Industry Intel

June Industry News Headline Round-Up; Property, Environmental Health & Housing.

Tina Ledger

Graphic Designer

Jul 27, 2022

There have been many updates in the housing industry this month. A new partnership has been developed between Stonewater and Greenoak Housing Associations, and it has been revealed that thousands of new homes will need to reapply for planning permission.

More funding has also been allocated to four major transport schemes, and Amnesty International has released a damning report about housing standards in the UK. The Royal Institute of Chartered Accountants is also undergoing changes due to a new review that has just been published.

Find out more in our latest industry roundup!

Stonewater and Greenoak Housing Associations Enter New Partnership

Leading social housing providers, Stonewater and Greenoak Housing Associations, have announced their intention to enter into a new partnership that will help deliver many more sustainable new homes. Both parties are still agreeing on the details of the deal, but some key points of the agreement include:

  • Greenoak becoming a subsidiary of Stonewater for two years and then becoming part of the Stonewater group.
  • transferring management of 600 Stonewater homes to Greenoak on a phased basis.
  • establishing a national Centre of Excellence for zero-carbon development which will drive sustainability.
  • expansion of apprenticeship opportunities and direct service provision through pilot schemes to support the development of trades skills to help with the delivery of zero-carbon projects.
  • the creation of a future-proof strategy for selected developments to help with the provision of energy-efficient, sustainable homes.

The Chief Executive at Stonewater, Nicholas Harris, stated that: “There is a strong, natural fit between Greenoak and Stonewater, particularly in the areas of social ethos, customer care and commitment to the Net Zero agenda.”

The final decision of the partnership is expected towards the end of the year, with talks continuing to finalise details and discuss other issues.

For more information, click here.

Nearly 10,000 New Build Homes Need to Reapply for Planning Permission

Due to new environmental rules, almost 10,000 new homes will need to reapply for planning permission. A leaked letter revealed a delay in critically important technology is putting an emissions target for the government in doubt.

A government source has stated that builders on larger sites will almost certainly need to reapply for planning consent, as many would not be able to start construction by the end of a transition period between the old and new rules. Although these changes will not affect houses that have already been built or reserved, they will likely affect further house building in the UK.

Approximately one in four new build homes will not be able to meet new environmental standards because of a lack of software. In a letter to the Housing Secretary Michael Gove, the Home Builders Federation criticised a lack of planning from the government, which has led to much uncertainty amongst house builders and had caused ‘widespread delay’.

The delay has also been criticised by environmental campaigners, including Greenpeace, who stated that although the carbon-cutting policies could have had some hope of improving housing efficiency standards, it is vital that the government implements the carbon testing technology as much as possible.

For more information, click here.

Air Quality Improvements Are ‘Not as Fast as Expected’

According to auditors, the government programme tackling air pollution is progressing more slowly than expected. The National Audit Office has stated that it is not yet on track to achieve set targets for reducing pollution, despite estimates that it would only take three years or less to implement new standards.

The Joint Air Quality Unit was established in 2016 to tackle illegal levels of nitrogen dioxide air pollution. 64 local authorities were identified to have potentially illegal levels of nitrogen dioxide, but as of April 2022, only 14 had implemented all of the measures to bring the levels down. However, a further 16 were already compliant.

It has been acknowledged that COVID-19 has caused significant delays, but the government has also not communicated air quality issues or proposed solutions to the public.

For more information, click here.

‘Clean Air Net Zero’ Approach Could Boost Local Areas by £1.6bn

A new study from UK100, a network of national and regional leaders committed to delivering net-zero ahead of the 2050 target set by the government, has argued that net-zero policies should include a clean air audit. The report has argued that nothing has been learned from ‘dieselgate’, in which diesel vehicles were promoted as a climate-friendly alternative while disregarding the air pollution emitted by diesel engines.

A Clean Air Net Zero Approach (CANZ) was recommended in the report, which would help support a transport shift away from private cars, which is estimated to boost both local and regional economies by £1.6bn a year.

Polly Billington, the chief executive of UK100, stated: “While it might feel like the scandal is firmly in our rearview mirrors, one of the most important lessons of ‘dieselgate’ was that we cannot and must not divorce clean air and climate policies. Our new report demonstrates that acting on these issues together is easier than some might think.”

For more information, click here.

New Tool to Help Councils Plan Safer Active Travel Schemes

The Road Safety Foundation has launched a free new planning tool to help authorities make active travel safer. The interactive tool will help people explore which facilities would make walking and cycling safer for users, including assessing how different facilities would perform in terms of levels of traffic stress as well as iRAP Star Ratings.

The tool helps assess which types of pedestrians and cyclists would feel comfortable using a particular road with various facilities and would help make active travel more attractive, which would help more people make the switch. It has been developed in partnership with Transport for Greater Manchester and the county councils for Kent, Hampshire, Staffordshire, West Sussex, and Warwickshire.

For more information, click here.

Four Major Transport Schemes to Receive £160m in Funding

Four road and bridge schemes have been selected to receive a share of £160.8m in funding, with three of the projects being classed under the Major Road Network (MRN) and one being a Large Local Major.

The schemes include two maintenance projects for bridges, including £35.3m for the Tyne Bridge in Newcastle and £13.4m for the A35 Redbridge Causeway that connects Southampton to the New Forest. Another £78.5m has been earmarked for a new 3.85 mile road that will link St Austell to the A30, and £33.6m is for enhancing walking and cycling accessibility and addressing congestion across the A34 between Stockport and Greater Manchester.

Baroness Vere, Roads Minister, stated that the investment would level up communities across the country and give motorists, cyclists, and pedestrians modern, safe, uncongested roads. It is also estimated that the four schemes will generate £659.3m in economic benefits.

For more information, click here.

RICS to Remain a ‘Truly International Institution’

The leadership of the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) has stated that the institution should continue to be truly international following the publication of a review into its proposed future. The long-awaited review was launched after a governance scandal which led to four of the most senior members of the organisation resigning.

The 68-page report proposes several reforms designed to prevent future governance mishaps, including a more transparent reporting structure, a shakeup of senior roles, and more influence for its members. Michael Bichard, who reviewed the institution and created the report, also proposed that RICS should continue to expand its overseas influence, despite criticism that this has left the UK underrepresented.

Further suggestions outlined in the report include abolishing the governing council chair, with the role set to be removed on 5th October, and the role of the chief executive to be replaced by a new director-general. Bichard stated that the new governance structure will be much more straightforward and less likely to encounter the problems that occurred in 2018 and 2019.

For more information, click here.

More Firms Sign Cladding Pledge

Eight more firms have added their names to the government’s cladding pledge, under which housebuilders commit to removing unsafe cladding from blocks more than eleven metres high.

Major builders, including Weston Homes, Robertson and Story Group, and Hopkin Homes, have signed the pledge, with many more adding their names according to an update from the Levelling Up, Housing and Communities department (DLUHC).

For more information, click here.

Homes England Appoints First Chief Operating Officer

Chief Operating Officer of the Care Quality Commission, Kirsty Shaw, has been confirmed as the Chief Operating Officer of Homes England. Kirsty is set to join the government’s housing and regeneration agency in September and will be working closely with Peter Denton, CEO of Homes England.

She will also be working with the Executive Leadership Team to ensure that the agency is properly organised to deliver its housing and regeneration objectives.

Kirsty said: “I’m delighted to be joining Homes England as its first COO and am looking forward to helping to build the skills and capabilities the agency needs to help it deliver the significant programme of building homes, unlocking land, and helping to support the Government’s Levelling Up ambitions.”

For more information, click here.

One in Three People Are Worried about Homelessness in the Next Five Years

A report by the international charity Amnesty has called for housing to be enshrined into law as a human right. Their recent report, entitled ‘An Obstacle Course: Homelessness Assistance and the Right to Housing in England’, has found that people are being locked out as local authorities ration their housing supply and has stated that housing in England is not fit for purpose.

Along with polling from market research company Savanta ComRes, the report found that nearly one in three people feared that they would be homeless or in temporary accommodation within the next five years because of the rising cost of housing. However, the polling, which was carried out in May 2022, found that 54% of people assumed that people were homeless because of personal reasons, and only 36% of people blamed the government.

Sacha Deshmukh, Chief Executive of Amnesty International UK, stated that people experiencing homelessness face an obstacle course to qualify for housing and that there is not enough housing to meet the growing need.

Amnesty has described the criteria for accessing housing help ‘outdated and cruel’, stating that it forces scared people into accepting inadequate accommodation.

For more information, click here.

Share this article

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.

More from our blog