Industry Intel

September: Property industry news headline round-up

Tina Ledger

Graphic Designer

Jul 27, 2022

September has seen many people step down from powerful positions – from Robert Jenrick being sacked as Housing Secretary to senior figures at the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors quitting in the wake of a scandal.

In environment-related news, the UK’s first Zero Emission Zone is set to be trialed in Oxford in February 2022, and the House of Lords have pressured the government to tackle the issue of air pollution.

The housebuilding market has seen tremendous news, with the London Mayor revealing a deal for 30,000 more affordable homes, Homes England announcing a new land purchasing system, and the Housing Growth Partnership II aiming to support SMEs with a £300m fund.

Read our latest blog to find out the latest in housing and property news.

Robert Jenrick Removed as Communities Secretary

The former Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government Robert Jenrick has been sacked and replaced by Michael Gove in the latest government cabinet reshuffle, having served since 2019. He has not been offered another top-table job.

Previously exchequer secretary, Jenrick stated that it was a huge privilege to hold the position for two years, tweeting that he was “deeply proud of all that we achieved.”

A statement by 10 Downing Street said, “Robert Jenrick has led crucial work over the last two years, most importantly driving reforms to build more houses, so homeownership becomes a reality for many more people.”

During Jenricks tenure, Jenrick faced multiple criticisms, including:

  • Unlawfully approving the Westferry Printworks scheme
  • Taking trips to second homes during a national lockdown
  • Failing to resolve the cladding crisis

Michael Gove has previously fulfilled the shadow housing minister’s role and has held roles for education, the environment, and justice. Gove was welcomed by Crispin Truman, Chief Executive of CPRE, Royal Town Planning Institute Chief Executive Victoria Hills, and Eddie Tuttle, Director of Policy at the Chartered Institute of Building.

For more information about Jenrick’s departure, click here. To read more about Gove replacing him, click here.

First Zero Emission Zone in the United Kingdom to Launch in 2021

Oxford City Council and Oxfordshire County Council have confirmed that the first Zero Emission Zone (ZEZ) pilot will take place next February. In the scheme, drivers of the most heavily polluting vehicles will be charged if they drive in key city centre streets between 7am and 7pm.

If the trial is successful, it will pave the way for both councils to roll out a much larger ZEZ covering most of Oxford city centre. It’s been scheduled for February to avoid causing undue disruption to the busy run-up to Christmas.

For more information, click here.

Sadiq Khan Makes Deal for 30,000 Affordable Homes

The Mayor of London has struck a deal with the government to secure funding for thousands of affordable homes in the next five years, with £3.46bn funding for 29,456 homes agreed with housing associations and councils.

Around 60% of these homes (16,739) will be made available for the cheapest social rent, with the rest being up for shared ownership and London living rent.

Cllr Darren Rodwell, London Councils’ Executive Member for Housing & Planning, welcomed the deal, calling it a much-needed boost to the London housing market.

For more information, click here.

£300m Provided for Housebuilders

The Housing Growth Partnership II is funded by Homes England and Lloyds Banking Group and aims to support small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) with a £300m fund.

This money should help SMEs and regional housebuilders build 10,000 new homes by the end of 2025 and help a range of housing projects, including regeneration, retirement living, and build to rent.

For more information, click here.

Prime Minister Announces Health and Social Care Reforms

Boris Johnson has reneged on a manifesto pledge stating that he would not raise tax or National Insurance (NI) and announced a 1.25% rise in NI, with the money to support the NHS post-COVID backlog.

Mr. Johnson’s plans also include a £86,000 social care cap with a floor of £100,000. Anyone who has assets of less than £20,000 is to be excluded from having to contribute. It’s thought that £36bn will be raised in this scheme, with most of it expected to go towards the NHS backlog.

Mr. Johnson recognised that he was deviating from Conservative manifesto commitments, but only as a response to an unforeseen global pandemic.

For more information, click here.

New Code for Construction Products Launched Following Grenfell Tower

The new code will be called the Code for Construction Product Information and was developed by CPA’s Marketing Integrity Group (MIG) in response to Dame Judith Hackitt’s 2018 building safety report.

This report focused on preventing fires like Grenfell Tower, which killed seventy-two people and made hundreds homeless. It found that the way that construction products were marketed, tested, and presented needed to be improved.

The new code will have eleven clauses that product manufacturers will need to adhere to and will be run by Construction Product Information Ltd, a not-for-profit and independently governed organisation.

This follows on from a government announcement in January that a new construction products regulator can ask for any product to be removed from the market if it is found to have a significant safety risk. This will be a criminal offence rather than civil, and companies who flout these rules could risk prosecution.

For more information, click here.

Amendments to Building Safety Bill Debated in Parliament

Twelve changes to existing clauses and the introduction of sixteen new clauses were suggested by backbench and opposition MPs. One of the suggested amendments would include any owner of a residential unit being classed as a relevant person, which would give them protection from the regulator.

Other suggested changes would allow for VAT to be recovered on building safety works since 14th June 2017, and the period for claims under the Defective Premises Act and the Building Act extended from fifteen to twenty-five years.

For more information, click here.

New Land Purchasing System Launched

From 6th September, the launch of the new Delivery Partner Dynamic Purchasing System (DPS) should ensure that housebuilders will find it easier to access Homes England land.

DPS will replace the Delivery Partner Panel 3 (DPP3) and will deliver a dynamic purchasing system where housebuilders can join the agency’s list of preferred developers whenever they like, rather than having to wait for the list to be renewed as per the former system.

Stephen Kinsella, Chief Land and Development Officer at Homes England, stated that they had also made their application process simpler to apply to and had recently updated their Land Hub.

The first applications to the DPS opened earlier this year, with sixty-six housebuilders now being appointed. Twenty-four of these are small-to-medium sized businesses. The application process is proportionate to the size of the site the developer wishes to bid for, which should make it easier for smaller developers to access.

For more information, click here.

Senior Figures at Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) Step Down Following Scandal

Included in the four senior employees who quit following Alison Levitt QC’s report into its governance, calling it a “disaster waiting to happen” was the chief executive and president of RICS.

The report found that an extended multi-million-pound overdraft and poor cash flow management was exacerbated by RICS’ two-board system being frequently circumvented by senior management, leading to a huge power imbalance. Sean Tompkins and Kathleen Fontana also stepped down from their jobs. It’s thought that a process is underway to appoint a new interim chief executive.

Alison Levitt QC carried out the review following news of four non-executive directors being ousted in 2019 after finding out about a 2018 financial report by accountant BDO stating that the organisation was at risk of “unidentified fraud, misappropriation of funds and misreporting of financial performance.”

For more information, click here.

House of Lords Pressure Government on Clean Air

The House of Lords has voted on an amendment to the Environment Bill that obliges the government to reduce levels of particulate matter (PM2.5) to World Health Organization (WHO) standards by 2030 at the latest. The vote passed by 181 to 159.

Currently, the UK legal limits for PM2.5 are double what the WHO recommends. A recent report in the British Journal of Psychiatry found that traffic-related air pollution correlates with increased mental health service use.

Katie Nield, a lawyer at environmental law charity ClientEarth, stated, “fine particulate matter is one of the most harmful pollutants there is – even at very low concentrations.”

The Bill will move through the House of Lords this month and return to the Commons, where MPs will consider the amendments.

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 resilience and ability to flourish under pressure, and you’ve got yourself a cracking recruiter.

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