Industry Intel

April: Property industry news headline round-up

Tina Ledger

Graphic Designer

Jul 26, 2022

April has been a very exciting month for the construction industry. The London Mayoral election is galvanising pledges to help with London’s housing crisis, with Sadiq Khan pledging to launch his own low-cost housing developer.

In other news, close to £2bn of new roads are set to be built around the River Thames, and Metropolitan Thames Valley Housing has started pledged for £448M Repairs and Maintenance Framework. The COVID-19 grant scheme has been extended with £40m, and the Government announced a new £150m ‘Help to Build’ scheme.

We’ve seen two huge mergers in the past month, with GreenSquare and Accord merging to become GreenSquareAccord and Catalyst Housing Group purchasing Roseberry.

City Hall To Back Low-Cost Housing Developer

The London Mayor Sadiq Khan has said that he will launch his own low-cost housing developer if he is re-elected in May.

City Hall would act as a ‘master developer’ and oversee the direct development of new homes by the Greater London Authority (GLA).

The City Hall developer would oversee the direct development of new homes by the Greater London Authority (GLA), with City Hall acting as master developer, the mayor’s campaign said.

Khan’s manifesto also pledged to give his Housing and Land directorate first refusal on Transport for London land suitable for housing development in addition to that already earmarked for development.

Sadiq Khan, who is standing for the Labour party, is a strong favourite in the polls ahead of next month’s election.

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14.3 Miles of Road To Be Built North and South of River Thames

Highways England has invited tenders on two road contracts worth a combined £1.9bn to build routes north and south of the River Thames on the proposed Lower Thames Crossing.

The two successful bidders will build a total of 14.3 miles of new roads connecting what would be the longest road tunnel in the UK to the strategic road network. In total, the scheme could cost up to £8bn, according to some estimates.

The £600m Kent Roads contract is a two-stage design and builds contract for the part of the route from the A2/M2 corridor to 1km south of the southern tunnel entrance, with strategic utilities and environmental interfaces.

The £1.3bn Roads North of the Thames contract is also a two-stage design and build contract delivering the route from 1km north of the northern tunnel entrance to Junction 29 of the M25. New link roads are required to connect the route with the M25, A13, and A1089.

Matt Palmer, Lower Thames Crossing executive director, said: “These contracts show our commitment to this project, which will support 22,000 jobs during its construction and provide a huge economic boost to the UK economy when it opens for traffic.”

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Housing Association Catalyst Merges With Roseberry

Catalyst Housing Group has bought Epsom-based social landlord Roseberry in a deal the organisations said will see 2,000 homes built in the area over the next 10 years.

The G15 housing association owns 34,000 homes in London and the South-east, said it had formally agreed the “partnership” with 2,700-home Roseberry, following discussions that began in August last year.

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MTVH Seeks Contractors for £448M Repairs and Maintenance Framework

Metropolitan Thames Valley Housing (MTVH) has launched a seven-year framework this week, with contracts set to start in June 2022.

The work will include repairing and maintaining kitchens, bathrooms, roofs, windows, doors, water and heating. It also includes fire safety work, including maintaining sprinkler systems, fire extinguishers and fire alarm systems, according to the contract notice.

Like many of its G15 peers, MTVH has faced significant fire safety costs in the wake of the Grenfell fire. In January, the G15 group said that spending on fire safety among its 12 members over the next decade is likely to total £2.9bn.

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RAC Announces Three-fold Increase in Pothole-related Breakdowns

The motoring organisation said that in the first quarter, despite lockdown, its patrols went to the aid of 4,694 drivers who had most likely broken down as a result of hitting a pothole.

This represents a 37% increase on the 3,426 breakdowns in the same period of 2020 for the ‘classic symptoms’ of having hit a pothole – broken suspension springs, distorted wheels, and damaged shock absorbers.

In total, 2.4% of all call-outs attended by RAC patrols between January and March were for pothole-related breakdowns – up from 1.6% during the same period in 2020, and the highest proportion seen since 2017.

Head of roads policy Nicholas Lyes warned that the problem could worsen as pandemic restrictions are eased.

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COVID-19 Grant Scheme Extended With £40m

Work and Pensions Secretary Therese Coffey has said that the COVID Winter Grant Scheme would be renamed the COVID Local Support Grant and will now run until June 20 in line with England’s road map out of lockdown.

Ms Coffey also added that there would be an extra £40m available for councils to draw on. The scheme allows councils to provide support to families and individuals and was due to expire on March 31st.

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£150M ‘Help to Build’ Scheme Launched

The Government announced a new £150m ‘Help to Build’ scheme to make it more affordable for people to build their own homes through lower deposit mortgages. They also announced £2.1m in funding aimed at boosting neighbourhood planning by supporting local authorities in under-represented areas.

Announcing the scheme, housing secretary Robert Jenrick MP said: ‘Building your own home shouldn’t be the preserve of a small number of people, but a mainstream, realistic and affordable option for people across the country. That’s why we are making it easier and more affordable – backed by over £150m new funding from the Government.

House builders have welcomed the Government’s new scheme but called on local authorities to allocate more small sites in their local plans for development.

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New Guidance for Cladding Remediation Cases

PAS 9980, the new guidance to help fire risk assessors ascertain the risk of fire spread over external walls has been launched in the draft by the UK standards body BSI.

The new guidance has been sponsored jointly by MHCLG and the Home Office and was drafted by C.S Todd & Associates and a team of experts. Members of the drafting steering group include the BRE, National Fire Chiefs Council, London Fire Brigade, the Scottish Government, and a range of fire sector organisations.

PAS 9980 should help fire risk assessors make a decision, whether remediation is considered necessary for the specific circumstances of the building.

The consultation is open for public comment from 20 April to 20 May 2021 and applies to existing blocks of flats only.

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GreenSquare and Accord Finalise Merger

This merger has been negotiated for 14 months, and will result in a 25,000 home group. The group will trade as GreenSquareAccord.

Under the arrangement, 13,000-home Accord has become the landlord to GreenSquare’s tenants and shared owners. Westlea Housing Association, previously part of GreenSquare, has become a subsidiary of the new group.

GreensSquareAccord, whose properties will stretch between the West Country and the North East of England, is also aiming to build 1,000 new homes a year.

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Government U-turn on Raising Small Sites Threshold for Affordable Housing

The proposals suggested that developers would not have to include affordable housing in plans for sites as large as 40 or 50 homes – up from the current level of 10. The government said the plan would provide additional support for SME builders.

Analysis by the Local Government Association found that if the plans came into force, the result would be 30,000 fewer affordable homes being built over the course of five years.

The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government said that it will continue to speak to SME builders about the barriers they face, but added that “there are no plans to raise thet small sites threshold at this stage.”

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Replacement for Scrapped Green Home Grant Scheme Expected This Year

A replacement for the scrapped Green Homes Grant is expected to be announced as part of the autumn spending review, a senior figure in the Construction Leadership Council’s net-zero team has revealed.

Speaking as part of Building’s Net Zero Live conference, David Pinder, chair of the Green Construction Board, said business secretary Kwasi Kwarteng had told the CLC that he expected a replacement for the botched scheme to be announced later this year.

The previous Green Home Grant offered homeowners in England up to £5,000 in vouchers to make their homes more energy-efficient. It closed to applicants on the 31st of March.

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Graphic Designer

Tina Ledger

Being such a people person makes Tina exceptionally good at her job. She not only can relate to most people in one way or another, but she also genuinely enjoys hearing about other people’s experiences. Couple that with her creativity, resilience and ability to flourish under pressure, and you’ve got yourself a cracking Graphic Designer.

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