Loans to help make warmer homes

£1.9bn net benefit to improve energy efficiencyNew £10 million pilot scheme has been announced which will increase energy efficiency and help repair homes across Scotland.

More people will be able to make their homes warm and water-tight through a new £10 million fund that will also boost the building trades.

The pilot scheme in Glasgow, Argyll and Bute and Perthshire will provide equity loans of up to £40,000 to home owners on low incomes to help them make essential repairs to leaking roofs and building structures.

The funding can be used either as a single equity loan or with other existing Scottish Government grants to fund more expensive measures like solid wall insulation or a package of energy efficiency works.

Housing Minister Kevin Stewart announced the pilot ahead of his attendance at the launch of Under One Roof. The new website will provide free and impartial advice to private flat owners and help them understand their obligations when it comes to property and shared spaces.

He said: “Making sure everyone has access to a warm and affordable home is a priority for this Government which is why we have committed half a billion pounds over the next four years, meaning over £1 billion by 2021, to tackling fuel poverty and improving energy efficiency.

We know leaking roofs and poor building structures can drive up energy bills and make them more difficult to heat, but for low income households they can often be too costly to repair.

This £10 million scheme will provide households with loans to carry out essential repair work and install energy efficiency improvements.

This will help us make homes warmer and easier to heat, with our record investment already resulting in two fifths of Scottish homes now being in the top three energy efficiency ratings – an increase of 71% since 2010.”

Mary Taylor, Chief Executive of SFHA, said: “We welcome the announcement of the equity loan scheme. It is extremely important that we invest in the energy efficiency of existing homes to provide affordable warmth and reduce carbon emissions. It is also important that we invest in existing buildings and keep them in a good state of repair.”

Housing decisions in Scotland faster than previous year

Housing decisions in Scotland faster than previous yearLatest quarterly statistics show faster average decision times for major and local housing developments compared to the equivalent quarter last year.

Local developments include applications for household extensions and loft conversions etc, smaller housing and retail developments, as well as various other types of local developments.

Major developments include applications for developments of 50 or more homes, as well as certain waste, water, transport and energy-related developments, larger retail developments, and other types of major developments.

The overall rate of approvals for all types of application was 94.0% in the period October to December 2015, the same as the previous quarter (94.0%) but an increase compared to the equivalent quarter three in 2014/15 (93.1%).

For the 1,432 decisions made on local housing developments the average decision time of 13.6 weeks was almost 4 days slower than the previous quarter (13.1 weeks) but 2 days quicker than the equivalent quarter in 2014/15 (13.9 weeks).

There were a further nine major housing applications concluded that were subject to separate processing agreements, of which eight (89%) met the agreed timescale that had been set between the developer and the local authority.

There were also a further 39 local housing applications concluded that were subject to separate processing agreements, of which 23 (59%) met the agreed timescale.

The figures released were produced by independent statistical staff free from any political interference, in accordance with professional standards set out in the Code of Practice for Official Statistics.

Go-ahead for London’s Lambeth council homes

Go-ahead for London’s Lambeth council homesLambeth Council’s Cabinet has given the go-ahead to redevelop the Cressingham Gardens estate under plans to build new homes.

The decision allows Lambeth to replace all the 306 homes, many of which are in a poor state of repair, and provide extra properties for council rent on the estate.

The redevelopment will provide a minimum of 464 new homes – a net gain of 158 extra homes.

Cllr Matthew Bennett, Cabinet Member for Housing, said: “Rebuilding Cressingham Gardens will mean all homes on the estate will be rebuilt, with no loss of social housing.

The proposal would provide a new home for each tenant, at council rent levels, with a lifetime tenancy and enough rooms to meet their needs.”

It will also mean at least 158 extra homes, 47% of which will be affordable homes. It will mean at least 75 extra homes for rent for families on Lambeth’s waiting list of over 21,000 people, and it would mean at least 27 extra family-sized homes for council.”

Cressingham Gardens is one of six estates on the Council’s estate regeneration programme, which has been set up to find ways to improve the quality and size of homes on Lambeth’s housing estates.

The programme also aims to invest in the wider neighbourhood and increase the number of homes on those estates. The programme will contribute towards the Council’s commitment to provide 1,000 extra homes for council rent for local families.

Balfour Beatty appointed to TfL’s Framework

Balfour Beatty secures landmark care scheme in IrelandBalfour Beatty has been selected by Transport for London (TfL) to be a member of its Property Partnership Framework which will carry major building works across the Capital.

Balfour Beatty has been selected alongside other property development companies and consortiums to the development framework which will help the delivery of thousands of homes, offices and retail spaces across 300 acres of TfL land.

The company’s Its current Eastwick and Sweetwater housing development project for the London Legacy Development Corporation, also part of the GLA family, will deliver 1500 homes and supporting infrastructure including a new nursery, library and health centre and a range of shops, restaurants, offices, workshops and new public open spaces.

Laura Porter, Investment Director, Balfour Beatty Investments, said: “Following an extremely competitive procurement process, our appointment as a key partner to TfL demonstrates our credentials as a leading London developer.

We look forward to working with TfL to bring forward the thousands of homes needed for London’s growing population and to supporting the Capital’s continued growth with the commercial space and jobs the developments will create.

The London developer market remains strong and provides attractive opportunities for investment. The TfL property framework provides a fantastic opportunity to invest in the development of London in partnership with the public sector.”

Britain building again as new homes rise by a quarter

Britain building again as new homes rise by a quarterThe number of new homes in England has risen by 25% over the past year – the highest annual percentage increase in 28 years, new figures released this week show.

Communities Secretary Greg Clark said it was further proof of the government’s commitment to get more homes built with 170,690 new homes last year and more than 700,000 additional homes delivered since 2010.

There has been a significant increase in the number of new homes delivered by converting buildings into residential properties.

More than 20,600 of these homes were built in 2014 to 2015 – a rise of 65% on the year before.

It comes just weeks after the government announced it would extend permitted development rights that enable offices to be converted into new homes without having to submit a planning application.

Communities Secretary Greg Clark said: “As a one nation government we’re determined to make sure everyone has the opportunity and security of owning a home of their own.

Today’s figures show a 25% increase in the number of new homes over the past year – showing our reforms are building new homes across Britain.

We are going further and will do everything we can to help families buy a place of their own. Government support like Help to Buy and our plans to build 200,000 new Starter Homes will help anyone who aspires to own their own home the chance of making their dream a reality.”

Housing Minister Brandon Lewis said: “We’ve brought the housebuilding industry back from the brink, giving them the tools they need to get on with the job and build the homes hard-working people need.

That includes making it easier for developers to turn underused buildings into new homes with today’s figures showing a 65% increase in these kinds of developments over the past year.”

British Land to build Canada Water scheme

British Land to build Canada Water schemeBritish Land has appointed Roger Madelin to lead the development of its 46 acre Canada Water site that will boost economic growth and create new construction jobs.

Canada Water has excellent existing infrastructure and will also benefit from the opening of Crossrail at Canary Wharf in 2018.

It is a major, long term project, which will be delivered in a number of phases and presents a unique opportunity to create an attractive, mixed use town centre which fully reflects the needs of local communities.

British Land is currently working with the London Borough of Southwark and local communities to deliver the Canada Water Masterplan and expects to submit a planning application by the end of next year.

Roger has been at Argent since 1987 and was Chief Executive/Joint Chief Executive from 1997 – 2012. He was directly responsible for leading a number of Argent’s developments and from 2000 led the Argent team bringing forward the 67 acre King’s Cross development.

The acquisition of Surrey Quays Leisure Park in March this year completed British Land’s assembly of the Canada Water site, which also includes Surrey Quays Shopping Centre and Harmsworth Quays, the former Daily Mail General Trust printing works.

The combined sites, which have potential for around 5.5 million sq ft (net internal area) of office, retail, residential, leisure, educational and community space, have been assembled over the last five years and create a significant mixed use development opportunity in the heart of one of London’s major regeneration zones.

Scottish firms to bid for £10bn HS2 contracts

Scottish firms to bid for £10bn HS2 contractsHS2 is the biggest infrastructure project to be built in Britain for decades and is a vital part of the UK government’s long term economic plan.

The scheme presents an excellent opportunity for Scottish businesses large and small to compete for over £10bn worth of contracts on offer.

Scotland’s engineering base is well placed to benefit from the construction phase of the project when it begins in 2017.

Over 160 firms working in a range of sectors from across the country have now signed up to find out more about getting HS2 ready, including companies from Glasgow, Edinburgh, Aberdeen, Dundee and Inverness.

HS2 Ltd Chief Executive, Simon Kirby, said:“Britain’s high speed rail network is a major, long-term project offering a huge opportunity for Scottish companies to develop the necessary staff and skills base that will position them to bid for the billions of pounds worth of contracts available throughout the supply chain during construction.”

UK Transport Minister for HS2 Robert Goodwill, said: “The UK government’s ground-breaking HS2 programme provides a fantastic opportunity for businesses across the UK, including those here in Scotland.

It will create some of the largest value contracts in UK construction history, creating job opportunities throughout the supply chain.”