Industry Intel

March: Property industry news headline round-up

Tina Ledger

Graphic Designer

Jul 26, 2022

Many exciting new projects and initiatives have been announced in March.

Some have been a direct response to recent events, such as the Safer Streets fund being doubled and a £56 million “Welcome Back” fund to support the opening of local high streets and coastal towns.

Other initiatives are part of a longer-term plan, such as the UK’s first-ever hydrogen transport hub and the Woodland Trust awarding £2.9m to 11 local authorities, with the aim of planting 50 million new trees by 2025.

Safer Streets for Women Fund Doubled to £45m

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has vowed to make streets safer for girls and women. The Safer Streets fund, which promotes greater police presence on funded streets, has now been doubled to £45m. This move towards safer streets comes after Sarah Everard’s death, a young woman whose abduction and subsequent death sparked anger and outrage across the country, leading hundreds to protest about the need for greater safety for girls and women.

“We are bringing in landmark legislation to toughen sentences and put more police on the streets,” says PM Boris Johnson. Johnson explains that the doubling of the Safer Streets fund will help police provide improved protection for women. Part of the fund will go toward greater lighting in high-risk areas such as parks and alleyways and more CCTV.

You can find more information here.

£5.7 million loan approved for Britain’s First LGBTQ+ Retirement Community in London

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has approved Tonic Housing’s £5.7 million loan request for Britain’s first LGBTQ+ retirement community.

The funding will be used for 19 homes in Vauxhall, Lambeth, in which elderly members of the LGBTQ+ community can enjoy their retirement in the comfort and security of a non-discriminatory, supportive community.

The homes will be available through the Older Persons Shared Ownership Scheme (OPSO). The scheme allows the purchaser to buy a share in the property, usually between 25-75%.

With funding secured, sales are set to begin this spring. A one-bedroom shared flat at Tonic Housing’s LGBTQ+ friendly retirement community is expected to cost £135,000 with 25 percent ownership. The price of a two-bedroom shared flat is expected to reach £180,000.

LGBTQ+ friendly retirement housing has been needed for a long time, claims a spokesman for Tonic Housing. Some older community members have felt scared and as though they had to hide who they were while living in retirement communities.

Tonic Housing’s new retirement community is all-inclusive. It is not only for members of the LGBTQ+ community – it’s for everyone. The community will not tolerate discrimination of any kind. It aims to provide each member with as much comfort, safety, security, and peace of mind as possible as they enjoy their retirement years.

You can find more information here.

New Guidelines for EWS1 Forms and Cladding

The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) sets new guidelines to clarify which properties require complete EWS1 forms and which do not.

The EWS1 form (external wall system) is a way for residential building owners to confirm that their building is safe and suitable for residence, as assessed by a safety expert and in line with government guidance.

The RICS updates are such that from now on, an EWS1 form is not required in cases where a valuer or lender can prove that the building work has successfully followed the Consolidated Advice Note.

According to Rics, 492 professionals are now participating in the EWS assessment training course. When qualified, these professionals will be able to carry out assessments on medium and low-rise buildings.

The new guidelines will be implemented on April 5. The RICS will help consumers better understand that process by providing a written guide.

The change means that around half a million leaseholders will not need an EWS1 form. As a result, homeowners can remortgage and sell with greater ease.

RICS’ new guidelines have received the support of Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick MP, UK Finance and the Building Societies Association, and £700,000 in government funding.

You can find more information here.

“Welcome Back” to High Streets and Coastal Areas

A £56 million “welcome back” fund has been approved to support high streets and coastal towns as they open this summer following a series of restrictive lockdown measures.

The fund can be used to help local businesses promote and grow their businesses through signage, seating, publicity campaigns, and event preparation.

With so much of normal life having been put on the back burner for so much of the past year, the welcome back fund will help local businesses and consumers alike enjoy their communities together again safely.

Robert Jenrick, Communities secretary, says the first 70 councils to receive support from the High Streets Task Force have already been selected. “We need to get behind our local businesses and enjoy all that this country has to offer”, says Mr Jenrick.

You can find more information here.

Masterplan’ Revealed for UK’s First Ever Hydrogen Transport Hub

The government has invested £3 million in the UK’s first hydrogen transport hub, which aims to be fully operational by 2025.

The hub, being built in Tees Valley, may help to create up to 5,000 news jobs in the area, with more jobs projected to be created as the economy levels up.

The project will increase prosperity across the country while establishing the UK as a global leader in hydrogen technology. With this increase and improvement in hydrogen transport technology, the UK will soon be able to use it across all modes of transport and will be significantly closer to meeting its 2050 net-zero ambitions.

“Teesside, Darlington, and Hartlepool are the forefront of powering forward the UK’s clean energy ambitions”, says Ben Houchen, Tees Valley Mayor.

The hub will inform the UK about the role of hydrogen in meeting our 2050 clean energy goals. It will inform how investments will be made moving forwards and will reveal high-quality export opportunities.

You can find more information here.

Jenrick’s £212m Mission To “End Rough Sleeping”

The government is encouraging local authorities to invest in a £212m fund to tackle rough sleeping in the UK. The fund aims to provide those sleeping rough with suitable, long-term accommodation.

The fund will be used to create up to 6,000 new homes across the country by the end of Parliament. It will build on the widely-praised ‘Everyone In’ campaign, which began at the start of the pandemic and has since supported over 37,000 people in finding suitable long-term accommodation.

The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) criticised the government’s official estimates of the prevalence of rough sleeping in the country after the emergency COVID-19 initiative revealed the number of rough sleepers was almost nine times the government’s estimate.

Local authorities have welcomed the £212m fund. Many have urged the government to ensure that such support will continue and that the goal of ending rough sleeping once and for all will not only be met with a once-off emergency response.

You can find more information here.

MP’s to Examine Role Local Government Can Play in Reaching 2050 Net-Zero Goals

Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced in December 2020 that the UK plans to reach net-zero emissions by 2050. The plan, which aims to reduce carbon emission by 68 percent by 2030, will make the UK the fastest at greenhouse gas emission reduction out of any major economy.

In response to the plan, which followed PM Johnson’s Ten Point Plan for greener energy, MP’s will inquire about the role local authorities can effectively play in reducing their carbon footprint, their role in setting and enforcing local energy efficiency standards.

You can find more information here.

Woodland Trust awards 11 Local Authorities with £2.9m Emergency Tree Fund

Woodland Trust, the UK’s largest woodland conservation charity, has awarded £2.9m to 11 local authorities in their Emergency Tree Fund. The fund will support Woodland Trust’s mission to plant 50 million new trees by 2025.

Local authorities already have ambitious plans to plant new trees and support environmental conservation, but the pandemic has hindered the progress.

Belfast City Council, Edinburgh Council, Cardiff Council, and Sheffield City Council are among the 11 local authorities awarded with funding. The funding will support local authorities in becoming ‘tree champions’ by creating woodland that supports people’s mental health, reducing carbon in the atmosphere, and combating pollution.

You can find more information here.

Home Office Cracks Down on False Modern Slavery Victim Claims

A rising number of people are making false claims that they have been victims of modern slavery to remain in the country. As of March 2021, local authorities will train frontline staff to more accurately recognise genuine modern slavery victims to reduce the number of false claims.

The changes will help frontline workers more accurately assess accounts of modern slavery victimhood, which will make it harder for serious criminal and failed asylum seekers to access the support available for genuine victims.

Aside from cracking down on false victims, the changes will also increase and improve the support available for genuine victims of modern slavery in the UK.

You can find more information here.

MP’s Vote Down Fire Safety Bill

This week, MPs voted down a proposal to offer protection to leaseholders and tenants from paying fire safety remediation costs. The proposal was voted down in favour of allocating the financial responsibility to the government and recovering that money later from developers.

Housing minister Chris Pincher said the government could not support the proposal because it was “unworkable and impractical”.

He said: “They will make legislation less clear; they do not reflect the complexity involved in apportioning liability for remedial defects,” he said.

Tory MP Royston Smith said leaseholders were being forced to stump up thousands of pounds to resolve issues that were not their fault.

You can find more information here.

£562m Housing Retrofit Drive “Simply Not Enough”

Business secretary Kwasi Kwarteng and housing minister Chris Pincher have announced that 200 local authorities will be granted a share of £562m to improve some of the least energy-efficient homes in the UK.

The announcement was met with some criticism by Alan Jones, president of the Riba. Though he was pleased that the government is prioritising energy-efficiency in low-income homes, he said that the funding allocated was “simply not enough” given the real scale of the problem.

The Green Homes Grant Scheme will oversee £500m of the spending, while the other £62m will come from the Social Housing Decarbonisation Fund Demonstrator.

You can find more information here.

Housing Associations Discuss Merger Plan for 44,000 Properties Under One Landlord

PA Housing and Accent Group are in ‘early discussions’ about merger plans. The housing association, both of which are some of the largest in the UK, are discussing a potential merger, which would place 44,000 homes under one landlord.

The merger would cover homes and properties across London, the South-east, the Midlands, and the North.

You can find more information 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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