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UK Local Government Association calls for new build fibre to the premises kitemark

The UK’s Local Government Association (LGA) has called for housing developers to adopt council proposals for a fibre to the premises (FTTP) kitemark for new build homes to make it clear to prospective buyers what they can from the internet connection in their new property.

Developers currently only have an obligation to connect water and electricity before a property is sold. And, said the LGA, while the government’s new draft of the National Planning Policy Framework aims to help councils encourage developers to provide FTTP connections to existing and new developments, it does not give them powers to hold developers to account. The association believes that introducing a new FTTP kitemark is a common-sense proposal that will make it clear to the public whether or not their new home will have a fully future-proofed internet connection.

Cllr Mark Hawthorne, chairman of the LGA’s people and places board, said: ‘The standard of digital connectivity we provide to our new build homes should reflect our national ambition to roll out world-class digital infrastructure across the country. Residents will no longer tolerate digital connectivity taking a backseat in developers’ plans.

‘We call on the government, homebuilders and the broadband industry to work with us and develop the details of this proposal and give homebuyers the confidence to invest in a new home, knowing they won’t be stuck in the digital slow lane.’

Mark Collins, director strategy and policy at CityFibre has responded to the announcement. He said: ‘Access to high-quality internet access is of enormous importance to UK residents, with around one in three admitting that it has become as important to them as electricity, gas and water, and a quarter going as far as saying that they couldn’t function without it.

‘We also know that having access to next generation internet access delivered over full fibre infrastructure can add significant value to property – a figure that’s been calculated to be worth at least £7 billion nationally over the next 15 years.

‘Full fibre is the only infrastructure capable of delivering the reliable gigabit speed services and futureproofed capacity the UK needs. We fully support the LGA’s call for the launch of a FTTP kitemark, which will give full fibre – the gold standard in internet connectivity – the status and recognition it deserves.

‘Consumers have been misled for decades by advertising practices which allow copper-based broadband products to be advertised as ‘fibre’. The introduction of a kitemark, however, will help consumers know what they are paying for and what standard they should expect.

‘By improving awareness and increasing demand for that gold standard, consumers, government, local authorities and industry can collaboratively drive the roll-out of full fibre across the UK, helping it to catch up with the rest of the world.

‘Ultimately, this isn’t just about residential broadband speeds, this is about driving real and meaningful economic growth in all parts of the country for the long term. The FTTH Council in the USA, has calculated that providing full fibre to just half of all premises in any given location could result in a 1.1 per cent rise in annual GDP. This figure applied to our own research based on 100 UK town and city economies, suggests an economic impact in excess of £120 billion. This is a figure that cannot be ignored.’

Fibre has been high on the agenda for the UK government, with the 2018 Spring statement revealing the first wave of allocated funding under its Local Full Fibre Network (LFFN) scheme, which will provide more than £95 million for 13 areas across the UK (see UK government allocates £95 million for 13 local full-fibre broadband projects in first wave of funding).

Source: Fibre Systems

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Space on brownfield land to build up to one million new homes

There is enough space on brownfield land to build at least a million new homes, research by the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) has found.

The analysis of Brownfield Land Registers reveals that over two thirds of these homes could be deliverable within five years, and many of these sites are in areas that have a high need for housing.

CPRE found that the 17,656 sites identified by local planning authorities, covering over 28,000 hectares of land, would provide enough land for at least 1,052,124 new homes, which it says could rise to over 1.1 million once all registers are published.

According to CPRE, this means that three of the next five years’ worth of government housing targets could be met through building on brownfield land that has already been identified.

This would ease pressure on councils being pushed to release greenfield land, and would mean that less of the UK’s countryside would be used for new builds.

London, the north west, and the south west were identified as having the highest number of potential deliverable homes, with the new registers giving minimum housing estimates of 267,859, 160,785 and 132,263 respectively.

The registers found sites for over 400,000 homes that have not yet come forward for planning permission, despite the “urgent need” to move sites towards development.

More than a third of these sites are on publicly owned land, and CPRE argues that as public authority developments should give a significant opportunity to provide affordable homes, it provides an opportunity for homes to be built on brownfield land to help towards local need.

Additionally, further analysis showed that there is brownfield capacity wherever there is threat to the green belt.

It found that in a number of areas with an extremely high number of green belt sites proposed for development, local authorities have identified enough brownfield land to fulfil up to 12 years of housing need.

Rebecca Pullinger, planning campaigner at the Campaign to Protect Rural England, called it “fantastic news” that authorities have identified so many brownfield sites that are ready to be developed.

She said: “Contrary to what the government, and other commentators have said, brownfield sites are also available in areas with high housing pressure.

“Indeed, our analysis is conservative with its estimates of potential number of homes that could be built – the figure could much higher if density is increased and if more registers looked at small sites.”

She called on the government to amend its guidance to ensure that councils have identified all of the brownfield sites in their areas, and to improve incentives to build on these sites and ensure that they follow through on their commitment for all new builds to be on brownfield first.

In order to make use of suitable brownfield land, CPRE has called on the government to use the upcoming review of the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) to introduce a “brownfield first” approach to land release and granting planning permissions for development.

It argues that local authorities must be empowered to refuse planning permission for greenfield sites where there are suitable brownfield alternatives.

Source: Public Sector Executive

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LendInvest completes £16m development deal in three weeks

Property finance lender LendInvest has completed a £16m financing deal with established development finance borrower, Yogo Group, in just three weeks.

The development finance loan will fund the part-conversion and rebuild of a Grade II listed building, the former Thomas Lipton Care Home, as well as the construction of new units.

LendInvest completed this loan in record time of three weeks from initial introduction to site purchase, after the borrower was let down at the last minute by another lender. If finance had not been secured immediately the borrower would have lost the site to another potential buyer.

Steve Larkin, director of development at LendInvest, said: “Time is undeniably crucial for any developer. In this instance it was make or break, with the developer facing the prospect of losing a coveted site to other purchasers having been let down by their initial lender.

“Our team went the extra mile to ensure that this did not happen again, delivering fast, and affordable finance in record time.

“Working with an award-winning developer is always a comfort for a lender, and we have full confidence in the Yogo Group to deliver the quality bespoke living spaces they are so well known for.”

After completion, the project in its entirely will deliver 24 apartments and six houses, ranging from one to four bed units of bespoke design and available for first-time buyers.

The site is in Southgate, Enfield, North London and sits in five acres of its own grounds, providing privacy for prospective buyers and tenants.

Construction is expected to be completed by March 2019. The total gross development value is forecast to exceed £26m

George Philippou, managing director of Yogo Group, added: “Yogo Group is delighted to be working with LendInvest to deliver another one of its high quality residential developments in a unique enclave of Southgate.

“We would like to express our immense gratitude to LendInvest who have been extremely supportive of Yogo Group not only by funding the majority of the scheme but also by achieving the unachievable and ensuring a quick and smooth three week completion.

“The service and support provided by LendInvest and its lending managers have been exemplary.”

Daniel O’Neil of SPF Private Clients introduced and advised on the deal.

Source: Mortgage Introducer

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New £25m ‘build to rent’ scheme proposed for Belfast

PLANS have been revealed for a new £25 million ‘build to rent’ apartment building in the east bank area of Belfast city centre.

The proposal, being brought forward by a joint venture between the local property developer, Vinder Capital, and Oisin Quinn of London-based developer Aldgate Developments, is the second of its kind in Belfast, following the planned 19 storey development on Academy Street in the city.

The ‘build to rent’ model sees apartments purpose-built for rental only, with ownership retained by the building owner. A management company then provides additional services such as 24/7 security, communal space and cafes for long-term tenancies. Aimed at the ‘millennial’ generation, who choose to rent or can’t yet afford to buy, it has already become a successful model in other UK cities such as London and Manchester.

The proposed Belfast development, to be known as ‘The Residence at Quay Gate’ will be located on a current surface level car park at Scrabo Street in an area south of the Lagan Bridge. The proposed building, designed by Belfast based LIKE Architects, will provide over 150 one and two bedroom apartments in the city centre set overlooking the river Lagan and the Titanic Quarter.

Gavin McEvoy from the joint venture behind the scheme believes the proposal offers potential residents a unique living experience in the city.

“Build to rent is an exciting opportunity to introduce premium services and a customer focus to apartment living which is not typically found in build for sale apartments in the Belfast market. The Residence at Quay Gate will include a dedicated relaxation area, a state of the art gymnasium, work spaces and meeting rooms and will include an integrated IT system,” he said.

“Having assessed the model in other major cities in the UK with our high class design and delivery team, we believe there is an exciting opportunity to use our knowledge of the local property market to apply the model in a Belfast context. Build to Rent is an exciting progression from the major investment that has been made in Belfast in the student accommodation sector that fills a growing need for city centre living in Belfast. Our plans will deliver a cleverly-designed, premium scheme which will deliver well managed homes and create new, sustainable communities in an area of the city centre close to the river with easy access to transport links.”

The developers will undertake a 12 week pre-application community consultation before submitting their plans to Belfast City Council. A public exhibition will be held on February 7 at the Odyssey Pavillion.

Earlier this month Lacuna/Watkin Jones, the joint venture behind multiple student accommodation schemes in the city centre, submitted a planning application for 105 one and two bed apartments on Academy Street in the Cathedral Quarter. The build to rent development includes an active ground floor with communal space for tenants, management facilities and proposed space for a café or retail use.

Source: Irish News

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Developers believe 19 parking spaces will be enough for 71 new flats in Tonbridge town centre

Plans to build 71 new flats with just 19 parking spaces in the centre of Tonbridge have been unveiled.

F Estates, which specialises in affordable rented property development, wants to extend the existing block at The Bank House on Medway Wharf Road.

But some residents have come out against the plans saying the “overcrowding” would “ruin” the riverside area with bedsits.

The five-storey building would incorporate 71 rented studio flats which, when added to the existing 64, would mean a total of 135 on site. The parking provision would increase from 52 to 71 spaces.

A similar scheme for 72 flats on the plot was thrown out by Tonbridge and Malling Borough Council in September on the grounds of overdevelopment.

But in a statement to the council, planning consultants Barton Willmore claimed previous concerns had been addressed.

It said: “The proposed development seeks to provide a high-quality living environment, extending the successful conversion of the existing Bank House building undertaken by the applicant.

“The proposals would provide much needed new homes – of a particular type and nature identified as being locally deficient – assisting with the council’s undersupply of five-year housing land supply.”

An artist’s impression of the rear of the site

The statement adds 40 per cent of the flats would be affordable homes let out at 80 per cent of market rate.

Objections

Despite the assurances, the plans are courting controversy locally with residents citing over-development, a lack of parking spaces and fears the building would block out neighbouring properties’ sunlight.

One objector, whose name has been redacted from planning documents but lives in nearby Cannons Wharf Road, said: “I am shocked and disappointed that the same company that wishes to build a 14-storey building down our road now wishes to double the size of an existing building and again not provide adequate parking. The additional traffic will burden a local infrastructure already under strain.

“It is unrealistic to assume that in this age of mass car ownership that the people who move into the proposed extension will either want or be able to rely on local bus services, so the question remain, where will these people park?”

Another, a serving police officer, feared the development could “ruin” life for existing residents, adding: “I object to this quite simply due to overcrowding. I work as a police officer in the Met and often see how disruptive a block of flats of this scale in an already busy area can be, often ruining many residents’ lives to the point they will move.”

Source: Kent Live

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Housebuilder plans to build 2,800 homes across Yorkshire during 2018

A housebuilder has announced plans to open 19 new sites across the Yorkshire region in 2018, creating 2,800 new homes and over 1,000 associated jobs.

Barratt Developments Yorkshire West, which includes the David Wilson Homes brand, said sites will be in Leeds, Barnsley and Huddersfield. New employment will be in construction trades such as bricklayers, electricians and landscapers, through to head office support roles.

In the 2016/17 financial year Barratt Developments supported 610 sub-contractor companies and 370 supplier companies. The company intends to continue to support the local environments in which it builds. During 2017, more than 3,110 trees or shrubs were planted or retained on developments and 19.2ha of green space was created through public open spaces or private gardens, equivalent to 759 tennis courts.

The housebuilder recycled 95 per cent of its construction waste. Ian Ruthven, managing director at Barratt Developments Yorkshire West, said: “We’re delighted to continue contributing to the regional economy through local jobs for local people across our 19 new sites.

“We’re committed to investing in and supporting tradesmen across the region and look forward to working with them over the next year to build even more quality homes.

“As well as creating more jobs, the communities in which we build we be supported through our S106 contributions. In the 2017 financial year we provided over £13 million in local contributions to the areas surrounding our developments, which goes towards facilities such as public open spaces, school and educational facilities, public transport measures, and recreational facilities, as well as many other projects.

We look forward to continue helping create thriving communities over the next 12 months.”

Source: Wakefield Express

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UK housebuilders to prefabricate hundreds of homes in factories

One of Britain’s major housebuilders is to prefabricate up to a quarter of its homes in a factory, in the latest attempt by the construction industry to tackle the housing shortage.

Berkeley Homes, which builds 4,000 homes a year, is planning to create a facility in Kent next year where builders will work to produce up to 1,000 houses and apartments annually which will then be craned on to sites.

Another company, nHouse, is setting up a factory in Peterborough with the capacity to build 400 homes a year, complete with light fittings, bathrooms, bookshelves and kitchens. Production is expected to start in January.

It claims it can build a house in 20 days in the factory which can then be erected on site in half a day. Several other developers, including Legal and General and Urban Splash, have also launched prefab home divisions.

Fears of a shortage of skilled construction workers caused by an ageing workforce and an exodus due to Brexit are part of the reason for the revival of prefabrication, which last provided a significant number of homes after the second world war.

The government has set a target of building 300,000 homes a year by the middle of the next decade. Despite recent increases in activity, the last annual figure was 190,000.

A Berkeley spokesman said: “We have acquired a 10-acre brownfield site from the Homes and Communities Agency to build a factory for modular homes in Ebbsfleet, Kent. This will have the potential to deliver up to 1,000 homes a year.

“Construction of the factory could begin next year. While the speed of production and the impact on skills and labour are important factors, our real driver is the quality we can achieve with modular housing.”

The nHouse has been designed by the architect Richard Hywel Evans and is made in four modules from engineered pine panels which are transported on the backs of lorries and are then clipped together on site and connected to pre-existing services. Its built-in features include solar panels, a robot vacuum cleaner and even a drone landing pad – looking forward to a time of aerial deliveries.

A three-bed house is on sale to developers or individual householders from £170,000 to £185,000, which is about the same price as a standard house built using wet trades.

Nick Fulford, the director of nHouse, argues that with 100 workers operating on an indoor production line rather than on muddy building sites in the elements, the homes will suffer from fewer snagging problems.

Source: The Guardian