high profit margins and low borrowing costs lay good foundations for a recovery in business investment in the second half of this year, provided Brexit uncertainty subsides.”

Businesses faced higher costs in March, the survey revealed, with higher raw material prices due to the weak sterling exchange rate and a pick up in inflation.

IHS Markit economist Joe Hayes said: “Fears that the recent weakness of the UK construction sector may not be just a blip, but a sustained soft patch, were further fuelled by latest data.”

“UK construction businesses ramped up their purchases of materials and other inputs, reflecting efforts to build safety stocks ahead of any potential Brexit-related disruptions,” he said.

Yesterday it was reported that such stockpiling had caused the manufacturing sector PMI to hit a 13-month high as the industry responded to higher client demand.

However, Hayes said that in construction stockpiling meant that “supply chain constraints persisted and average input lead times lengthened once again.”

By Harry Robertson

Source: City AM

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More than a million homes could be built on brownfield land – campaigners

More than a million homes could be built on brownfield land, helping to meet housing demand and regenerate towns and cities, campaigners say.

A new analysis of councils’ brownfield land registers by the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) suggests there is space for a million homes on suitable sites which were previously built on and now sit derelict or vacant.

Two-thirds of the potential new homes are on sites which are “shovel ready” and are deliverable within five years, so they could make an immediate contribution to meeting housing need, the analysis suggests.

CPRE argues that prioritising the brownfield land which councils have shown is suitable for development will provide more homes and transform run-down areas.

And it will prevent the unnecessary loss of countryside and greenfield sites for housing, the campaign group said.

With more than 120,000 potential new homes added to the registers across England in the last year alone, brownfield land could continue to provide a steady pipeline of new housing, CPRE said.

Building on brownfield land presents a fantastic opportunity to simultaneously remove local eyesores and breathe new life into areas crying out for regeneration

Rebecca Pullinger, CPRE

But it warned that the definition of the land available for residential development for the registers may be missing opportunities to make better use of existing developed sites – meaning more homes could be provided.

And the assumptions for the density of housing on a site are low, so that increasing the number of properties built on brownfield could help councils make the best use of the space and deliver more homes, the charity said.

The analysis shows 18,277 sites identified across the country with 1,077,292 potential new homes – of which 634,750 homes are deliverable within five years.

London, Manchester, Birmingham, Leeds and Sheffield have identified suitable previously-developed land which could provide almost half a million homes.

CPRE is calling for the Government to introduce a genuine “brownfield first” policy which ensures suitable previously-developed or under-used land is prioritised for housing over green spaces and countryside.

And clearer definitions and guidelines are needed for the registers to be a better pipeline of sites, identifying all brownfield areas and recording their suitability for uses other than housing, including protecting their wildlife or heritage value where appropriate, it urged.

Rebecca Pullinger, planning campaigner at CPRE, said: “Building on brownfield land presents a fantastic opportunity to simultaneously remove local eyesores and breathe new life into areas crying out for regeneration.

“It will help to limit the amount of countryside lost to development, and build more homes in areas where people want to live, with infrastructure, amenities and services already in place.”

She added: “Councils have worked hard to identify space suitable for more than one million new homes.

“But until we have a brownfield first approach to development, and all types of previously developed land are considered, a large number of sites that could be transformed into desperately needed new homes will continue to be overlooked.

“The Government, local councils and house builders must work hard to bring these sites forward for development and get building.”

Housing Minister Kit Malthouse said: “This Government is committed to building the homes our country needs while still leaving the environment in a better state than we found it.

“We’re encouraging planners to prioritise building on brownfield land and working with local authorities to ensure sensible decisions are made on where homes get built.”

Source: iTV

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Is ‘No Deal’ the Best Deal for UK Construction?

According to a recent report by www.designingbuildings.co.uk just 15% of construction executives favoured a UK exit from the European Union (EU).

In recent times the Bank of England declared a no-deal Brexit could wipe 8% off the UK’s GDP this year – a bigger hit than the financial crisis – potentially taking 30% off house prices, according to a report in www.building.co.uk.

And yet with the prospect of the UK potentially pulling out of the EU with a No Deal Brexit, there are clearly vital potential issues about to affect thousands of businesses around the country – from a lack of clear guidance on regulations, to a shortage of skills, and a potential lack of access to building materials.

One obvious major concern is the ‘divorce’ could potentially result in a lack of free movement which Prime Minister Theresa May is adamant should take place.

Surely this means the skills shortage could worsen and the UK could become a victim of higher development costs whereby labour demand outstrips supply?

Figures from the Office for National Statistics indicate that one-third of workers on construction sites in London are from overseas, with around 28% coming from the EU. This calls into question the range of skills this one-third has acquired given that construction sites need a combination of skillsets to complete work from engineering to bricklaying.

On the one hand the knock on effect of a lack of free movement could result in the decline in the number of houses being built resulting in construction firms failing to meet the government’s housing target thus deepening the crisis of a lack of housing in large cities.

On the other hand, if investors pull out of the UK, house prices could drop – leaving more empty properties available on the market. Either way, it’s difficult for construction firms to know what to prepare for as Britain meanders its way through unknown territory.

A 2010 study by the Department of Business Skills and Innovation estimated that 64% of building materials were imported by the EU. The same report estimated that 63% of building materials were exported to the EU. After Brexit, importers and exporters may face duties or limits on quantities, which could in turn result in an increase in costs, or a shortage of, construction materials.

Brian Berry, Chief Executive of the Federation of Master Builders, says in a recent press release:

The single biggest issue keeping construction employers awake at night is the skills shortage. If we’re going to address this skills gap post-Brexit, the whole industry needs to step up and expand their training initiatives. Even Sole Traders can offer short term work experience placements and large companies should be aiming to ensure at least 5 per cent of their workforce are trainees or apprentices.

‘But realistically speaking, the UK construction sector can’t satisfy its thirst for skilled labour via domestic workers alone. With record low levels of unemployment, we’ll always need a significant number of migrant workers too – particularly in London and the south east.

‘The Government needs to work with construction to amend its Immigration White Paper and rethink the current definition of low-skilled workers. Level 2 tradespeople play a vital role in the sector and would currently be excluded, which is wrong. We urge Ministers to engage with the construction industry to help improve these proposals.’

The Construction Industry Training Board – www.citb.co.uk, – however, expects positive growth for the construction industry but only in the case of an exit deal as opposed to a no exit deal, according to the CITB’s recent press release.

The annual Construction Skills Network (CSN) report – a five-year forecast into the industry’s skills needs – anticipates construction growth of 1.3% across the UK, down a third of a percent on the previous year. The forecast is based on the scenario that the UK agrees an exit deal with the EU, rather than a ‘No Deal’ situation.

The biggest increase is expected in public housing, which is pulling ahead as infrastructure slows. Financial support from Government at both local and national levels is encouraging a 3.2% growth rate in public housing, up half a percent since last year’s forecast.

Infrastructure is set to grow by 1.9%, down from 3.1% predicted in last year’s forecast. The sector has been heavily affected by Brexit uncertainty and by investors stalling construction of the Welsh nuclear power plant Wylfa in January.

Commercial construction is significantly declining due to investors taking a cautious stance in the face of Brexit. The forecast expects the sector to drop sharply this year then level out by 2023, with zero growth anticipated overall.

However, the housing repair and maintenance sector appears to be benefitting from a quieter property market as home owners halt plans to sell up and instead focus on improving their current properties. By 2023, the sector is expected to have grown by 1.7%.

Despite the wider economic uncertainty, more construction workers will be needed over the next five years. An approximate 168,500 construction jobs are to be created in the UK over the next five years, 10,000 more than in last year’s forecast. Construction employment is expected to reach 2.79 million in 2023, just 2% lower than its peak in 2008.

Steve Radley, Policy Director at CITB, said:

‘This forecast aptly reflects the uncertainty, particularly associated with Brexit that we’re seeing across the wider economy. Currently, concerns around Brexit are weighing on clients and investors, creating a knock-on effect on contractors and their ability to plan ahead.

However, assuming that a deal is agreed, we expect low but positive growth for construction.  Even as infrastructure slows, sectors like public housing and R&M are strengthening. This will see the number of construction jobs increase over the next five years, creating growing opportunities for careers in construction and increasing the importance of tackling the skills pressures we face,”

Whether one prefers the notion of a road to opportunity or the wake-up call of a No Deal Brexit, the clock is ticking for the UK’s construction executives as the sector waits for clarity from the UK Government.

By 

Source: Busubess Bewa Wales

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Homebuilder sentiment holds steady despite a decline in mortgage rates

The nation’s homebuilders are feeling positive about their business, but not as much as they did a year ago.

A monthly sentiment measure held steady at 62 from February to March, according to the National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index. The index stood at 70 in March 2018. Anything above 50 is considered positive.

“Builders report the market is stabilizing following the slowdown at the end of 2018, and they anticipate a solid spring home buying season,” said NAHB Chairman Greg Ugalde, a homebuilder and developer from Torrington, Connecticut.

Mortgage rates rose throughout most of last year but have since fallen to below year-ago levels. That should help make all homes more affordable, but new homes come at a higher price than similar existing ones.

Weak affordability has been the biggest problem in the new home market, as builders have largely focused on move-up homes rather than cheaper entry-level products. The median price of a new home sold in January was down nearly 4 percent annually, according to the U.S. Census. That was not necessarily because builders were lowering prices, but because a larger share of entry-level homes sold that month. Sales in January fell to a three-month low.

“More builders are saying that lower price points are selling well, and this was reflected in the government’s new home sales report released last week,” said Robert Dietz, NAHB’s chief economist. “Increased inventory of affordably priced homes — in markets where government policies support such construction — will enable more entry-level buyers to enter the market.”

Builders say they continued to have trouble building lower-priced homes, however, due to shortages of skilled labor and buildable lots.

Of the index’s three components, sales expectations in the next six months rose 3 points over the past month to 71, current sales conditions increased 2 points to 68, and traffic of prospective buyers fell 4 points to 44. Buyer traffic has been in negative territory for several months.

Looking at three-month moving averages, builder sentiment in the Northeast rose 5 points to 48, the South was up 3 points to 66 and the West increased 2 points to 69. Sentiment in the Midwest fell 1 point to 51.

By Diana Olick

Source: Yahoo Finance UK

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Fife’s Housing Investment Plan on target to build 3,500 new houses by 2022

Fife Council has approved an investment plan which aims to deliver 3,500 new homes by 2022. Fife Housing Partnership’s Strategic Housing Investment Plan (SHIP) for 2019-2022 was recently approved by the council’s Community and Housing Services Committee.

It focuses on the delivery of social housing by Fife Council and the Fife Housing Association Alliance over the next four years.

The strong partnership approach between Fife Council and the Fife Housing Association Alliance, enables partners to plan future funding to make best use of resources.

Cllr Judy Hamilton, convener of the community & housing services committee, said: “We remain absolutely committed to meeting the housing needs of people of Fife. There is no doubt in my mind that good quality, warm and safe housing is a determinant of health and well-being. It is the bedrock of strong communities.

“The Strategic Housing Investment Plan outlines a mix of potential development projects, providing Fife with a realistic and practical plan to deliver the vital homes that the people of Fife need. Fife Council and the Fife Housing Association Alliance have an ambitious programme to build 3,500 new affordable homes across the Kingdom by 2022 through Fife’s Strategic Housing Investment Plan.”

Source: Scottish Construction Now