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New Eastern Villages the Future for Swindon

24/01/2020

The New Eastern Villages is one of the largest developments in the UK currently. It will see the delivery of around 8,000 needed new homes in the area and nationally. The NEV will also be providing new schools for that area and the wider Swindon population, areas of employment, numerous sports facilities and other community facilities.

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England’s Housing Supply

10/12/2018

The annual dwellings statistics for housing supply in England was published by the Government recently and shows 222,190 net additional dwellings from April 2017 to March 2018. These figures show a 2.2% increase from 2016/17 where 217,345 net additional dwellings were recorded.
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Final Letwin Report

20/11/2018

Sir Oliver Letwin’s final report on Build Out Rates was published at the end of last month. The report was commissioned by the Chancellor of the Exchequer at the time of the Autumn Budget 2017. The purpose of the report was to be an independent review of Build Out Rates within the UK. The Draft Analysis was published in June this year and you can find out more on this in our article written at the time of release titled ‘Letwin Report’.

The main conclusion by Letwin and his team in the Draft Analysis was that the homogeneity of the types and tenures of the homes being built out on large sites limits the rate at which the market will absorb such products leading to the fundamental reason of slow build out rates. The final report presents recommendations about ways the Government could overcome this.

In the final report one of the main recommendations is for the Government to adopt a new set of planning rules specifically for large sites (initially over 1500 units). One of the new rules would be to diversify the offerings of housing tenure on sites to address various categories of demand within the local housing market. This seems fairly obvious and shouldn’t need enforcing as any developer would be properly planning out their site to maximise value with the market dictating what housing tenure is required. It is recommended that these new rules begin to take effect within the planning system before they are given full statutory backing. It is also recommend the Government establish a ‘National Expert Committee’ to advise local authorities on these large sites and act as intermediary where there may be any disagreement between local authorities and the developers.

The draft and final Letwin report focuses on the reason for slow build out rates after the planning stage. As the report makes recommendations to impose more early planning rules it is not fully understood why more research hasn’t been done into the planning system and it feels slight disjointed as adding supplementary layers of planning restrictions and giving struggling local authorities more power will only slow the whole process down further.

To read the full report click here.

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Highways Infrastructure

05/11/2018

Building and upgrading highways infrastructure alone won’t solve the UK’s congestion problems. It needs to be a more robust strategy with smarter solutions on how to tackle the problems. You only need to drive on a short stretch of motorway or dual carriageway to see that the road networks in place aren’t being utilised by drivers in the most efficient manner. Further education for drivers on how to use the road networks is key and needs a nationwide program rolled out. Until human error can be removed from the equation and we see the full implementation of driverless cars with AI it is looking likely we will all have to tolerate some form of traffic for the time being.

World renowned physicist Michio Kaku has said the following on driverless cars: “As transportation is digitized in the next decade, driverless cars, guided by GPS and radar, will share our highways. ‘Traffic accidents’ and ‘traffic jams’ will become archaic terms. https://futurism.com/michio-kaku-prominent-futurist-predictions/

The cost of the infrastructure maintenance and upgrades is no small amount with the Chancellor earmarking £28.8 billion in the Autumn Budget 2018 for a ‘National Roads Fund’ to help fund new roads and maintain the existing network. The Infrastructure Cost Review was a 2010 report commissioned by the UK government and written by Infrastructure UK to find efficiency savings in the delivery of infrastructure projects. The bulk of costs saving came at the procurement and planning stage.

With the cost associated to traffic infrastructure upgrades to cope with ever increasing demands it is imperative we learn how to use the networks in the most efficient manner as the smallest user errors can have widespread knock on effects.

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UK Minerals Strategy

11/10/2018

The UK mineral strategy was launched earlier this year in July and highlights the UK demand for minerals and mineral production over the next 25 years. The material flow currently in the economy in a typical day is 1 million tonnes, which is the equivalent of roughly 166,666 African bush elephants. The strategy aims to assist national and local Government and key stakeholders understand not just the scale and importance of the industry, but how best to ensure that future demand is met. It highlights this demand will be at least 5 billion tonnes, with most of it needing to be sourced from within the UK.

Read the full report herehttps://mineralproducts.org/documents/UK_Minerals_Strategy.pdf

Photo: Mariusz Prusaczyk

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Sustainable Quarrying

31/08/2018

Quarrying has a lot of perceived negative impacts to the environment but these are all short term and can be minimised; the long term after use of quarries can be extremely beneficial and a positive change to the initial land use before quarrying began.

 

Some of the negative environmental impacts quarries are linked with is the visual pollution, loss of wildlife habitats and pollution from noise and dust. These can be reduced during the process of quarrying and completely irradiated after. Reducing the visual pollution during the process is as simple as landscaping and planting trees in a design led process, once the quarry is exhausted, and during the quarrying in some areas, this planting will certainly become natural habitats for wildlife. The impact of the noise and dust pollution will also be minimised by the landscaping and planting.

 

The Cotswold Water Park is a great case study for how the after use of these quarries has been beneficial to the community and long term sustainability of the environment in that area. Gravel was extracted from the quarries and once exhausted turned into large lakes where fishing, sailing and other water activates can take place. The gravel is still being extracted in certain areas whilst depleted quarries are being turned into habitats for wildlife and new communities for people. Desirable housing around the new formed lakes are also created.

 

The symbiotic process of quarrying and after use of the quarry benefits the environment in a positive manner as long as the process is managed correctly and thoughtfully.

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Letwin Report

20/08/2018

The Draft Analysis Independent Review of Build Out Rates by Sir Oliver Letwin was released at the end of June 2018 after the Prime Minister asked for an explanation to the significant gap between housing completions and land allocated or permissioned on large sites in areas of high housing demand. This draft analysis identifies what Sir Oliver Letwin et al. believe to be the causes.

The Analysis focuses on build out rates from the point of planning permission being granted and the housebuilder has an implementable consent allowing them to start construction on site; it does not take into account the stage before of achieving planning for sites. It is not fully understood why this is not being looked into as there are major areas of land within the UK which could have vast amounts of homes built out on them today if the planning system was not holding them up for various reasons. This is one fundamental area not being addressed by the Analysis and a key part of the answer to the question. Another report perhaps separate to this analysis is needed as to not detract from the findings but supplement them in order to answer this area.

Notwithstanding the planning stage the analysis does collate key findings and data into the question based on sites with implementable planning permission. The main conclusion of the report is that absorption rates can be improved by increasing the housing tenures on sites and having more choice. From the evidence gathered they have reinforced their beliefs that the homogeneity of house types on offer limits the rate at which the market will absorb the new houses and there needs to be more variety in the aesthetic characteristics of the sites.. The report also concludes that it would not be sensible to attempt to solve the problem of market absorption rates by forcing the major house builders to reduce the prices and this could be detrimental. The second half of the report touches more broadly on other key reasons for the slow delivery of housing.

Sir Oliver Letwin and his panel will submit final recommendations on improving build out rates in the autumn.

The report can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/independent-review-of-build-out-draft-analysis

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Capital Land Property Group

Cooler Buildings

27/07/2018

With the current heatwave the UK has been experiencing this Summer and record high temperatures being recorded are our buildings designed in the best way for the potential heat for years to come with the projected/unknown climate change affects ahead?

NewScientist don’t seem to think so with their release of an article this week titled ‘Our buildings make this heatwave worse’. They go on to comment on current trends of light-weight glass buildings not being the best design solution for hot climates and inefficient standards for insulation.

The problem we have in the UK is designing houses which maximise solar gain in the winter to heat our houses in the cold weather yet minimising this effect in the summer months. It is not only the solar gain but generally how to keep the homes warm. The UK has leaned towards a colder climate and the design problem has generally been towards keeping warm rather than keeping cool. With the uncertainty and fear of the unknown with regards to our future climate driven at this current time by the recent heatwave people are focusing on staying cool; this will be the opposite story in the winter months should the same winter arrive from earlier this year.

There are clever design solutions for this and it is nothing new but future house designs need to focus on elements of subtle design more closely as out climate conditions continue to wildly fluctuate during the different seasons of the year. People tend to want natural light flowing through their homes as it makes for a much more pleasant space to experience and living in dark caves is not the solution. There is also the commercial element to this problem and designing houses that are still cost effective for consumers to purchase.

The reality of the situation is that subtle design changes need to be implemented to create more efficient and truly modern houses. It is an ever evolving process as new technology pushes the boundaries of what is affordable and achievable.

Capital Land Research & Development in conjunction with Capital & Country Homes are working on solving and identified design challenges such as these.

Photo: Simon Zachrisson

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Changing Climate for UK Retail

24/07/2018

The retail sales data released by the Office for National Statistics earlier this year showed a further decline and continuing slowdown for the high street. This is likely because of a fundamental shift in the way we live and this is in large due to the internet. This presents a huge opportunity for how future retail parks are designed and creating regional destination centres with a new model.

 

Since the easy access of everything through the internet and mobile devices, people are able to obtain anything they need through a few clicks of a mouse or taps of a screen. It is not only about the ease of being able to obtain almost anything we need online but also in how we are beginning to understand and spend our time. Consumers now no longer need to spend hours of their time travelling and wading through the congestion of others to pick up items when they can simply have them delivered to their door within 24 hours and even hours in certain parts of the UK. Consumers also know that they are more likely to get a better deal online so there is very little, if any, benefit in them using up their finite resource of time and the extra costs associated with buying in store. People are more likely to travel to these retail destinations if it is deemed to be worth the time. Today it is all about the experience.

 

With online sales at 17.4% of the total retail market and continuing to rise it is only a matter of time before the old traditional model of the high street disappears completely. The high street and retailers need to reinvent their stores to create more of an experience for the buyer, you only need to look to John Lewis and Debenhams who now hold more in-store events with the intention of luring shoppers in.

 

Retail Parks being built today have a huge opportunity to adapt to this transitional market creating a more fluid experience for the customer and creating destination places where people want to spend their time. It is not that people do not want to visit places and spend their time out of the home it is that traditional retail parks do not provide the experience the consumer is looking for.

Photo: Lily Banse

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NHS70

06/07/2018

This week on the 5 July 2018 the National Health Service celebrated its 70th year. The founding principles of the NHS were that health services would be ample, national and available to all residents of the UK. The NHS is linked with having some of its founding roots in Swindon.

Isambard Kingdom Brunel’s Swindon Works that built and maintained the innovative locomotives of the Great Western Railway (GWR) set up the GWR Medical Fund Clinic. The healthcare fund made it possible for members or their family’s to access to Doctors, treatments and medicines when needed. The cradle-to-grave extent of this service was later said to be used as a blueprint for the NHS.

Image: GWR Hospital / Switch on to Swindon

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New Homes Registration Second Highest

09/05/2018

The latest figures released by the National House Building Council, NHBC, shows that 154,698 new homes were registered to be built across the UK in the 2017/18 financial year. This is the second highest number of registrations in a decade. The numbers are slightly short on the record high of 157,805 registrations in the 2016/17 financial year, a 2% decrease. If the UK is to reach it’s housing targets we will need to see more new home registrations.

Read the full article and results from the NHBC here: http://www.nhbc.co.uk/media-centre/articles/statistics/Q1-Stats-2018/

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