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Scottish Government urged to build on housebuilding momentum

As the level of housing completions continues to head in the right direction, the country’s home building industry has urged the Scottish Government to build on this positive news to enable it to deliver more of the homes Scotland’s growing population needs.

Official statistics released yesterday found there were 18,182 new build homes completed across all sectors over the year ending June 2018, an increase of 4%, or 695 homes, on the previous year.

The rise included increases in housing association completions (25% or 618 homes) and local authority completions (25% or 306 homes), whilst private-led completions fell by 229 homes (2%). The total number of social sector completions (housing association and local authority starts combined) increased by 924 homes (25%).

There were 19,903 all sector new build starts in the 12 months to end June 2018, a figure which is 1,121 homes (6%) higher than the number of completions in the same period, but which is a decrease of 1,231 homes (6%) on the 20,534 starts in the previous year. Private-led starts fell by 1,593 homes (11%) and housing association approvals decreased by 215 homes (4%), whilst local authority starts increased by 577 homes (48%). The total number of social sector starts (housing association and local authority starts combined) increased by 362 homes (6%).

Nicola Barclay, chief executive of trade body Homes for Scotland, said: “It’s great to see ongoing growth in the overall number of homes being built, but just under seven hundred extra homes over the last year is not going to solve our housing crisis. In order to return to the levels of a decade ago, we would need to see ten times this number on an annual basis.

“Scotland’s housing market remains amongst the most affordable places to live in the UK, and huge social and economic opportunities exist for the Scottish Government to attract further housing investment from both within Scotland and elsewhere – if it can create and maintain the favourable conditions this requires.

“Ways in which this can be achieved include ensuring the Planning Bill currently going through the Scottish Parliament meets the original objective of delivering more homes; encouraging more entrants into the industry; supporting those SMEs who want to develop more homes; preserving a regulatory environment that promotes investment and ensuring policies like Help to Buy are continued until such times that the mortgage market fully supports First Time Buyers.

“Ultimately, it needs joined-up thinking across portfolios, therefore we look forward to seeing how (this week’s) Budget supports sustainable housing growth so builders can contribute even more to Scotland’s social wellbeing and economic success.”

Housing minister Kevin Stewart welcomed the figures which also revealed a 21% rise in the number of affordable homes delivered in Scotland during the last year.

A total of 8,767 affordable homes were delivered for the year to September 2018, an increase on the 7,271 completions in the previous year.

As a result, the total number of affordable homes provided since 2007 has reached 80,104.

The figures also showed there were 5,340 social rented homes delivered, an increase of 864 homes, or 19%, on the previous year.

Kevin Stewart MSP said: “Making sure everyone has a safe, warm and affordable home is central to our drive for a fairer and more prosperous Scotland.

“That is why I am proud that this government has now delivered more than 80,000 affordable homes since 2007. This is a significant achievement – boosting the supply of affordable homes in communities right across the country.

“During the course of this Parliament we are investing more than £3 billion to deliver our target of at least 50,000 affordable, high-quality homes, including 35,000 homes for social rent.

“While we know this is an ambitious target, we have shown we can deliver on housing and we will continue to do so.”

However Graeme Brown, director of Shelter Scotland, said the figures prove the Scottish Government has a long way to go to meet its 2021 housing target.

He said: “The programme to develop 35,000 new homes for social rent by 2021 is one of the most important projects on the Scottish Government’s agenda.

“The latest figures show that with half the time gone only 11,825 social homes have been completed to date. This leaves much of the target on the drawing board and means we will have to see an acceleration in building if the target is to be met.”

Graeme Brown added:  “The more homes programme is a promise to Scotland that must not be broken. It represents the biggest investment in social housing since the 1970s and a chance to begin to restore the foundations of our housing safety net which has been badly damaged by decades of underinvestment.”

Source: Scottish Construction Now

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Plans for 400 homes in Walsall revived

More than 400 homes will be built on a Walsall estate under plans which are set to be given the green light when they come before council bosses next week.

Walsall Housing Group and Keepmoat Homes want to build 407 homes on land at Goscote Lane, in Goscote, near Pelsall, as part of the borough’s ‘biggest ever residential regeneration scheme’

Walsall Council’s planning officers have recommended the scheme is approved at the meeting on Thursday.

The news comes after planning bosses approved a plan to build 426 houses on the land in April last year, but no work began and now a fresh application for 407 homes has been submitted.

Head of development at Walsall Housing Group, Mark Ramdehal, said: “This is the final phase of the borough’s biggest ever residential regeneration scheme, delivering more than 800 new energy efficient homes in North Walsall.

“These revised plans have seen us replace proposed one and two bedroom apartments with two, three and four bedroom houses, in recognition of the need for more affordable family homes within the region.

“Subject to planning permission, we aim to be on site in the New Year, with the first homes completed by the end of 2019.”

The 407 houses includes 281 dwellings for private sale, and 126 for affordable general needs which compromise of bungalows and houses.

In the application, agent Konstantina Zannetaki says: “The development is part of the wider Goscote Lane Corridor Regeneration scheme, which is part of Walsall Council’s Strategic Regeneration Framework (SRF) initiative.

“The aim of the initiative is to regenerate the wider area with new, high quality housing and attractive, usable open spaces.

“The aim of this scheme is to create a safe, secure and desirable place to live in. It is vital that the proposals are influenced by and respond sensitively to the site’s context and surrounding buildings.”

The main entrance onto the site would be along the western boundary at the junction with Goscote Lane and Goscote Lane Crescent. A secondary entrance would run parallel to this, further south.

Councillor Ian Robertson, who represents the Blakenall ward, said: “We hoped that it would have started by now, but we welcome the fact that it’s moving forward and a new community can grow where the old one failed.”

Source: Express and Star

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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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UK property undersupply highlighted by new £1bn government investment

In partnership with Barclays Bank, the UK government has announced a ten-figure loan to help support small and medium-sized property developers to build close to the 300,000 new homes per year targets suggest the UK needs.

Summary:

  • UK government and Barclays Bank have announced a new £1 billion loan to support British property developers in delivering more new homes
  • Up to £100 million will be made available to each developer, as the government aims to meet its targets of bringing 300,000 new homes to the market each year
  • Rising demand for rental homes is driving rents up in key investment cities

Does this highlight the huge undersupply of property in the UK?

As demand continues to outstrip availability, the UK government and Barclays Bank have announced a new £1 billion finance deal to help support small and medium-sized developers in the country build more homes.

Housing Secretary James Brokenshire hailed the opportunity as another important step in “giving smaller builders access to the finance they need to get housing developments off the ground”.

The Housing Delivery Fund will be overseen by the government’s Homes England delivery agency and will help to open up the housing market to a greater share of property developers. As much as £100 million will be made available to developers able to demonstrate the necessary track record and experience in delivering the type of properties today’s homeowners and tenants demand. This includes purpose-built apartments for rent.

Brokenshire added: “This is a fantastic opportunity to not only get more homes built, but also to promote new and innovative approaches to construction and design that exist across the housing market.”

John McFarlane, Barclays’ Chairman, commented: “There is a vital need to build more good quality homes across the country.  This £1 billion fund is about helping to do exactly that by showing firms in the business of house building that the right finance is available for projects that help meet this urgent need.”

Government targets dictate that the UK needs to build 300,000 new homes each year by the mid-2020’s to meet the rising demand for property across all sectors of the market.

In the private rented sector, traditional buy-to-let homes can no longer meet the needs of the UK’s rising number of younger tenants; those that demand experience living in prime city centre locations.

Source: Select Property

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More than 100 new houses approved in Notts despite concerns about access

Plans for 110 new houses in Wollaton have been approved despite concerns being raised about access.

Outline planning permission has been granted today and more detailed designs are expected to go before Nottingham City Council’s planning committee in the coming months.

No councillor voted against the plans, however there was one abstention from Councillor Linda Woodings, who represents the Basford ward for Labour.

Access to the new site will be via Woodyard Lane.

Planning officers believe it is wide enough for two cars to pass each other but there will be some places where one car is required to wait, as part of traffic calming measures.

Cllr Woodings said: “I do live very close to the bottom of Woodyard Lane, and when I saw these plans, to me it does look like an odd access route.

“You have a lot of roads coming together in what even now feels like quite a dangerous junction.

“You have to have the neck movements of an owl to check all the directions.”

Council officer James Ashton, from the council’s highways department, said a detailed assessment had been carried out on the junction where the new housing scheme will be accessed from.

It found there had been no accidents which involved an injury in the last five years.

Mr Ashton said: “We don’t think there will be a safety issue even with the additional build up of homes.”

The site currently consists of three empty ’employment buildings’ and used to be occupied by engineering firm Siemens for offices and manufacturing; these will be demolished to make way for the new houses.

The company relocated to a new site in the city in December 2017.

The planning application was made by Michael Davies on behalf of the Nottinghamshire County Council Pension Fund.

As a condition of permission being granted a ‘financial contribution towards education’ and £3,350 towards the improvement of the footpath link between the site and Lambourne Drive will be paid.

Source: Notts TV

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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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Land designated for nearly 100 properties in Largs Glen

LAND has been designated for nearly 100 properties in Largs Glen near Noddleburn Meadow – despite flooding concerns raised by two councillors.

The council has earmarked space for 95 houses at the furthest end of Largs Glen beyond the as-yet unbuilt, Phase II at Noddsdale Meadow.

Local elected members are divided on the issue, with SNP councillor Alan Hillopposing the allocation of the new site and Conservative councillor Tom Marshallspeaking up in favour of it.

Cllr Hill said: “I am concerned about the possibility of flooding in this area.

“We have had serious flooding from Noddsdale Water in the past.

“A flooding study is still to report however given ongoing climate change issues I am just not convinced that we should be building in this particular area at the moment.

“There is adequate housing land available in Largs at the moment, including 122 homes on the site of the former Largs Academy and Kelburn Primary, new housing in Nelson Street and on Greenock Road.

“Noddsdale Meadow Phase II has outline consent to go ahead when and if the flooding issues have been addressed.

“Apart from those sites I have mentioned there is also housing land available on the St Mary’s School site and further up the hill at the site of Brisbane Primary.

“This is a 10 year plan and it will take that time to develop the sites that I have mentioned without bringing into play a new site opposite Kilburn Water at the farthest end of Brisbane Glen Road.”

Housing was proposed for Noddsdale Meadow Phase II at the time of the last Local Plan.

This was removed due to flooding fears following a request from Councillor Hill but subsequently reinstated at appeal.

This site has the potential for 80 houses and can already be developed, subject to resolution of flooding issues.

Cllr Hill said: “Noddsdale Phase II was strongly resisted by residents of Largs Glen back at the time of the proposed 2014 Plan.

“We provided sufficient evidence to councillors to have this area removed from the Local Plan at that stage.

“It was disappointing therefore that local elected members did not manage to stick together on this occasion.

“I saw no reason to agree to these additional 95 houses until after we were satisfied that all flooding issues had been addressed successfully.

“We should have continued with the same policy in my opinion.”

Speaking at the Largs Community Council meeting, Cllr Marshall explained the reasoning behind the extra housing, pointing out that the population is dropping as a whole across North Ayrshire.

He said: “NAC have been looking for ten development sites for housing right across the district. They have agreement for ten developers to build housing over the next ten years. “The thinking behind is it to help build the economy in Ayrshire by bringing in more people, and there are also a couple of housing developments in West Kilbride.”

Source: Largs and Millport News

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Number of new homes being registered ‘still close to highest levels in a decade’

The number of new homes being registered has reached its second highest levels in a decade over the last year, despite the freezing weather disrupting activity, according to an industry body.

Some 154,698 new homes were registered to be built in the 2017/18 financial year – a figure which was down by 2% compared with 2016/17 but still the second strongest year seen in the past decade – according to the National House Building Council (NHBC).

More than half of new homes registered in 2017/18 were detached or semi-detached homes and less than a quarter (24%) were flats.

Just 2,579 or 2% were bungalows – compared with 28,831 new bungalows registered in 1986/87.

Last financial year saw 116,451 new homes registered in the private sector and 38,247 homes registered in the affordable sector.

Half of the UK’s nations and regions saw a growth in registrations compared with the previous year, including a 21% jump in the North West of England, a 12% increase in the East Midlands and an 11% uplift in Wales.

By contrast, in London, the number of new build registrations plunged by 23%.

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.

Neil Jefferson, chief operating officer at the NHBC, told the Press Association: “Looking forward, there remains continued positivity.”

He said that despite last year’s registrations dip in London: “We are seeing quite a lot of activity in the affordable and sub-£600,000 bracket.”

The new figures also revealed a slower start to 2018, with 36,637 new homes registered in the first three months of the year, a 14% decrease compared with the same period last year.

The NHBC said the fall can in part be attributed to the exceptionally bad weather during the start of the year, which severely affected progress on building sites across the country.

It said there have been anecdotal reports from some house builders that up to 30 days were lost on site in the first quarter of the year as a direct result of the freezing conditions.

Other contributory factors include shortages in skills across the house-building industry, caution around Brexit and short-term market fluctuations, the NHBC said.

NHBC chief executive Steve Wood said: “New home registration figures for the last financial year have reached the second highest level in a decade, despite a challenging start to 2018, with freezing weather conditions affecting building sites up and down the country.

“Business confidence in both the private and affordable sectors remains high with clear routes to continued growth in 2018.”

Here are the number of new homes registered in the financial year 2017/18 and the percentage change compared with a year earlier, according to the NHBC:
– North East, 6,466, minus 2%
– North West, 18,272, 21%
– Yorkshire and Humberside, 9,331, minus 10%
– West Midlands, 14,587, 9%
– East Midlands, 14,314, 12%
– Eastern, 16,448, minus 3%
– South West, 14,122, minus 15%
– London, 14,795, minus 23%
– South East, 25,475, minus 5%
– Scotland, 11,891, 1%
– Wales, 5,384, 11%
– Northern Ireland (includes Isle of Man), 3,613, 7%

Source: Yahoo Finance UK