Industry Intel

June: Property industry news headline round-up

Tina Ledger

Graphic Designer

Jul 26, 2022

The last month has been a busy one for the construction industry!

The UK is witnessing a huge shortage of a wide array of construction materials ranging from plasterboard to electrical equipment, and a massive 443 home scheme on the banks of the River Thames has been cancelled by Robert Jenrick.

The government has announced new pilot schemes to tackle homelessness, and local councils have seen their funding increase in the battle against air pollution. Peter Denton has been announced as the new Chief Executive of Homes England, and the Government is looking for a new Head of Architecture to replace former PRP chief Andy von Bradsky.

Read on below to find out more.

443 Home Scheme on Banks of the Thames Cancelled by Robert Jenrick

Robert Jenrick, Secretary of State for Housing, has cancelled the £500m scheme to change the London Fire Brigade’s former art deco headquarters on the banks of the Thames into houses.

Developed by U&I and designed by architects Pilbrow & Partners, the project was set to provide 443 homes, of which 40% were affordable housing. However, the project was cancelled over potential harm to heritage assets and loss of daylight impacting on nearby residents after a public enquiry.

Jenrick said that the proposed two towers of twenty-six and twenty-four storeys would cause serious harm to views of the Palace of Westminster World Heritage Site (WHS) from Primrose Hill and Parliament Hill in north London.

Jenrick also said there “would be harm to the living condition of residents by reason of significant loss of daylight to windows and habitable rooms.”

A spokesperson for U&I said the plans had been ten years in the making. They added, “we are incredibly disappointed by this decision, and we’ll be considering our next steps together with the London Fire Brigade.”

Read more here.

Construction Materials Shortage Set To Increase for “Months”

The Construction Leadership Council (CLC) has warned that an unprecedented materials shortage in the construction sector will continue well into the second half of 2021.

According to the Builders Merchants Federation (BDF) and Construction Projects Association, timber, roof tiles, and bagged cement are some of the materials in shortest supply. Insulation boards are also facing a supply squeeze, with contractors now looking for alternatives to PIR insulation. Also, plasterboard suppliers are now struggling to meet demand.

The lack of hauliers has now been described as a critical nationwide problem due to the impact of Brexit and 30,000 HGV driver tests being postponed due to COVID-19. A backlog in China’s Pearl River Delta has forced hundreds of ships to wait to dock, causing a huge electrical product shortage.

Read more here.

Private Investors and Government To Buy £30M Homelessness Accommodation

A new pilot scheme will see the government match a £15m investment from social impact investor Big Society Capital to provide two-hundred move-on homes for rough sleepers and those at risk of homelessness.

This pilot scheme is set to run for three years in Greater Manchester, London, and Teeside, with a smaller amount of homes provided elsewhere in the country.

The grant will fund the purchase of existing housing from the property market in partnership with local organisations and make them available at local housing authority rent levels to ensure they remain affordable.

Tailored support from charities and social enterprises that specialise in housing vulnerable people will be available to help residents maintain their tenancies, including addiction services, education, and employment support, and counseling.

Read more here.

Increase Funding for Local Authorities To Hit New Legal Targets on Air Pollution

Ministers have agreed to increase the Air Quality Grant scheme for local authorities by £6m a year and launch a public awareness campaign about air pollution in response to the Coroner’s Prevention of Future Deaths Report.

The report was published after the coroner ruled exposure to excessive air pollution contributed to the death of schoolgirl Ella Kissi-Debrah in 2013. The ruling stated that exposure to excessive air pollution contributed to her death by exacerbating her severe asthma.

Read more here.

Councils Receive Extra COVID Support As Lockdown Easing Delayed

The Government has announced additional support to help Birmingham, Blackpool, Cheshire East, Cheshire West and Chester, Liverpool City Region, and Warrington tackle the Delta variant of COVID-19. The same package of support was also given to Bolton, which has since seen a decrease in cases.

The news of the extra support came on the same day as the Prime Minister announced a four-week delay to the planned easing of lockdown on 21st June. Mr Johnson says the terminus date for the end of lockdown will now be 19th July.

The additional support for the council areas named includes surge testing, tracing, isolation support, and maximising vaccine uptake. It follows a similar announcement last week relating to Greater Manchester and Lancashire County Council areas.

Read more here.

Council Tax Debt Rises to £4.4Bn

According to new figures, the council tax debt increased by £841m last year due to the pandemic delaying recovery action. As of March 2021, the total amount outstanding was £4.4bn. At the same time, the amount of non-domestic rates outstanding increased by £1.1bn since 2019-20 to £2.5bn.

Debt charity StepChange warned that councils should not use aggressive tactics to recoup council tax debt. It is calling on the Government to introduce legislation to prevent bailiff action for council tax debt and make the temporary increase in Hardship Funding permanent.

Read more here.

Twenty-Six Towns to Share £600m New Town Deal To Boost Economy

The New Town Deals are designed to boost local economies, create new jobs and homes, and improve local skills.

The funding will also create greener transport infrastructure and help renovate tourist attractions. So far, seventy-nine New Town Deals have been agreed with a total of £2bn invested.

Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick stated, “This will support locally-led projects to transform disused buildings and public spaces, deliver new green transport and create new opportunities for people to develop new skills. This is a boost for communities and businesses across England.”

Read more here.

Forty Areas to Receive £18m Fund to Make Their Streets Safer

The Government has announced the forty areas that will share more than £18m to make streets safer and crackdown on neighbourhood crime.

The money from the Safer Streets Fund will enable areas to install more street lighting, CCTV, locked gates around alleyways, and neighbourhood watch schemes.

The third round of the Safer Streets Fund has also opened, providing the police with £25m to help make women and girls feel safer on the streets.

Association of Police and Crime Commissioners Prevention lead Roger Hirst explained: “This additional £25m fund has been made available to PCCs to deliver a range of interventions including CCTV, street lighting, educational products, and neighbourhood watch schemes.”

Read more here.

Peter Denton Announced As the New Chief Executive of Homes England

Peter Denton, chief executive of Hyde Group and former investment banker, will take over at the helm of the agency later this year to lead a reset in the funding agency. He will be responsible for administering a new £11.5bn Affordable Homes Programme and a stake of around £14bn in homes acquired through the Help to Buy scheme.

Chair of Homes England, Peter Freeman, said, “Peter brings two powerful qualities to Homes England. He has deep experience of real estate banking and investment, including raising funds and managing portfolios across Europe. This will be invaluable in raising additional capital from the private sector to support Homes England’s Government funded work.”

Robert Jenrick, Secretary of State for Housing, added: “I am delighted to welcome Peter Denton as chief executive of Homes England, as part of an important reset for the organisation. Together with Peter Freeman, he will lead the renewal of Homes England, focussing on levelling-up and regeneration, high-quality new housing and infrastructure and supporting small and medium builders to create a more dynamic and competitive housing market.”

Read more here

Government Seeks New Head of Architecture

The government has officially begun its hunt for a new Head of Architecture to replace former PRP chief Andy von Bradsky who announced his departure last week.

The Grade 6 post has been advertised on the civil service website with the location given as either London or Wolverhampton, where the housing ministry is due to open a second headquarters in Glenn Howells’ i9 building. In a first for a departmental centre outside of the capital, it is set to have a regular ministerial presence with senior civil servants based in the building.

The Head of Architecture role comes with a salary of £63,465 for London-based applicants or £57,446 for those who choose to work from the West Midlands. A further £1,000 is available for exceptional candidates.

Read more here.

Government To Continue Addressing the Underlying Issues Causing Homelessness

Secretary of State for Housing, Robert Jenrick, has set out government plans to build on the hugely successful Everyone In programme through a renewed focus on cross-agency cooperation involving local NHS trusts, Public Health England, and councils to tackle the complex root causes of rough sleeping.

The government’s unprecedented Everyone In initiative was launched by the Housing Secretary at the start of the pandemic to protect rough sleepers – some of the most vulnerable people in our communities – and has so far supported over 37,000 individuals, with more than 26,000 already moved on to longer-term accommodation.  

Joined-up support services, bringing together central government, councils, charities, and welfare groups, will work side-by-side to tackle the underlying issues of rough sleeping, such as healthcare and substance misuse.

Councils have also been asked to refresh local plans to end rough sleeping and to agree operational targets for reducing rough sleeping in their area this year.

This comes alongside the £750m committed by the government to tackle homelessness and rough sleeping this year, as part of the commitment to end rough sleeping during this Parliament.   

Read more here.

£1.1 Million Fund Announced To Test the Use of Digital Tools and Data Standards Across Ten Local Areas

This grant fund will be used to implement a pathfinder programme across ten councils to test the use of digital tools in the planning process with the ultimate goal of making it more accessible and interactive.

By introducing a digital system that makes plans map-based and accessible online, local people will be able to engage with planning in their local area, which will help get homes built quicker.

Councils will test how existing local plans translate into the new system, including moving away from long text documents to an interactive map with accompanying annotation documents and adapting existing site allocation policies into the proposed land categorisation format.

This will enable planners to understand the impact of proposed land designations and associated policy implications on land allocations and inform a wide range of policies across the reform programme.

The ten bids from local councils to be selected are:

  1. Newcastle City Council and Gateshead Council
  2. Stratford upon Avon District Council and Warwick District Council
  3. Plymouth City Council, South Hams District Council, and West Devon Borough Council
  4. Dacorum Borough Council
  5. Broxbourne Borough Council
  6. Birmingham City Council
  7. East Suffolk Council
  8. London Borough Hounslow
  9. Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea
  10. Ashford Borough Council

Read more 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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