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Net injection of new homes in England reaches highest point in decade

The net injection of new homes into England’s housing supply is at its highest levels in a decade, official figures show.

There were 222,190 net additions in 2017-18 – up by 2% on 2016-17, figures from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government show.

It is the highest annual total recorded since 2007-08 – although the overall rate at which supply has been increasing year-on-year has slowed down.

In terms of housing gains last year, there were 195,290 new build homes – a 6% increase on the number of new build additions a year earlier.

And there were 29,720 gains from change of use from non-domestic properties to residential ones, such as by converting former offices and agricultural, storage and light industrial buildings into properties for people to live in.

There were also 4,550 gains from conversions from houses to flats and 680 other gains made up of homes such as caravans and house boats.

All of these increases were offset by 8,050 demolitions – making a total net increase of 222,190 homes between the start of April in 2017 and the end of March in 2018.

The latest net increase in housing supply is just 1% below a peak seen in 2007-08, when there was a 223,530 net increase.

The net increase in housing supply dropped off in the economic downturn but has since been recovering.

The net injection of new homes in 2017-18 sits 78% above a trough in 2012-13 when the figure was 124,720.

However, the annual increase of 2% in England’s net housing supply is lower than a 15% annual increase seen in 2016-17, an 11% rise in 2015-16 and a 25% upswing in 2014-15.

Polly Neate, chief executive of Shelter, said: “It’s good to see that the number of homes being delivered has risen again in the last year.

“To end the housing crisis, it’s crucial this progress continues and that as many as possible are social homes.”

Stewart Baseley, executive chairman at the Home Builders Federation (HBF), said the figures show the home building industry is delivering the increases in housing supply the country needs.

He said: “Whilst the second-hand market remains sluggish amidst wider economic uncertainty, with Help to Buy enabling first-time buyers to purchase new build homes, builders have continued to invest and increase output.”

He continued: “Whilst huge progress is being made, the Government needs to continue to work with all parts of the housing sector to assist them to deliver further increases if we are to hit their 300,000 target.”

Communities Secretary James Brokenshire said: “Today’s figures are great news and show another yearly increase in the number of new homes delivered, but we are determined to do more to keep us on track to deliver the homes communities need.

“That’s why we have set out an ambitious package of measures to deliver 300,000 homes a year by the mid-2020s. This includes over £44 billion investment, rewriting the planning rules and scrapping the borrowing cap so councils can deliver a new generation of council housing.”

Source: Yahoo Finance UK

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New-build home registrations at 11-year high, says industry body

The number of new-build homes being registered jumped to an 11-year high in the third quarter of 2018, according to an industry body.

Some 43,578 new homes were registered across the UK between July and September – the highest total since the third quarter of 2007, according to the National House Building Council (NHBC).

The NHBC’s registration figures are taken from builders who are responsible for around 80% of homes constructed in the UK.

Builders are required to register a house with the NHBC, a warranty and insurance provider, before starting work, which means its figures represent homes to be built in the months ahead.

The number of homes being registered was also 15% higher than in the third quarter of 2017.

Rising new home registrations in the private and the affordable sector have helped push the figures up, the NHBC said.

London has seen a dramatic increase in registrations, up 141% to 6,007, compared with a lower-than-usual figure of 2,492 in the same period last year, its report said.

This is partly due to a number of large developments being registered by housing associations and by investors focused on the private rental sector, according to the NHBC.

It said Scotland, Yorkshire and Humberside and the South West of England are also seeing considerable growth in new-build registrations compared with 2017.

This week’s Budget saw further help for first-time buyers amid a package of measures aimed at boosting the housing market.

NHBC chief executive Steve Wood said: “The upturn in registrations over recent months is good news for the industry and shows that there remains a strong demand for high-quality new homes in many parts of the UK.

“The increase in London is welcome, although it has been boosted by a number of large-scale developments and has to be set against unusually low figures this time last year.

“On a broader front, the industry remains cautious in the short-run until the economic impact of Brexit is clearer.

“Attaining the Government’s target of 300,000 new homes by the middle of the next decade will require a real focus on innovation, particularly the use of modern methods of construction, and on building skills and capacity in the workforce onsite, topics many builders are actively grappling with.”

Here are the numbers of new-build homes registered across the UK between July and September, and the change compared with the third quarter of 2017 according to the NHBC:

– North East, 2,172, 5%
– North West, 4,280, minus 7%
– Yorkshire and Humberside, 2,917, 39%
– West Midlands, 3,138, minus 11%
– East Midlands, 3,080, minus 14%
– Eastern England, 3,814, minus 4%
– South West England, 4,604, 34%
– London, 6,007, 141%
– South East, 7,128, 7%
– Scotland, 3,681, 20%
– Wales, 1,476, minus 10%
– Northern Ireland and Isle of Man, 1,281, 71%

Source: Yahoo Finance UK

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Planning hurdle passed in bid to build 1,600 new homes at Western Harbour

Developers will finally bring forward detailed plans for around 1,600 new homes which have stalled for more than 15 years.

Forth Ports’ proposals to redevelop its Western Harbour site between Leith and Newhaven passed a planning hurdle when the updated development framework was approved by councillors.

The company will now bring forward full plans by February – as original outline planning permission is due to expire next year. The framework was resubmitted due to the original masterplan for the site no longer meeting aspects of the council’s planning guidance.

The new community will include a large park, a board-walk promenade and a new school for which plans are set to come forward “in the next couple of months”. Forth Ports has submitted a funding bid to the Scottish Government for a loan to accelerate delivery of affordable housing at the waterfront site.

Charles Hammond, Forth Ports group chief executive, said: “We are pleased with the decision by City of Edinburgh Council to approve our revised design framework for Western Harbour in Leith.

“Forth Ports and Rettie & Co have been working together for over two years on these proposals that will result in the delivery of a community of 1,600 mid-market rental home and park which should also create the setting for the new primary school for the area.”

He added: “Through our other recently completed developments at Harbour Point and Harbour Gateway, we know there is a great deal of demand from people looking for these mid rent homes and an opportunity to create a community.

“Our proposal represents a major boost for the Leith economy and for Edinburgh as a whole and we now hope for a positive outcome from the Scottish Ministers on the possible loan funding for this project. Work is well underway preparing a full planning application in readiness for submission before the end of February 2019.”

Three blocks of flats on the Western harbour site have already been built in the first phase of the project – along with a hotel and an Asda supermarket.

This phase of the development won planning permission in principle in 2002 – but the renewed agreement is set to expire next year. The new flats will range from three to eight stories high and each block will have its own surrounding green space built around a park.

The city council’s development management sub-committee welcomed the revised vision for the Western Harbour.

Ward Cllr Chas Booth said the response from local residents had been “overwhelmingly positive”.

He added: “This space has laid empty for a long time and local residents are very keen to see development come forward. If the decision to go ahead with the trams is made later this year, this is highly accessible from a public transport perspective.

“This is a good application. I hope that between now and the detailed application, it can still be improved in terms of pedestrian and cycle access and in terms of the green space.” Councillors unanimously approved the revised design framework. Planning convener Cllr Neil Gardiner said:

“This allows for more creativity in future applications – that should be supported. “The larger blocks allow for better green space and I’m very happy to see that car parking is either underground or captured within the blocks – it’s not predominantly on the streets.”

Source: Edinburgh News

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Plans for new homes in Spofforth deferred over safety fears

Controversial plans to build up to 72 new houses in the historic Yorkshire village of Spofforth have been deferred despite Harrogate Borough Council planning officers recommending approval.

In edgy and hearfelt exchanges at a planning committee meeting (June 12), the 11-strong committee persistently resisted pressure from planning officers who claimed there was no good reason to defer the application, particularly since, at this stage, it was only being submitted in outline form.

But  councillors were very concerned about the extra traffic that would be generated by the new housing estate, earmarked to be located on farm land at Massey Fold at the eastern end of Spofforth, a floral village which lies between Harrogate and Wetherby and prides itself in being mentioned in the Domesday Book of 1086.

The chairman of Spofforth Parish Council, Coun Shirley Fawcett, told the meeting: “The main problem is the traffic. It’s absolutely terrible.”

Meanwhile, Spofforth’s Borough councillor, Conservative Andrew Paraskos, highlighted the problems facing pedestrians; and he denied the developer’s claim that the narrow footpath along Harrogate Road – where the main entrance to the housing estate will be located – was safe.

“It’s blatantly not safe,” he said. “Pedestrians have to walk single file and you can’t get a pushchair or wheelchair along the footpath.”

According to Spofforth resident Stewart Killin, this would mean most residents would  either get into their cars; or walk – but put themselves at risk.

He also highlighted other problems which would be caused if the application was approved including the impact on Spofforth’s primary school and on dental and medical services in the village.

Altogether Harrogate Council received 172 representations from Spofforth residents, all objecting to the plans and on a variety of grounds including  that the proposed land was known to flood; that the site was one of potential archaeological interest; and that the northwestern corner of the site lay within Spofforth’s conservation area.

Harrogate Council’s planning department acknowledged that the application by the Ilkley-based property developer Opus North (part of real estate investment giant, Palmer Capital) would cause harm to the setting of the village and some ecological damage, but argued that this would be “limited” and that any impact would be “adequately mitigated.”

The planners also felt such considerations were outweighed by the benefits offered by the new housing estate. These included providing additional housing to meet the needs of the Harrogate district. Plus the financial contribution promised by the developer towards the maintenance and enhancement of Spofforth’s existing facilities and services.

Opus North had already amended its original planning application, reducing the number of proposed houses from 84 to a maximum of 72.

Ignoring the advice of planning officials, councillors unanimously backed the suggestion by Coun Robert Windass (Con, Boroughbridge) that any decision should be deferred until after the committee had been given the opportunity to closely question a representative of North Yorkshire County Council’s highways department about safe access to and from the proposed estate.

It was also suggested that an official from the County Council’s education department should be present to spell out exactly what impact the new housing development would have on Spofforth’s primary school; whether an extension would have to be built – or children forced to travel elsewhere.

It was agreed that the meeting with County County officials should be arranged as quickly as possible.

Source: Stray FM

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Sadiq Khan pledges to build 10,000 council homes by 2022

Sadiq Khan has pledged to build 10,000 new council homes in London over the next four years.

The mayor of London will use funds from a £1.67bn pot he secured from the government in its spring statement to increase the number of homes in the capital.

He is also allowing London councils to bid for grant funding at a special rate, which will allow them to offer new homes based on social rent levels more easily, his office said.

Mr Khan criticised the government for failing to give councils in London the freedoms they require to ensure homes sold under the Right to Buy scheme are replaced.

Since Right to Buy was introduced in 1980, 306,000 social homes have been sold by councils in London, according to the Ministry of Housing.

During the same time, only 62,000 new homes have been built at social rent.

Mr Khan said: “I grew up on a council estate and I know first-hand the vital role social housing plays in London.

“Council homes for social rent bind our city together, and they have been built thanks to the ambition of London’s councils over many decades.

“Back in the 1970s, when I was growing up, London councils built thousands of social homes, providing homes for families and generations of Londoners.

“But the government has turned its back on local authorities, severely hampering their ambition to build by cutting funding and imposing arbitrary restrictions on borrowing.”

Mr Khan added: “I am proud to launch Building Council Homes for Londoners – the first ever City Hall programme dedicated to new council housing.

“I want to help councils get back to building homes for Londoners again, and I’m doing that with support from the £1.67bn fund I secured from government to help get 10,000 new homes underway over the next four years.

“I am offering councils expertise and resources from City Hall to scale up their homebuilding programmes, and I will help them to replace homes sold through Right to Buy.

“The government is failing to enable councils to replace the hundreds of thousands of council homes sold through Right to Buy, and so I will do all I can to help councils replace as many of them as possible.”

Source: Yahoo Finance UK

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New-build market in the UK to benefit from genuine competition for water connections

John March, Water Director at GTC shares his views on how the new-build market in the UK is to benefit from genuine competition for water connections

From April 2018, measures introduced by Ofwat, the UK water regulator, sweep away barriers to competition and, for the first time, give housebuilders and developers in England and Wales a real choice of providers for new water and wastewater connections. This opening up of the water market is expected to bring developers in both the private and public sectors significant benefits, including the opportunity for developments of all sizes to adopt a truly multi-utility approach, sourcing all of a site’s utilities through a single network provider.

Until now, there have been very limited opportunities for developers to source their water networks from anyone other than their local water company. In England and Wales, water companies supply domestic water and wastewater services on a monopoly basis within their specific geographical areas. It has always been an option for new developments to choose a competing water company, but under the previous rules, it was only financially viable for competing companies to become involved on the largest projects.

Water competition – the changes

These competing water companies are referred to as NAVs – ‘New Appointment and Variation’ – and are licensed by the regulator on a per-site basis. NAVs own and manage the site network providing billing, maintenance and customer services. They either install the network themselves or adopt networks installed on a developer’s behalf by Self-Lay Providers (SLPs).

Following an investigation into how the water market was operating, Ofwat identified several significant barriers to competition. These involved the way in which tariffs for bulk water supply and income offset were calculated. The changes being introduced will make it easier for developers and competing water companies to establish what an incumbent water company will charge to connect a new development to their existing water network. The charges will also be fairer, with new connections being the same irrespective of who the final network owner will be. In addition, Ofwat has undertaken to streamline the lengthy licensing process required to appoint alternative network providers, such as GTC.

Bringing water into line with the markets for gas and electricity

Housebuilders and developers are used to the freedom to choose their network providers for gas and electricity connections and indeed most of new electricity and gas connections are undertaken by independent network providers. The gas and electricity markets in the UK were liberalised twenty years ago and the opening up of those markets has delivered increased competition on price, higher service standards and more innovation and development. The same benefits will now be available in the water and wastewater markets. The Home Builders Federation (HBF), the representative body for the home building industry in England and Wales regards these developments as so significant that it has established a committee to focus on how these major changes will impact its members.

GTC, as the UK’s largest independent utility network provider to the new-build market, has welcomed the opening up of the water market and has been working with Ofwat and Water UK, which represents the water industry, to help make these changes happen. GTC has considerable experience of being a NAV licence holder and is already responsible for more than 8000 live water and wastewater new connections, with contracts to build out tens of thousands of further connections on sites from Newcastle in the north to Weston-Super-Mare in the southwest. GTC is looking forward to being able to offer the whole housebuilding sector the opportunity to benefit from its different approach to network provision across all the utilities.

The future is… multi-utility

With the arrival of genuine competition in the water market, adopting a multi-utility approach is now a realistic option for housebuilders and developers working on sites of all sizes. Now all a development’s utilities – water, wastewater, electricity, gas, ultrafast FTTH (Fibre-to-the-Home) and in some case district energy – can be sourced from a single independent provider. Utility procurement can be simplified with only one set of tenders, one company to deal with and a single project manager who oversees the installation of all the utilities with all the time and cost-savings, that would deliver.

GTC and its sister company Metropolitan, has worked in just this way on several flagship projects such as King’s Cross and Greenwich Millennium Village in London and has direct experience of the benefits that co-ordinated utility installation and combined network management can bring. Those benefits will now be available to much smaller developments, even those of as few as 50 houses.

Developers need to act now

The new measures come into force in April and every housebuilder and developer needs to consider how these changes will affect their utility procurement. Provided an order has not yet been placed, it is still possible to review options.

Robust competition across all the utilities for new-build developments can only be a good thing. It is now up to housebuilders to take full advantage of these new opportunities.

Source: Open Access Government

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Mayor demands better new homes in Shrewsbury planning row

Controversial plans for 164 houses on land off Otley Road have moved a step closer. Council officers have recommend that the plans are approved – but Shrewsbury Town Council has objected to the development, with the mayor today saying the town deserves better quality houses.

The plans are part of a much larger scheme of up to 550 houses, commercial development, a hotel, a care home of up to 70 beds and supporting local centre and community uses.

Work will also involve the building of new estate roads and associated highways works, associated infrastructure, associated earthworks, and landscape works including informal open space and children’s play area, which were given outline permission in 2015.

Shrewsbury Town Council has objected to the plans for the houses and said that there are not enough open spaces, lack of parking, and lack of affordable housing.

Shrewsbury’s mayor Jane MacKenzie said she will personally be objecting over the lack of quality and she said she is organising a public meeting to set up a list of principles for quality development to be handed to developers at the first stage of a planning application.

Standards

She said: “I’m going to be objecting over the quality of the building, the lack of imagination and the low standards that property developers seem to be getting away with.

“We’re hoping to set up a meeting next month and develop a list of principles which will go to Shropshire Council’s planning department and be handed out to developers at the first stage of the planning process.

“We’re getting the same old developers thinking they can just push something through that doesn’t support the culture and heritage of Shrewsbury.

“It’s very disappointing, people deserve better. It’s about the next generation not us.

“I’m organising the public meeting for people who are tired of what’s happening in Shrewsbury with the development.

“We need development, but just better quality development.”

The public meeting will take place at The Guildhall on April 28.

Bellway Homes Ltd have applied to build the homes which would consist of 15 two bedroom houses, 72 houses with three bedrooms, 52 houses with four bedrooms, which would all be private housing.

There would also be a number of affordable homes including four one bedroom apartments, 14 two bedroom houses and seven three bedroom houses.

Shropshire Council’s central planning committee will make a decision on the plans on Thursday in Shirehall.

Source: Shropshire Star

 

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New council homes set to ease waiting list woe in Nuneaton and Bedworth

More council homes are set to be built across Nuneaton and Bedworth in a bid to ease the ever-growing waiting list.

Nuneaton and Bedworth Borough Council has, unlike many other authorities across the country, been forging ahead with plans to build more council homes.

As a result, it has been awarded what is known as full Investment Partner status by Homes England, a public body sponsored by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government.

With the title comes a grant of £120,000, which the council is using to build more affordable homes, including a new project in Bedworth.

New council homes in Bedworth

The council’s latest build programme is at Ashington Road, Bedworth, where there will be four new two-bedroom homes.

New modern methods of construction are being piloted which means they will be ready for occupation far faster than traditional brick build, helping the council to meet the notoriously high level of demand for affordable rented housing across the two towns.

‘Significant achievement’

Councillor Dennis Harvey, Town Hall leader, said: “This is fantastic news – it is a real vote of confidence in our experience and ability as a housing developer; few local authorities have been awarded full Investment Partner status by Homes England so this is a really significant achievement.

“The assessment team were really impressed by our strong track record in the delivery of new housing and in the quality of the recent programmes at Abbey Street and Kings View.

“Full Investment Partner status means that we’re considered to be a safe pair of hands in building houses and as such, we have been given certain privileges and better access to grant funding.

“This allows us to better serve our residents by meeting the demand for good quality affordable new rental homes within the borough.”

Source: Coventry Telegraph

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17 new homes could be built in Guernsey

Seventeen new houses could be built on a field near Vale School in Guernsey.

The island’s Planning Department have submitted a framework for developers to build on the agricultural land at Camp Dolent on Tertre Lane.

The site is 5-10 minutes walk from St Sampson main centre with Vale School and petrol stations nearby.

The Draft Development Framework gives a wide-range of guidance on the use of the plot, including:

  • Neighbouring residential development – There are no immediately adjoining residential properties. However, new development must respect the residential amenity of neighbouring properties to the south and west of Tertre Lane, including consideration of privacy and overlooking.
  • Access – The existing vehicular access is not suitable for a residential development of the scale proposed. Development on this site provides an opportunity to enhance pedestrian safety and access by providing a public footpath along Tertre Lane.
  • Design- Two storey buildings constitute a more efficient use of land than single storey buildings and therefore development proposals should consider a multi-storey design from the outset.
  • Renewable Energy – Proposals for the incorporation of renewable energy installations into the design of the development, such as solar tiles, is encouraged.

Based on the site, the Framework predicts between 8-17 dwellings.

Islanders are being asked to give their views before Friday 6th April.

Source: iTV

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Construction sector records worst decline since 2013 as new work dries up

Output in Britain’s construction industry fell at the fastest annual pace for five years in January as a slowdown in commercial developments and house-building hit the sector hard.

Figures from the Office for National Statistics show that output fell by 3.9%, the biggest year-on-year decline since March 2013.

Monthly figures also made for grim reading, falling 3.4% between December and January, while new orders decreased by 25% in the fourth quarter.

Economists had expected a monthly decline of just 0.5%.

“Construction continues to be a weak spot in the UK economy with a big drop in commercial developments, along with a slowdown in house-building after its very strong end to last year,” ONS senior statistician Ole Black said.

Investment in commercial developments, particularly in London, has fallen off a cliff since the Brexit vote as higher construction costs and uncertainty has seen developers delay new schemes.

Samuel Tombs, chief UK economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics, said: “Commercial work will continue to fall if, as we expect, progress in Brexit talks remains slow.

“We doubt that house-building will recover fully soon. The prospect of further increases in interest rates is subduing buyer demand both for new and existing homes.”

The ONS data dump also included figures which show that Britain’s industrial production rebounded in January following a boost in manufacturing and North Sea oil and gas production.

Manufacturing grew 0.1% in January month on month, representing the ninth month in a row of growth for the first time since records began in 1968 as factories benefit from strong global demand and a weak Brexit-hit pound.

Industrial production grew 1.3% in January, with growth driven mainly by the reopening of the Forties oil pipeline, which was shut down for three weeks after a crack was discovered in December.

Mining and quarrying provided the largest upward contribution, increasing by 23.5%.

“Manufacturing has recorded its ninth consecutive month of growth but with a slower start to 2018. Total production output continues to advance, bolstered in January by the Forties oil pipeline coming back on stream after December’s shutdown,” Mr Black added.

Figures also showed the UK trade deficit widen by £3.4 billion in good and services to £8.7 billion, with the ONS citing rising oil prices making for more expensive fuel imports, which rocketed 21.4%.

This contributed to a £3.2 billion widening of the trade in goods deficit.

Source: BT.com