Industry Intel

August: Property industry news headline round-up

Tina Ledger

Graphic Designer

Jul 27, 2022

August has seen several huge shifts in the property, housing, and construction industries.

£4m of funding has been announced by the housing minister, and Peabody is planning to build 3,000 new homes per year if their merger with Catalyst goes ahead. This is happening against the backdrop of the labour shortage in the construction industry – prices of skilled workers jumped by 3.6% in August alone.

Many exciting new developments have been announced in the green sector, with over one hundred councils pledging support for a bill to reduce the UK’s carbon emissions. Camden is set to have the most sophisticated air quality sensors installed, and the UK’s hydrogen industry is set to reach £13bn by 2050. Find out more about all of these things and more in our latest newsletter:

Community-Led Housing Given £4m Boost

Housing minister Christopher Pincher has launched a new £4m fund to boost community-led housing and give people better access to affordable housing.

The funding will help community groups meet a range of costs incurred in trying to develop housing. This could include paying for legal advice, administration costs or searches, planning applications and design work.

Housing minister Christopher Pincher said, “Community-led housing is about local people playing a leading and lasting role in solving their housing problems, creating genuinely affordable homes and strong communities where mainstream housebuilders are unable to deliver.”

Applications have been open since 23 August and will remain open until the funds are allocated or until 31 December, whichever occurs first.

For more information, click here.

Councils Pledge Support for Bill Aimed at Cutting Emissions

One hundred and four councils have pledged support for the Climate and Ecological Emergency (CEE) Bill by passing motions in favour of making the Bill an Act of Parliament.

The Bill was tabled by a group of MPs back in June and is scheduled for its Second Reading in the House of Commons in September, in the lead up to the international climate conference COP 26 taking place in Glasgow this November. The Bill provides bodywork of overarching policy imperatives that recognise UK’s responsibility to reduce emissions and ecological footprint.

Cllr Sally Longford, a Labour councillor and deputy leader of Nottingham Town Council, said, “The recent examples of extreme weather in Europe and the US shows that action on climate change is needed now.

In Nottingham, we have a proud record of making our city more sustainable while improving peoples’ quality of life. We are working to become carbon neutral by 2028, and in June last year, we published our Carbon Neutral Action Plan, which outlines how we intend to achieve that.”

For more information, click here.

Jenrick Readies Inspectors for Planning Changes

Robert Jenrick has called for inspectors to be alive to these policy changes that encourage local authorities to take a long-term view of planning, as set out in paragraph 22 of the National Planning Policy Framework.

He wrote, “I understand that some local authorities have expressed concern about the implications of the paragraph 22 change for their emerging local plans.

While this change does not affect plans already published or submitted for examination prior to 21 July, it is something that planning Inspectors will need to take into account when examining plans published thereafter.”

The letter comes in the middle of growing protests over the Government’s suggested changes to the planning system.

Labour has already said it will vote against the plans, which they have branded a developers charter, there are also fears of a Conservative backbench rebellion in the Autumn.

For more information, click here.

Gateway One Fire Safety Requirements

New planning requirements on fire safety, known as planning gateway one, came into force earlier this month. The new requirements will ensure that fire safety at high-rise buildings is considered at the earliest stages of planning.

All new developments involving high-rise residential buildings must demonstrate that they have been designed with fire safety in mind before planning permission is granted. This also includes the site layout and access provided for fire engines also should be included.

Planning authorities must seek specialist advice on relevant applications from the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) before they make a decision on the application.

According to the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government, this responsibility will likely become part of the new Building Safety Regulator role in the future. Led by HSE, the regulator will oversee the new safety regime for all high-rise residential homes.

For more information, click here.

Home Office Clarifies Rough Sleeping Guidance

Last month, the Home Office published guidance intended to clarify its approach after over eighty local authorities, and homelessness organisations pledged to stand against them.

Brexit Immigration Rule changes published in October 2020 made rough sleeping grounds for refusing or cancelling a person’s right to remain in the United Kingdom.

In response to the new Immigration Rules, Homeless Link has launched a new campaign called #SupportDontDeport, supported by the Mayor of London and various other local authorities, including Southwark & Haringey councils.

“Homelessness organisations and local authorities across England are standing against these damaging rules and in solidarity with non-UK nationals who need our support,” said the charity. “In doing so, we are standing for a trauma-informed, support-led homelessness system that is trusted by everyone who needs it.”

For more information, click here.

World’s Densest Air Sensor Network To Be Launched in Camden

Air quality specialists AirLabs will install two hundred and fifty advanced AirNode air quality sensors across the borough, in partnership with Camden Council and The Camden Clean Air Initiative, an air pollution action group in the borough.

The network will provide at least 100x more spatial resolution and refresh 60x more regularly than the network of existing air quality reference stations in Camden, capturing and reporting hyper-local air quality data every minute to map the issue in real-time.

The data generated from the network can be used in a myriad of ways, enabling the public to map less polluted routes from A to B, feeding into local traffic management policy, and providing NHS Trusts and schools with information to help raise awareness of air pollution and protect vulnerable communities.

For more information, click here.

Lloyds Bank Plan To Become UK’s Biggest Private Landlord

Lloyds Bank is planning to become a 50,000 home build-to-rent landlord through deals with UK housebuilders, according to details revealed in a job advert posted by the organisation.

The revelation comes after the announcement from Lloyds last month that it was setting up Citra Living, which will be a standalone brand and part of the Lloyds Banking Group. The organisation has set an initial target to acquire eight hundred homes over the next two years.

At the time of the announcement, the organisation declined to reveal its longer-term plans for the new business.

Nevertheless, a job advert that was seen by the Financial Times, says the business has set a challenge for Citra Living to own 10,000 homes by 2025 and raise this to 50,000 by 2030.

Citra is the latest venture by Lloyds and is an example of institutional investment in the build-to-rent sector, which has grown from a standing start a decade ago. According to the British Property Federation the build-to-rent sector has provided more than 20,000 new build homes in the last two years.

For more information, click here.

Government Extends Deadline for Post-Brexit Certification Rules

Certification rules for construction products start date has been extended by 12 months after the government was told that sticking with the current deadline would have caused chaos across the sector.

The current CE markings, which have been used to certify products across an array of sectors in Europe since 1985, were due to be replaced by the UK Conformity Assessed (UKCA) mark in four months time.

The plan was for UKCA markings to be used from the start of next year, meaning that thousands of construction products would have been retested in UK facilities to obtain the new certifications at costs of as high as £50,000 per test.

The CE mark will continue into next year after the department for business, energy, and industrial strategy (BEIS) agreed to push back the deadline for the UKCA stamp until 1 January 2023.

The Government has blamed the impact of Covid-19 for the decision and added, “Recognising the impact of the pandemic on businesses, the government will extend this deadline to 1 January 2023 to apply UKCA marks for certain products to demonstrate compliance with product safety regulations, rather than 1 January 2022.”

However, they stated that “Businesses must take action to ensure they are ready to apply UKCA marking by 1 January 2023, the final deadline.” The exception, it said, was medical devices, where businesses will not need to use the UKCA marking until 1 July 2023.  

For more information, click here.

Cost of Skilled Site Labour Jumps 3.6% in August Alone

Cost of skilled labour on site saw an increase by 3.6% last month as inflationary pressures surged the construction supply chain.

New data from Hudson Contract shows average weekly earnings rose to £904 during July, handing workers an extra £124 over the month.

In East Midlands, labour costs hit an all-time weekly high of £1,014, with demand driven by new housing, regeneration, and infrastructure projects.

Ian Anfield, Hudson managing director, said, “The housing market is booming with the price of the average UK home increasing by nearly £25,000 over the last year.”

For more information, click here.

Hydrogen Economy Set To Support Over 9,000 UK Jobs

Tens of thousands of jobs, billions of pounds in investment, and new export opportunities will be unlocked through the government plans to create a thriving low carbon hydrogen sector in the UK. The government is planning to achieve this over the next decade and beyond, Business and Energy Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng has stated.

UK-wide hydrogen economy could be worth £900m and create more than 9,000 high-quality jobs by 2030. This could potentially rise to 100,000 jobs and be worth up to £13bn by 2050.

By 2030, hydrogen could have an important role in decarbonising polluting, energy-intensive industries like chemicals, oil refineries, power, and heavy transport like shipping, HGV lorries and trains. By helping these sectors move away from fossil fuels. Low-carbon hydrogen will provide many opportunities for UK companies and workers across the industrial heartlands.

Analysis done by the government suggests that 20-35% of the UK’s energy consumption by 2050 could be hydrogen-based. This new energy source could be critical in meeting the UK’s targets of net zero emissions by 2050 and cutting 78% of emissions by 2035.

For more information, click here.

New CEO and Name Change Announced for Highways England

Highways England & the Department for Transport revealed that the organisation will be changing its name to National Highways to reflect the company’s new focus on delivering the government’s £27bn roads investment programme.

Nick Harris will lead the organisation as it delivers the work and looks towards the future opportunities offered by automation and digitisation as well as working on delivering the government’s net-zero target.

Harris will focus on continued road safety improvements and the transformation of National Highways as a global leader in road construction and maintenance, as well as delivering world-class health and safety measures.

For more information, click here.

Peabody Plan To Build 3000 Homes per Year if Merger Goes Ahead

Peabody a major housing association in the UK intends to build more than 3,000 homes per year if its proposed merger with fellow landlord Catalyst goes ahead.

Kerslake told Housing Today that the 3,000 home figure was simply a combination of the existing developments of the two organisations. The merger will not allow the organisations to accelerate their building activity if the merger goes ahead.

Kerslake made his comments following the announcement made earlier this month of merger talks between the two social housing giants, intending to create a 104,000 home London-focused social landlord by next spring.

Both Peabody and Catalyst are G15 landlords operating in London and the wider South-East area and will have a combined staff of around 4,000 and turnover of £900m if the deal goes through.

For more information, click here.

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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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