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2006 News


Housing apprentices
28.12.06 Housing apprentices in Scotland A group of Glasgow housing organisations is giving 12 young people a bright start to 2007 as paid housing apprentices, with the support of Communities Scotland. Five organisations which form the East End housing association`s regeneration forum (EEHARF), along with seven other local housing organisations in the area, will each provide one young person with an 18-month paid modern apprenticeship in admi...
House price growth
28.12.06 House price growth back to double digits House prices have increased 1.2 per cent in December bringing the annual rate to 10.5 per cent, according to Nationwide. Fionnuala Earley, Nationwide?s group economist, said: ?The housing market clearly warmed up during the year. House prices increased three and a half times faster than last year and returned to double digits for the first time since February 2005. December?s increase of 1.2 p...
Wolverhampton stars
21.12.06 Wolverhampton not meeting needs of some vulnerable groups The delivery of the £8 million Supporting People programme provided by Wolverhampton city council is poor and its prospects for improvement are uncertain, according to a report released by the independent Audit Commission. On a scale from zero to three stars the inspection team awarded the programme, which deals with housing-related support services such as supported housing ...
Berwick stars
21.12.06 Berwick upon Tweed residents receive poor strategic housing services The strategic housing services provided by Berwick upon Tweed borough council are poor with poor prospects for improvement, according to an independent report released by the Audit Commission. On a scale from zero to three stars, the housing inspection team gave the council`s strategic housing services zero stars. Strategic housing services includes homelessness, lo...
Scottish energy efficiency
20.12.06 Scottish housing energy efficiency better Statistics on the energy efficiency of Scottish housing stock for 2003/04 just published show that the efficiency improved considerably from 2002, with 40 per cent of dwellings rated as good on the national home energy rating scale, up from 31 per cent. The main findings are: Energy efficiency: * The energy efficiency of the Scottish housing stock has improved considerably from 2002...
ARHAG report
20.12.06 ARHAG statutory enquiry report published The Housing Corporation has published a summary of the final report of the statutory enquiry into the affairs of ARHAG housing association, in accordance with paragraph 20 (7) of the Housing Act 1996. In August 2006 the corporation?s board decided that there had been misconduct in the affairs of the association and that the chief executive, finance manager, and two board members had been respo...
Safe rooms
19.12.06 Preventing homelessness through safe rooms A major new drive to help prevent victims of domestic violence from being forced out of their own homes with their families being uprooted and made homeless has been announced by Communities Secretary Ruth Kelly. She has announced that she wants every local authority in the country to offer ?sanctuary schemes? to their residents, as one of a range of options to support women`s choices. Kelly...
West Dunbartonshire
19.12.06 Statutory intervention in West Dunbartonshire housing Communities Minister, Malcolm Chisholm, will use his statutory intervention powers for the first time to ensure improvements are made to West Dunbartonshire council`s housing management and services to its tenants. The move follows unsatisfactory progress by the council against targets set in an improvement plan with Communities Scotland, the housing regulator, arising from its 20...
Locked up
19.12.06 Takeaway worker who stole locked up Rampal Sharma falsely claimed housing benefit totalling £21,391 between 2000 and 2003 to pay the mortgage on his home. A judge at Isleworth crown court said the crime was so serious that a custodial sentence was his only option. In addition, he told Sharma to pay back everything he stole. The court heard that Sharma - who works at a takeaway restaurant in Southall - involved his wife in the...
East of England
19.12.06 Proposed changes to East of England plan Ruth Kelly, the Secretary of State for Communities, has published for public consultation the proposed changes to the East of England plan, together with the sustainability appraisal and habitats directive assessment of the proposed changes. The changes follow from the draft East of England plan, which was prepared by the East of England regional assembly (EERA), and the recommendations of the...
Scottish tenants
18.12.06 Scottish tenants demand inquiry into GHA Following the resignation of Michael Lennon, chief executive of Glasgow housing association (GHA), the Scottish Tenants Organisation is seeking an independent inquiry into the setting up and management of GHA. John Carracher, convenor of the Scottish Tenants Organisation, said: ?From the very beginning, the transfer of Glasgow?s council housing stock and the subsequent re-structuring has been...
Landbanking
15.12.06 Landbankers selling rural England by the pound Small investors from across the globe are being sold plots of rural land on hundreds of sites across England in order to build homes on them and countryside campaigners CPRE have launched a campaign against  this practice. The investors? chances of success are very low and their investments are likely to fail because permission to develop cannot be obtained on the great majority of the l...
Resident involvement
15.12.06 Action against  housing associations who fail to take resident involvement seriously Housing associations managing more than 250 homes will in future be expected to have at least one resident on their boards and all associations will be expected to provide financial support to ensure residents have the capacity to engage in involvement activity. These are two of the key proposals being put forward by the Housing Corporation in its `D...
Pathfinders
14.12.06 Pathfinders must grasp complexities Pathfinders working within the government`s housing market renewal programme to tackle a declining demand for housing in the North and Midlands now have a clearer understanding of what drives the markets, according to an Audit Commission report. But the report, ?Housing Market Renewal Annual Review 2005/06?, says pathfinders still need to refine their thinking to understand the relationship between...
Water efficiency
13.12.06 New standards for water efficiency Proposals for minimum standards of water efficiency in new homes in England and Wales have been published for consultation. Angela Smith, Minister for sustainable buildings, said: ?This is an important step in transforming the way we use water in the home and the workplace. By installing products such as low flush toilets and water efficient taps in new homes we could reduce household consumption by...
Zero carbon homes
13.12.06 Towards zero carbon homes A package of measures for planners and house builders to reduce carbon emissions and bring innovation to the building industry has been published by Communities Secretary Ruth Kelly. The aim is to put tackling climate change at the heart of the planning system and the way new houses are built. The overall strategy, as set out in the consultation document ?Building a greener future: towards zero carbon develo...
Planning for Gypsies
13.12.06 New planning advice for Gypsy and traveller sites Greater certainty for applicants and local residents on the location of Gypsy and traveller sites is on offer in draft planning guidance issued by the Welsh Assembly government. The Assembly government`s draft circular is recommending that local planning authorities identify suitable specific locations for Gypsy and traveller caravan sites in their local development plans as quickly a...
Brownfield blight
13.12.06 The social cost of brownfield blight Derelict sites that blight entire communities and stifle economic investment could be turned around more effectively by local authorities and their developer partners if new approaches to the use of brownfield land are adopted, according to national regeneration agency, English Partnerships. New policy proposals combined with a practical toolkit tailored for use by local authorities could hold the...
Choice based lettings
12.12.06 Choice base lettings schemes strengthened Twelve consortia of local authorities and housing associations have been given  £1.3 million in second round funding to develop sub-regional choice based lettings (CBL) schemes to offer new and existing social housing tenants greater mobility, choice and flexibility over their housing. The funding will ensure a further 49 councils adopt a choice based lettings approach and bring the number of...
MMC guide
11.12.06 MMC guide launched NHBC`s independent research institution - the NHBC Foundation - has published the findings of its research on modern methods of construction (MMC). The foundation was launched in January in partnership with the BRE Trust and chaired by former housing minister Rt. Hon. Nick Raynsford MP. It has been involved in a programme of research and positive engagement with development agencies, other stakeholders and go...
Public unaware
11.12.06 Housebuying public unaware of basic facts Nearly one in five people think that estate agents carry out conveyancing and the majority of homeowners do not know what they are paying for in a local property search. The poll, commissioned by the Council for National Land Information Service (C-NLIS), the provider of land and property information, reveals that the British public are uninformed about many areas of the housing market ....
Buy a stake
11.12.06 Greater freedoms to buy a stake Local councils need greater freedoms to help council tenants own part of the homes they rent from their landlord, according to a report published by London Councils. The London School of Economics report, ?A Stake in the Future?, sets out several recommendations to enable council housing tenants buy a proportion of their home through equity stakes schemes. It also makes other recommendations to help c...
Equity share deal
11.12.06 New equity share deal in regeneration area A 54 year old man from East Manchester has swapped his terraced house for a brand new apartment in a new equity share deal with Northern Counties housing association (NCHA). Mike Granelli is one of the first people in the country to benefit from the deal which has enabled him to use the £45,000 proceeds from the sale of his former home in Stuart Street, Clayton to purchase a 25 per cent stak...
Index Oct
11.12.06 Average price down, inflation up The house price index for October 2006 released by the Department for Communities and Local Government shows that the average house price in the UK was £197,987 but the annual house price inflation was 8.6 per cent. The mix-adjusted average house price in the UK in October 2006 stood at £197,987, down from £198,552 in September 2006 (not seasonally adjusted). The fall in UK prices between September an...
Unclogging planning
11.12.06 Unclogging the planning system Almost 40 per cent of routine applications by people to extend or alter their homes can be taken out of the planning system in Scotland entirely, according to new research led by Heriot Watt university. At present, such requests account for half of the 52,000 planning applications received by local authorities every year in Scotland. The Executive-commissioned research also found: * Almost...
Homelessness statistics
11.12.06 Overall downward trend in homelessness The statistical release by the Department for Communities and Local Government on local authorities? activities under homelessness legislation for the third quarter in 2006 shows a drop in acceptances and fewer in temporary accommodation. Household acceptances There were 19,390 acceptances, during the July - September quarter, 22 per cent lower than in the same period in 2005...
Lacks ambition
06.12.06 Pre-budget report lacks ambition Gordon Brown?s pre-budget report lacks ambition, says David Stubbs, senior economist at the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS). Stubbs said: ?A time limited stamp duty exemption for new build zero rated homes is a limited ambition at best. New build accounts for 0.8 per cent of the housing stock, this is pittance compared to the existing stock of 25 million properties, which mostly remain...
PBR
06.12.06 Carbon emissions, shared equity and fuel poverty Zero carbon homes, keeping pensioners warm, more shared equity on brownfield sites, and planning reform were all items in the Chancellor?s pre-budget speech. On carbon emissions, Gordon Brown said: ?It is time to set a long term framework for curbing the carbon emissions from homes ? 30 per event of all emissions. Next week the Secretary for Communities and the Housing Minster will set...
Report reaction
05.12.06 Support, suggestions and concern voiced over planning report The Barker review on land use planning has been broadly welcomed with some suggestions but also concern over the apparent threat to local democracy and green belt land. Jon Ladd, BURA chief executive, said: ?The recommendations in Kate Barker?s review alongside PPS3 provide the opportunity for a significant streamlining of the regeneration process, allowing major schemes to...
Barker report
05.12.06 Proposals for planning system published Kate Barker has published her final report on the land use planning system in England. The report highlights the vital role planning needs to play to deliver sustainable economic development in the context of the pressures of a growing population, rising incomes, changing demographics, climate change and the competitive challenges of rapid changes in the global economy. The report recomm...
Buy-to-let
05.12.06 Buy-to-let returns highest for four months The total returns for buy-to-let exceed 13 per cent ? the highest for four months, according to the Paragon Mortgages November index. The highlights of the index show: · total returns across the UK have rose significantly in November, up 2.8 per cent from 10.5 per cent in September to 13.3 per cent · for the second consecutive month, the North heads the table in terms of overal...
HRA
04.12.06 New HRA subsidiary analysis launched The Chartered Institute of Finance and Accountancy (CIPFA) have conducted research to help housing authorities fully understand the 2007/08 housing subsidy determination. The determination is the grant received by local authorities for housing purposes. Julian Mund, associate director at CIPFA?S commercial services, said: ?Our analysis has highlighted some interesting results which are hidden in t...
Disability
04.12.06 Disability equality scheme The Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) has published its first disability equality scheme (DES) setting out how it will improve equality of opportunity for disabled people. The DES includes an action plan for the department for next three years to deliver improved outcomes for disabled people. The action plan is the key part of the DES and includes around 100 actions involving uni...
Brownfield proposals
30.11.06 New brownfield policy proposals England?s brownfield land is set to be used more effectively and efficiently to support communities, following new policy proposals published by the national regeneration agency, English Partnerships. The proposals acknowledge the importance of re-using brownfield land for a range of activities, including housing, employment, recreation and open space as well as increasing wild life habitats. Pr...
Grave concerns
30.11.06 Grave concerns over new affordable housing definition The British Property Federation (BPF) has expressed grave concerns over new government definitions of affordable housing that will damage and reduce the supply of affordable housing overall. It follows the planning policy statement 3 (PPS3) unveiled by housing minister Yvette Cooper. PPS3 provides the framework whereby needs and resources can be identified early to proactively pla...
PPS3
29.11.06 New planning policy statement released Housing Minister Yvette Cooper has set out reforms to the planning system in planning policy statement 3: housing (PPS3), aimed to help local authorities deliver more and better homes - including more affordable and family homes. The key policies outlined are: -       Local authorities will need to identify more appropriate sites for housing. Councils need to plan 15 years ahead in order to p...
Rollout
23.11.06 Rollout for 1APP announced The timetable for the rollout of a standard planning application form for use across all English planning authorities has been announced by the government. From October 2007, the national standard planning application form (1APP) will become the only official method of submitting a planning application for most types of consent (except for minerals consent and building control applications) for all local pl...
Dont say no
22.11.06 Don?t say ?no?, warns Cooper Parents could find themselves under increasing financial pressure to help their children onto the property ladder if opposition to new house building continues, Housing Minister Yvette Cooper has warned. Fourteen thousand people a year are releasing equity from their homes to help them buy another property, either for themselves or for family members, reveal new government figures taken from the Survey of...
Tenancy deposit protection
22.11.06 Administrators of tenancy deposit protection schemes announced The Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) has announced that the government has awarded contracts to three companies to run tenancy deposit protection schemes from 6 April 2007. Computershare Investor Services plc will run the single custodial deposit scheme, with the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators providing the alternative dispute resolution (ADR) s...
Proposed protection
20.11.06 Proposed protection largely in place Now that Trade and Industry Secretary Alistair Darling has fleshed out the bones of the government?s proposed legislation for estate agents, it has become clear that the planned measures mostly already exist, according to the Ombudsman for Estate Agents (OEA). Under the Consumers, Estate Agents and Redress Bill announced in the Queen?s Speech, estate agents will be required by law to join a redres...
Lawyers slammed
14.11.06 Lawyers slammed in home buyer survey Lawyers have been voted as the worst performers in the home buying/selling process for the third consecutive year, according the latest survey by propertyfinder.com. Comparing how lawyers, surveyors, estate agents, and mortgage lenders perform in the house buying process, home buyers and sellers voted lawyers as the least impressive. According to respondents, lawyers provided not only the...
Landlord guilty
14.11.06 Landlord guilty of providing poor living conditions Camden council has prosecuted a landlord for failing to improve sub-standard living conditions and fire safety measures in a premises rented to tenants. Mr Avigdor Brinner and his company Palmlane Estates Limited were convicted (pleaded guilty) under Section 376 of the Housing Act 1985. He was prosecuted by the council for not complying with statutory notices that required him to m...
Logic agreement
14.11.06 Logic Homes signs grant agreement Logic Homes, formerly Gentect Homes, has announced the signing of their grant agreement with the Housing Corporation. One of only seven private sector developers to receive funding in the Housing Corporation?s national affordable housing programme 2006/08, Logic Homes has been awarded £5.3 million to provide 211 new homes in London, the South East and East of England. Justin Marshall, operatio...
Land for homes
13.11.06 Unlocking more land for new homes Communities Minister Malcolm Chisholm has announced a package of measures to free up more land for housing in Scotland. Current planning policy (SPP 3) is to be reviewed to look at new mechanisms for increasing such provision in local development plans. In addition, £48 million is being allocated by Communities Scotland to speed up the delivery of local projects and to help housing association...
Depression
13.11.06 Depression causes homelessness London?s homeless charity St Mungo?s has released research that shows that 1 in 10 homeless people became homeless due to depression. St Mungo?s surveyed 1400 homeless people, including rough sleepers, people in hostels and temporary housing.  1 in 10 said that their homelessness was caused by suffering depression. Peter Cockersell, St Mungo?s director, said: ?Although counselling is recognised...
Welsh warning
10.11.06 Warning to Welsh home owners Shelter Cymru is advising home owners in Wales paying a high proportion of their income on mortgages to get help as soon as possible if they find the new level of interest rates are causing difficulties.  The housing charity is warning that mortgage repossessions could increase even further in Wales following the rise in interest rates to 5 percent. Mortgage repossession actions are already high.  In 200...
Subsidence risk
10.11.06 Hugh risk of subsidence Almost half of the homes in Great Britain lie within former and current coal mining areas where there is a potential risk of subsidence, according to the Council for National Land Information Service (C-NLIS), the provider of property and land information. The legacy of disused mining shafts and abandoned shallow underground workings can cause subsidence and fractures above and below the surface many years af...
Bitter pill
10.11.06 Nurse faces bitter pill for benefit fraud A Hounslow nurse was given a bitter pill to swallow when magistrates told her to pay back more than £10,000 in stolen benefits. Theresa Diskin claimed income support, council tax and housing benefit whilst working at West Middlesex Hospital. She was brought to justice following a joint investigation by Hounslow council and the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP). Cllr Gerald McGreg...
Housing charity
09.11.06 Foundations laid for new housing charity Dolphin Square charitable foundation, London?s newest and largest housing charity, with £100 million in assets, has come to life. Established following the sale of leasehold interests in Pimlico?s Dolphin Square, the foundation?s financial resources and unique charitable objectives of ?promoting and developing affordable and key worker housing in and around Westminster?, will make it a key pla...
South East Plan
09.11.06 Planners doubt South East Plan delivery Grave doubts have been expressed by practitioners within the development industry over the South East Plan.  Eighty-seven per cent of those surveyed at the recent planning and head projects annual conference organized by Lennon Planning have concerns over whether the South East Plan will deliver development and economic growth. In addition, 97 per cent of those surveyed believe that extensions...
Hertfordshire stars
09.11.06 No stars for supporting people in Hertfordshire The delivery of the £21.3 million Supporting People programme provided by Hertfordshire county council is poor, but has promising prospects for improvement, according to a report released by the independent Audit Commission. On a scale from zero to three stars the inspection team awarded the programme, which deals with housing-related support services such as supported housing for olde...
Base rate up
09.11.06 Base rate now 5 per cent Commenting on today?s interest rate rise, Milan Khatri, Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors? (RICS) chief economist, said: ?RICS welcomes the Bank of England?s decision to raise interest rates by ¼ per cent to 5.0 per cent today. "By acting in a timely manner, the modest rise in interest rates will help to cool the housing market but at the same time promote wider economic stability and prevent inflatio...
Efficiency gains
08.11.06 £318 million efficiency gains by housing associations Housing associations have exceeded government efficiency targets for the second year, it has been announced by the Housing Corporation. Figures from the annual efficiency statements for 2005/06 show that the sector performed well against government targets.  Housing associations delivered on all three categories identified for savings by the government?s 2004 spending review,  mea...
Home carbon savings
08.11.06 Billions from fuel bills could be saved Millions of tonnes of carbon and billions of pounds from fuel bills could be saved by simple measures like cavity wall insulation, new government analysis reveals. The initial report from the Review of the Sustainability of Existing Buildings shows that millions of homes across the country could benefit from cost effective improvements which cut both carbon emissions and fuel bills. Widespread ...
Supply and demand
08.11.06 Supply and demand is the main driver In response to the call by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors for a rise in interest rates to dampen the housing market, Stuart Law, managing director of property investment specialist Assetz said that supply and demand is the main driver of house price growth, not cheap borrowing. "The Bank of England must be careful not to mistake the cause of house prices rises over the next two years...
Advice unit
07.11.06 New national housing and planning advice unit set up A National Housing and Planning Advice Unit (NHPAU) has been established by the government to provide independent advice on improving housing market affordability. The unit will help strengthen the housing market evidence base and analysis currently available to the regional planning bodies. This will help to ensure that new homes identified in regional plans have a positive imp...
Sea defences
07.11.06 More money needed for sea defences Commenting on new government guidance on adapting flood defences to climate change and rising sea levels, Cllr Paul Bettison, chairman of the LGA environment board, said: "Tens of thousands of coastal homes could be at risk in the coming decades because funding to councils for the nation`s sea defences is inadequate. "Britain is battered by waves every day and these vital defences protect our coast...
RICS rates call
07.11.06 Call for higher interest rates The Bank of England must raise interest rates this week to dampen the housing market and prevent economic volatility, says the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS). RICS chief economist, Milan Khatri, said: ?The recovery of the economy this year has exceeded all expectations, the stockmarket is at it?s highest level for over five years and there has yet to be any noticeable negative impact fr...
Possession actions
03.11.06 Mortgage and landlord possession actions increasing Figures released by the Department for Constitutional Affairs for the third quarter 2006 show that mortgage possession actions and orders were both increasing. During the period, 34,626 mortgage possession actions were entered, and a total of 24,017 orders were made ? 11,603 of which were suspended orders. The number of actions entered was 15 per cent higher than in the same ...
Ladder rungs
07.11.06 The property ladder stretches as you climb Getting a foot on the property ladder is a difficult, but the climb to gets steeper and for each rung to be further away than the last. UK property portal propertyfinder.com analysed property for sale around the UK in October 2006 and uncovered some surprising results. Each successive rung on the ladder is a much greater step than the last, forcing homebuyers to stretch themselves further an...
Blaby poor
02.11.06 Poor repairs service for Blaby tenants The repairs and maintenance service provided by Blaby district council is poor but has promising prospects to improve, according to an independent report released by the Audit Commission. On a scale from zero to three stars the Audit Commission inspection team gave the service a ?poor? no star rating. This was principally because the provision of information for tenants is weak and the council d...
Orkney inspection
31.10.06 Mostly poor for Orkney services Orkney Islands council has been awarded a fair rating for its housing management, but poor for other services following an inspection by inspectors from Communities Scotland, the housing regulator. The council was awarded  a `C` or fair rating for its housing management, and `D` or poor ratings for its property maintenance and homelessness services following the inspection in June 2006. Orkney I...
Nationwide report
31.10.06 House price growth remains firm Nationwide reports that annual house price growth remains firm in October, rising 0.7 per cent in the month, making the annual change eight per cent. These figures indicate a slight slowdown from September, when the monthly change was 1.3 per cent, and the annual change 8.2 per cent. The typical house price is £12,500 higher than the same time last year and now stands at £169,623. Annual ...
No parking
31.10.06 Car-free housing development in London Car club scheme Streetcar and housing developer Servite Houses have created the first-of-its-kind car-free development. The developer has created a block of 22 flats on Carlton Drive in Putney and new residents have to sign away their rights to owning a car as a condition of purchase. The local council is also in on the scheme and doesn`t allow parking permits for residents at this property. St...
Land Registry report

31.10.06 First Land Registry house price index released The Land Registry has published its first house price index (HPI), based on activity during September. The seasonally adjusted HPI has a base period of April 2000 = 100, and average prices represent standardised seasonally adjusted prices. The report shows that house prices in England and Wales have risen strongly, with the average house price reaching £169,569. The growth rate has ac...


One million
30.10.06 One million homes transferred Over one million homes have now transferred to housing association management from local authority landlords. The first stock transfer took place from Chiltern district council to Chiltern Hundreds housing association in 1988. Stock transfer is the process through which a local authority transfers ownership of its housing stock to a not-for-profit housing association, which then undertakes major programm...
Property ladder
30.10.06 17.3 million can?t get on the property ladder According to new research from Abbey 17.3 million adults are not currently able to get on the property ladder with 7.4 million people citing house prices as one of the main reasons. More surprisingly, other barriers to buying a house included 6.9 million people saying they are unable to afford the deposit, 3.4 million who said they are waiting for house prices to fall and 2.1 million peo...
Green householders
27.10.06 More funding for householder microgeneration There will be £6.2 million more funding available under the Low Carbon Buildings Programme (LCBP) for people who want to install micro-wind turbines, solar panels and other microgeneration technologies on their homes, Energy Minister Malcolm Wicks has announced. There has been a significant response to the programme since its launch in April and to help meet the demand the DTI is transferr...
Energy savings
27.10.06 Energy savings? Consumers will fail to recoup the long-term financial benefits of energy savings unless the Government re-thinks its timid approach to the built environment and introduces tough, statutory measures to help reduce carbon emissions, says the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS). With buildings accounting for 27 percent of energy losses, the government is hoping to introduce compulsory energy performance certi...
HIPs indulgence
26.10.06 HIPs are a costly indulgence The director general of the Council of Mortgage Lenders (CML), Michael Coogan, has said that the home information pack (HIP) infrastructure now looks like ?a costly indulgence?, and urges the government to think again about whether it can still be justified. Speaking at the Property Forum?s annual dinner, he made it clear that the CML has never been anti-HIP. But, despite having dropped the requirement fo...
Bulgaria investment
26.10.06 Bulgaria investment warning Only committed holiday-home buyers and long-term investors would consider buying property in Bulgaria in the current climate, reports Assetz, while the rate of investment return on property in the UK is much higher and considerably lower risk. Bulgaria has suffered a dramatic change of fortunes in recent months, with the annual rate of capital growth plummeting from a remarkable 36 per cent in 2005 to 13.9...
Mates rates
26.10.06 Mates rates cost first-time buyers dear A generation of first-time buyers is in danger of risking quality and safety by cutting corners when it comes to home improvement, according to a report published by TrustMark, the government-backed scheme to help protect householders from cowboy builders and rogue traders. The research shows 218,000 (58 per cent) of new UK homeowners admit to calling in friends and family to do work such as el...
Information request
23.10.06 RICS submits a Freedom of Information request to the DCLG The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) has called on the government to work with industry to improve the home buying process for consumers.  It has submitted a Freedom of Information Act request to the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) to ensure that it is operating a level playing field in introducing Home Information Packs (HIPs). ?The gover...
Mendip fuel poverty
19.10.06 Mapping Mendip?s fuel poverty Residents living in parts of Glastonbury, Wells, Frome and Street struggle the most in Mendip when it comes to keeping themselves warm but Mendip district council is using the area?s fuel poverty statistics to encourage householders to be more energy efficient, to help save money on bills and play a part in reducing the effects of climate change. The figures show that a quarter of residents in the Glasto...
Lead developers
19.10.06 Lead developers chosen for North Staffordshire Four national developers have been chosen to lead the large scale regeneration of run-down neighbourhoods in North Staffordshire. The companies have been selected as preferred lead developer partners in four priority areas of Stoke-on-Trent and Newcastle-under-Lyme. The decision by housing market renewal pathfinder RENEW North Staffordshire will be ratified with formal contracts in the c...
Planning delivery grant
19.10.06 Call to change planning delivery grant allocations The government?s proposed method for assessing planning delivery grant (PDG) allocations is stacked in favour of wealthier local authorities and could widen the digital divide, according to Northgate Information Solutions. In a response to the Department for Communities and Local Government?s consultation ?Planning Delivery Grant: proposed allocations criteria 2007-8?, Northgate cal...
Landlords unprepared
18 October 2006 Landlords unprepared for imminent legislative changes In the run up to mandatory tenancy deposit protection, evidence is growing of a split between professionals in the lettings industry and most private landlords. This part of the Housing Act 2004 will now come into force next April. This delay in implementing mandatory deposit protection has been used to good effect by some landlords in the private rented sector. This is sho...
Stock transfers
17.10.06 More stock transfers on the books Thirty eight councils have been given the go-ahead for their plans to transfer more than 94,000 homes during the next two years, as part of the government?s social housing refurbishment drive. Twenty four councils have been granted immediate places on the 2006 housing transfer programme and further discussions with the remaining councils about their schemes are continuing. The programme involv...
Corruption
16.10.06 How corrupt is UK Construction? Fifty one per cent of UK construction professionals felt that corruption is commonplace within the UK construction industry, according to a survey by the Chartered Institute of Building (CIOB). The survey asked over 1400 construction professionals what type of corrupt practice was most commonly found, and examined attitudes of how corrupt they deemed a variety of practices to be.  The study also l...
K&C; stars
12.10.06 Residents in Kensington and Chelsea get excellent housing services The housing management services provided by the Kensington and Chelsea tenant management organisation are excellent with excellent prospects for improvement, according to an independent report released by the Audit Commission. On a scale from zero to three stars, the inspection team gave the arms length management organisation (ALMO) a top score. This is because serv...
Olympic wind
12.10.06 Wind turbine for Olympic park Plans to erect an Olympic wind turbine have been unveiled by the Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA).  The turbine ? to be located at Eton Manor in the North of the Olympic Park site in East London ? will play a key role in delivering renewable energy to the Olympic Park and be a visible symbol of London 2012?s commitment to deliver its goal of staging the most sustainable ever Olympic Games and Paral...
RICS survey
12.10.06 Economic strength swells house price ripple House prices rose for the 11th consecutive month at the fastest pace for four years, according to the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors? (RICS) latest housing market survey. More chartered surveyors (45.1 per cent, up from 34.9 per cent in August) reported a rise rather than a fall. RICS estate agents report that price rises are being driven by a combination of would-be buyers return...
Welfare rule
11.10.06 Call to scrap welfare rule causing hardship and homelessness A coalition of organisations is calling on ministers to scrap a welfare rule causing hardship and homelessness among young and vulnerable adults. Vulnerable young people are suffering because an obscure welfare rule caps the amount of help they can receive towards their rent. The single room rent restriction rule (SRR) limits housing benefit for under 25s to the average lo...
HMO landlords
11.10.06 HMO landlords retreating The number of landlords in the private rented sector who have invested in houses in multiple occupation (HMOs) has fallen sharply, according to the latest review by the Association of Residential Letting Agents (ARLA). The HMO share of the whole rental sector has dropped from nine per cent to six per cent over the last three months. This coincides with the requirement to register properties with local authori...
Lessons
10.10.06 Lessons to be learnt in housing and homelessness Welsh housing charity Shelter Cymru is joining forces with Rhondda Cynon Taff?s housing services department and community mediation services to deliver the homlessness prevention message to young people in the area. Year 10 pupils at Bryncelynnog School in Beddau, Rhondda Cynon Taff will take part in workshops as part of the school?s personal and social education curriculum.  The focu...
Aug prices
09.10.06 House price index for August shows rises The house price index for August released by the Department for Communities and Local Government show that the mix-adjusted average house price in the UK in August stood at £197,631, up from £194,454 in July (not seasonally adjusted). UK annual house price inflation was 7.7 per cent, up from 6.0 per cent in July. Annual house price inflation in London was 7.9 per cent in August, up from 7.1 pe...
Stamp duty
07.10.06 Stamp duty burden spreading New Halifax research shows that the average house price in 79 towns (16 per cent of 482 towns and London boroughs) surveyed in England is above the £250,000 threshold at which a three per cent rate of stamp duty is levied. The typical home buyer in these towns will be faced with a stamp duty bill of at least £7,500. It has been over nine years since the higher stamp duty thresholds - £250,000 and £...
Landlords buy more
07.10.06 Landlords celebrate by buying more Landlords plan to grow their property portfolios in the future on the back of growing or stable demand from tenants and rising rental yields, according to Paragon Mortgages` latest buy-to-let trends survey. Portfolios are expected to grow by 3.4 per cent over the next year, while yields are set to rise from 6.06 per cent to 6.13 per cent. Paragon Morgages` managing director, John Heron, said:...
Loans for empties
05.10.06 Interest free loan scheme for empty properties Kent county council has launched a £5 million capital fund to support an initiative to help bring properties back into use in east Kent. There are around 9,000 empty properties across the east of the county, potentially blighting neighbourhoods and attracting vandalism. Meanwhile, demand for affordable housing outstrips supply. ?No use empty: the east Kent empty property initiati...
Fixed rate loans
05.10.06 Borrowers take gamble on long term fixed rates Borrowers are increasingly fearful that low levels of interest rates will not hold over the next five years, according to Mortgages Direct`s monthly survey. Peter Galddy, director of Mortgages Direct, said: " Immediately after the interest rates increased in August we saw the proportion of two year fixed rate deals rise as borrowers became more concerned about further rate rises in the n...
Interest rate
05.10.06 No change in interest rate The Bank of England Monetary Policy Committee has decided to hold interest rates at 4.75 per cent. Barry Naisbitt, chief economist at Abbey, said: ?It is widely expected that rates are likely to rise next month when the next inflation report is due. The economic news over the past month has seen a mix of data. For example, inflation returning to 2.5 per cent and the level of claimant count unemployment fall...
Racial equality
02.10.06 Building racial equality in Britain?s housing market The Commission for Racial Equality (CRE) has launched its new statutory code of practice on racial equality in housing - a toolkit to eliminate racism from the housing market. The code, which came into force on October 1, offers best practice guidance to everybody operating in the housing sector: from housing associations and estate agents to mortgage lenders and building contracto...
Ash-Shahada
02.10.06 Statutory appointments to Ash-Shahada The Housing Corporation has announced that it has made three statutory appointments to the board of Ash-Shahada housing association, a registered social landlord which manages around 150 homes in south west London. The corporation has placed the association under supervision because of concerns about its governance. The appointees will provide the board with additional skills and expertise in add...
Black Roof
02.10.06 Black Roof required to transfer land The Housing Corporation has announced that it intends to direct Black Roof community housing association (BRCHA) to transfer its land to another registered social landlord in accordance with paragraph 27 of Schedule 1 to the Housing Act 1996. (The Act). The Corporation also intends to make an order removing three members of the board of BRCHA in accordance with the provisions of paragraph 24 (2) (...
Shared equity
02.10.06 New open market shared equity launched A new shared equity mortgage to help an extra 20,000 people buy their own home has been launched by Housing Minister Yvette Cooper. The government is working with four private sector lenders ? Nationwide, Yorkshire Building Society, a Morgan Stanley company Advantage, and Bank of Scotland ? to offer a mortgage that combines a traditional mortgage with equity loans. The new scheme, Open Ma...
N&V; Sept: Park homes
29.09.06 Improved rights for park home residents introduced Greater protection for at least 200,000 residents of park homes comes into force in England on Sunday 1 October, including a right for qualifying residents? associations to be consulted by the site owner about the operation and management of their park. The changes will automatically apply to all existing agreements and to new agreements. Other key measures include: * ...
N&V; Sept: Energy targets
28.09.06 Energy targets doubled Mayor of London Ken Livingstone has set out plans to double the carbon emissions reductions that developments must achieve, and reiterated that tackling climate change through the way new buildings are constructed in London remains a top priority. His new plans strengthen planning policies for suburban parts of London, emphasising the importance of outer London and the need to co-ordinate planning for new housi...
N&V; Sept: Estate agents code
27.09.06 New code for estate agents A new code of practice that strengthens the transparency of the estate agent?s role in the whole house buying process launches on October 1. The code is being introduced by the Ombudsman for Estate Agents (OEA) after a regular periodic review of the previous code. The new code has full approval from the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) and means the OFT logo can be displayed alongside the familiar OEA ...
N&V; Sept: Generation
13.09.06 Housing effect robbing a generation of children Children in overcrowded housing are ten times more likely to contract meningitis, according to findings from a new report by child poverty expert Lisa Harker for the charity Shelter, which is warning that government is failing a generation of children growing up in squalid conditions. The report, `Chance of a Lifetime`, uncovers evidence of the impact of bad housing on children`s life c...
N&V; Sept: Welsh gap
13.09.06 Welsh property gap worsens Housing market affordability in Wales continued to worsen in 2005 with mortgage costs to income ratios very close to the peak level seen in 1990, the last year of the previous housing market boom, according to a new briefing published by the Chartered Institute of Housing Cymru. The briefing shows that for younger working households throughout Wales the average house price (£123,362) to income ratio is now ...
N&V; Sept: Eco-standards
13.09.06 UK homes should beat Scandinavian eco-standards New UK homes should be built to Scandinavian standards and better them within ten years, Housing and Planning Minister Yvette Cooper has said after a visit to environmentally friendly and sustainably designed housing developments in the Netherlands and Scandinavia. Visiting with stakeholders from the house building, regeneration and environmental sectors, the minister said d...
N&V; Sept: Western Isles
13.09.06 Community ownership for Western Isles Tenants in the Western Isles will now have more investment and control over their homes with the transfer of Comhairle nan Eilean Siar housing stock to the Hebridean Housing Partnership (HHP). Following a successful community ownership ballot the official move to the new registered social landlord has now taken place. The transfer was approved by Communities Minister Malcolm Chisholm after...
N&V; Sept: Impact
12.09.06 MPs, housing and quality of life Better housing would have a bigger impact on constituents? quality of life than improvements to education or health services, according to a new independent survey of MPs. In the survey, carried out by CommunicateResearch on behalf of the National Housing Federation (NHF) which represents 1,400 housing associations, MPs were asked to select the top three areas that would have the greatest impact on th...
N&V; Sept: Cash boost
11.09.06 Cash boost helps first time buyers improve homes Tonbridge and Malling residents buying their first home and first time buyers who bought their homes within the last 12 months can now apply to the borough council for a grant of up to £10,000 to make major improvements to their properties. Tonbridge & Malling borough council has received a £262,000 grant from the government to improve homes in the borough and is using some of the fund...
N&V; Sept: Homelessness stats
11.09.06 New homelessness officially down Statutory homelessness figures for the second quarter of 2006 on local authorities? activities under homelessness legislation show a drop of 29 per cent on acceptances compared to the same period in 2005. Key information from data collected for April to June 2006 show that there were 19,430 acceptances, the first time acceptances have fallen below 20,000 since the early 1980s. On a seasonally a...
N&V; Sept: Respect workers
07.09.06 Respect our workers A Gateshead man has been taken to court after a series of abusive and potentially violent incidents towards housing workers. Robert Atkinson, 59, has been banned from causing nuisance and annoyance to any of the Gateshead Housing Company?s employees or contractors. The resident, who lives in one of the company?s leasehold properties, was told by the courts not to enter one of the company?s town centre multi...
N&V; Sept: Squatters
07.09.06 Landmark court case against squatters An order obtained by Southwark council?s housing department at Lambeth county court means that those squatting in specific council properties can be evicted in days rather than months. In some cases, it used to take years to clear squatters out of a block of flats, because each time the courts granted a possession order on a particular flat, the unwelcome visitors just moved next door. But...
N&V; Sept: Construction orders
07.09.06 New construction orders New construction orders in the 12 months to July 2006 rose by eight per cent compared with the previous 12 months, according to statistics released by the Department of Trade and Industry. Orders in the three months to July 2006 rose by six per cent compared to the same period a year earlier. Private housing orders in the 12 months to July 2006 fell by five per cent compared to those in the previous 12 ...
N&V; Sept: Buy to let
06.09.06 Growth of buy to let The buy to let mortgage scheme backed by the Association of Residential Lettings Agents (ARLA) and leading mortgage lenders has revolutionised the provision of mortgage finance to the private rented sector (PRS), according to a new study by the Council of Mortgage Lenders published in ?Housing Finance?. This year is the 10th anniversary of the scheme and there are now over 750,000 buy to let loans outstanding wit...
N&V; Sept: Lottery
06.09.06 Lottery grant to improve neighbourhoods The UK largest housing and regeneration group, Places for People, has secured a £600,000 grant from the Big Lottery Fund to help improve the quality of local neighbourhoods and environment. The grant has been awarded as part of the lottery?s ?changing spaces? programme which will make 234 million available to environmental initiatives over the next three years. A new partnership of Place...
N&V; Sept: Women drivers
05.09.06 Women still in the driving seat The steady growth of the private rented sector is reflected in the increase in lettings staff employed in the offices of member firms of the Association of Residential Letting Agents (ARLA). In just two years, total lettings staff has jumped by nearly a quarter, up from 7,884 to 9,593, according to the latest quarterly survey of ARLA members. However, men working in residential lettings and property ma...
N&V; Sept: A8 homeless
05.09.06 One in seven homeless are from Eastern Europe A small but significant number of Eastern Europeans (otherwise known as A8 nationals) are turning to London?s homelessness services for help, according to new research published by Homeless Link. Migration from the new EU countries contributed an estimated £240 million to the economy in the first eight months alone after monitoring began in May 2004. The vast majority of those who have co...
N&V; Sept: House prices
14.09.06 House prices still rising House prices rose for the fifth consecutive month in August, up at the fastest pace since May 2004, according to the latest UK housing market survey by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS). The survey shows that 35 per cent more chartered surveyors reported a rise than fall in August, up from 30 per cent in July. RICS estate agents reported that price rises are being driven by a combination of...
N&V; Sept: Small developers
19.09.06 No room for small developers The government will risk driving small developers out of the market and fail to reach its yearly target of 200,000 new homes if it goes ahead with the proposed Planning-gain Supplement (PGS), according to new research commissioned by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS). The proposed land tax will leave small developers with little operating profit margin, resulting in them having no option...
N&V; Sept: Mortgages
20.09.06 Mortgage lending hits new heights Gross mortgage lending hit a new record in August, reaching £32.7 billion, according to the latest data from the Council of Mortgage Lenders (CML). This is 7.2 per cent higher than the £30 billion of lending in July, and 21 per cent higher than the £26.9 billion lent in the same month last year. It also beats the previous record set in June of £32.4 billion. CML director general, Michael Coog...
N&V; Sept: Wansbeck poor
21.09.06 Wansbeck tenants receiving a poor repairs service The repairs and maintenance service provided by Wansbeck district council is poor but has promising prospects to improve, according to an independent report released by the Audit Commission. On a scale from zero to three stars, the inspection team gave the service a poor no star rating for the second time in 18 months. This was because the offices are not customer focussed, informatio...
N&V; Sept: Olympic bidders
21.09.06 Olympic bidder shortlist down to two London & Continental Railways (LCR) and the Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA) have announced that the shortlist of bidders to become a development partner for the £4 billion Stratford City has been reduced from three to two. The two remaining consortia are: · Bouygues, in a consortium with Barratt; · a Lend Lease-led team including East Thames Group and First Base. The ...
N&V; Sept: North Warwickshire poor
21.09.06 Council tenants in North Warwickshire get a poor service The housing service provided by North Warwickshire borough council is poor and has uncertain prospects for improvement, according to a report released by the independent Audit Commission. On a scale from zero to three stars the Audit Commission inspection team gave the service a poor zero star rating.  There are serious weaknesses around repairs and maintenance, and the counci...
N&V; Sept: Alarming trends
21.09.06 Alarming trends in housing supply, availability and affordability The state of the nation`s housing and neighbourhoods shows some problematic trends, in a new report from the New Policy Institute for the Joseph Rowntree Foundation. The good news is that the quality of housing has been steadily and substantially improving. However, the report details adverse shifts in housing supply, affordability and security of tenure, with high lev...
N&V; Sept: Prediction
22.09.06 Rate rise prediction The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) has predicted that the solid economy will lead to another rate rise in November, in the September edition of its UK Economic Brief. The latest residential property figures from RICS showed that house price growth accelerated for the fifth consecutive month in August, hitting the fastest pace since May 2004. This fits in with the Bank of England data on mortgage ...
N&V; Sept: What tenants want
22.09.06 Tenants want better services and more accountability Housing associations could do better in terms of getting the basics right and opening choices, according to a new study of housing association tenants` views. `What Tenants Want`, a report launched by the Tenant Involvement Commission - an independent commission chaired by Ed Mayo, chief executive of the National Consumer Council - calls for housing associations to renew the relati...
N&V; Sept: Inheritance tax
23.09.06 Above the inheritance tax threshold New Halifax research shows that the average house price is above the inheritance tax threshold (IHT) of £285,000 in 10 per cent (48) of the 482 English towns surveyed. This is two and a half times the number five years ago when only four per cent (19) of towns had an average house price above the then threshold of £242,000. The overwhelming majority ? 46 out of 48 - of these towns are in the South ...
N&V; Sept: Zero carbon challenge
26.09.06 Shortlist for zero carbon challenge Mayor of London, Ken Livingstone?s commitment to tackle climate change has announced that 17 UK and overseas developers had expressed an interest in constructing a zero carbon development at Gallions Park in London?s Docklands. Six potential development partners have now been shortlisted and invited to submit detailed proposals and tenders to work with the Mayor and the London Development Agency as...
N&V; Sept: CityWest Homes
28.09.06 CityWest Homes continue to be excellent The housing management services provided by CityWest Homes (CWH) in London are excellent with excellent prospects for improvement, according to an independent report released by the Audit Commission. On a scale from zero to three stars, the Audit Commission inspection team gave the service a top score. This is because services have continued to improve since it was last inspected in October 200...
N&V; Sept: ALG name
27.09.06 Name change for ALG The organisation which represents the London boroughs is to change its name to London Councils. The name Association of London Government was first used in 1995 when the London Boroughs Association and the Association of London Authorities merged to form a single lobbying organisation to represent the 32 boroughs and the City of London. The change of name from Association of London Government (ALG) to Londo...
N&V; Aug: Asylum seekers
31.08.06 Call to end policies that can make asylum seekers destitute In a submission to the Joint Committee on Human Rights into the treatment of asylum seekers, the Chartered Institute of Housing (CIH) has highlighted the need to end policies that lead to withdrawal of accommodation and financial support for asylum seekers and ultimately to destitution. The CIH has expressed concern that a growing number of asylum seekers are forced to leave...
N&V; Aug: Rent rises

31.08.06 Rent rises hit record Tenant demand and rental levels accelerated in the quarter to July, driven by a strong economy, declining accessibility and immigration from EU accession countries, according to the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors? latest lettings survey. Thirty per cent more chartered surveyors reported a rise in rental levels, as demand growth exceeded supply growth, up from 20 per cent in the last quarter. The ri...


N&V; Aug: Stockport stars
31.08.06 Excellent rating gives multi-million pound boost The housing services provided by Stockport Homes Ltd (SHL) are excellent and have excellent prospects to improve, according to an independent report released by the Audit Commission. This new rating opens up extra funding for Stockport of some £40 million between 2006 and 2008, rising to a potential total of 3104 million if progress is maintained. Stockport council established S...
N&V; Aug: Brownfield land

29.08.06 1,000,000 homes could be built on brownfield land New statistics published by the Department for Communities and Local Government show that existing stocks of available brownfield land could accommodate up to one million new homes. Previously developed land, often called brownfield land, is land that was developed but is now vacant or derelict, and land currently in use with known potential for redevelopment. The annual sta...


N&V; Aug: Tenants excluded

29.08.06 Tenants excluded from consultation meeting Cambridge council tenant representative John Marais has been told he cannot attend a consultation event on the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) discussion paper ?Decent Homes to Sustainable Communities?, organised by the Government Office for the East of England (GOEAST). Marais was elected by postal ballot as a tenant representative to the council?s housing manageme...


N&V; Aug: Homeowner claimed benefit
29.08.06 Homeowner claimed housing benefit A man who claimed housing benefits even though he had bought his own home has been prosecuted following an investigation by Hounslow council?s benefit fraud team. Muhammad Irfan, also known as Mian Irfan, pleaded guilty to eight charges of housing and council tax benefit fraud. He has been ordered to pay back nearly £6,000 in falsely claimed benefits and court costs. Investigations by Hounslow...
N&V; Aug: Scottish prices

25.08.06 5 per cent price increase over quarter in Scotland The average price for a residential property in Scotland increased by five per cent in the last quarter (April to June 2006) and is now £130,681, according to figures released by Registers of Scotland. This compares with a figure of £124,481 in the previous quarter (January to March 2006). The figure also represents an increase of 11.1 per cent over the same quarter last year. ...


N&V; Aug: Accessibility
23.08.06 Accessibility worst for over two decades The cost of becoming a home purchaser and the ongoing cost of housing are the worst for over two decades and will get worse, according to a new accessibility index developed by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS). A first time buyer will now have to save up to the equivalent of 74 per cent of joint take home pay, to build the £29,200 needed for up front buying costs on a typica...
N&V; Aug: Parental help
23.08.06 First time buyers expect parental help First time buyers take it for granted that they will get parental assistance in order to get onto the property ladder, staying at home for a considerable time in order to save money and generous financial support from parental savings, according to research from Abbey. Abbey found that first time buyers expect their parents to dig deep: · 23 per cent expect their parents to give or loan them ...
N&V; Aug: Unify strategies

22.08.06 Call to unify confusing housing strategies Knight Frank is calling for the south coast to end the confusion surrounding its myriad of housing strategies and unify its systems. Liam Bailey, head of residential research for Knight Frank, says that an integrated housing strategy would bring clarity, speed and transparency to housing systems and policies across the South. His call comes in the ?Solent Residential Development Review 20...


N&V; Aug: Mental health

21.08.06 Mental health services for homeless are inadequate According to a new report released by the Mental Health Foundation and Centrepoint, the increasing numbers of young homeless people with mental health problems are not getting adequate support because services rarely work together to provide the necessary help. Over two thirds (69 per cent) of the young homeless people aged 16-25 surveyed for the report have mental health problem...


N&V; Aug: Growth areas

20.08.06 Would you live here? The government?s growth areas have the potential to be a better model for delivering growth, but even if housing targets are met there will still be a discrepancy between supply and household formation, community tensions are possible, resources need to be identified, and infrastructure is required for sustainability, according to a new report from the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR). The IPPR repo...


N&V; Aug: EPO in Kent

18.08.06 New Housing Act powers used in Kent Thanet council in east Kent has become one of the first authorities in the country to issue an Emergency Prohibition Order under the Housing Act 2004. Council officers were called in to inspect a house in multiple occupation (HMO) in the Cliftonville area of Margate, after complaints from members of the public about the anti-social behaviour of the tenants and damage to the property. They found...


N&V; Aug: New house building
17.08.06 New house building figures Q2 The statistical release for new house building from the Department for Communities and Local Government for the quarter April to June show that housing starts are down but housing completions up, on the same period in 2005. The statistics are for new house building and exclude conversions and change of use. In England during the quarter to June 2006 there were: · 46,800 housing starts, down five per c...
N&V; Aug: Respect standard

17.08.06 New standards to tackle anti-social behaviour The importance of strong housing management in tackling anti-social behaviour in creating a community culture of respect is at the centre of a new government standard aimed at council and housing association landlords. The Respect standard for housing management outlines the core components essential to delivering an effective response to anti-social behaviour and building stronger com...


N&V; Aug: Revolution
17.08.06 Home ownership revolution David Cameron, addressing the Conservative first time buyer summit, has asked the public services policy group to look at proposals to extend home ownership through a rent-to-own programme. The concept is that households could turn their rent payments into mortgage payments, and so in time social tenants would own their homes. Soaring costs of living and higher stamp duty make it harder to save for a deposit...
N&V; Aug: South West crisis
17.08.06 South West housing crisis to worsen The South West is now officially the most unaffordable place to buy a home in the UK, and the region`s housing crisis is set to worsen, according to a new report. The research report, ?South West`s Housing Timebomb: Affordability and Supply 2006-2011? is jointly published by the National Housing Federation (NHF) and Chartered Institute of Housing, presents a picture of the regional housing market ...
N&V; Aug: Urban villages

16.08.06 Renewing suburbia, creating urban villages Conservatives propose to revolutionise the way our towns and cities look and feel by enabling local people to create mixed-use urban villages when regenerating their suburban housing estates.   These ?urban villages? would mix homes with employment uses, rented and freehold properties and would be developed so that all the key facilities would be within easy walking distance. The p...


N&V; Aug: Older people crisis
16.08.06 Housing crisis looms for older people A new report from Help the Aged warns that not enough is being done to maintain and adapt existing homes and that we are failing to keep up with the dramatic rise of an ageing population. At the moment, significant numbers of older people are still living in cold, run-down, damp houses in need of repair, heating and insulation. The report, ?Housing Choice for Older People?, highlights the ...
N&V; Aug: Buy-to-let market
16.08.06 Buy-to-let market sets new records Buy-to-let borrowing set new records in the first half of the year, with lenders advancing 152,500 loans, worth £17.5 billion, according to the Council of Mortgage Lenders (CML). The activity represented an increase of 17 per cent by volume and 20 per cent by value over the previous record totals, posted in the second half of 2005. There are now 767,000 outstanding residential buy-to-let mort...
N&V; Aug: Official data changed

14.08.06 Official house price data changed The previously published April and May 2006 house price index figures from the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) have been revised. Some additional data for the two months has been received, largely as a result of a small number of lenders supplying data quarterly. Overall, the difference in the published prices is £14 (0.0 per cent) for May and -£195 (-0.1 per cent) for April...


N&V; Aug: ARHAG
10.08.06 Senior officers removed at ARHAG The Housing Corporation has announced that it intends to make an order removing the chief executive and finance manager of ARHAG housing association. The removals follow consideration by the corporation?s board of the final report by the inquirers appointed to conduct a statutory inquiry into a number of aspects of the business of the association. The Housing Corporation announced the statutor...
N&V; Aug: Olympic village consortia
10.08.06 Consortia shortlisted for Olympic village The Stratford City development in east London has taken a further significant step forward with the announcement of a shortlist of three bidders competing to deliver major elements of the £4 billion scheme, including the athletes? village. The shortlisted candidates are: · Bouygues, leading a consortium including Barratt Homes · Lend Lease, leading a consortium including East Thames Gro...
N&V; Aug: Design statements
10.08.06 Design statements now required for all planning As part of its commitment to drive up standards of design and quality of new developments, planning applications will require a design and access statement from 10 August, Planning Minister Baroness Andrews has announced. The statements will set out how elements of design such as character and disability access have been considered, and will give local authorities greater understanding ...
N&V; Aug: Leeds ALMOs
09.08.06 Fewer ALMOs for Leeds Leeds is gearing up for a huge ballot of 72,000 council tenants on the future shape of the organisations that manage the city?s housing stock. A newsletter about the proposed changes to the number of Arms Length Management Organisations (ALMOs) in Leeds has been sent to all tenants and leaseholders, giving them information about the options they are voting on. The plan is to reduce the number of ALMOs, cu...
N&V; Aug: Repossession figures
04.08.06 Repossession figures significantly higher Figures released from the Council of Mortgage Lenders (CML) show that the number of properties taken into possession in the first half of this year was 8,140, which is 76 per cent higher than the same period last year. The number of properties as a percentage of outstanding mortgages, at 0.07 per cent, is very minor compared with the 0.4 per cent in the second half of 1991. Although the nu...
N&V; Aug: Tagged
04.08.06 Tagging for benefit fraud A middle-aged woman has been electronically tagged, and ordered to stay at home on weekends as punishment for falsely claiming benefits, in an unusual sentencing decision in Hounslow. Linda Brotherton, aged 53, made false claims for housing and council tax benefits, and received more than £6,500 over two and a half years. Feltham Magistrates ordered Brotherton to repay everything she falsely claimed a...
N&V; Aug: Bank rate
03.08.06 Bank rate up 0.25 per cent The Bank of England has raised interest rates by a quarter of a percentage point to 4.75 per cent. Barry Naisbitt, chief economist at Abbey, said: ?Today?s decision to raise base rates reflected a changing perception within the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) about the balance of risks on inflation, coming from new economic data. While the decision to raise rates today was something of a surprise given last...
N&V; Aug: Lessees
03.08.06 Lessees could suffer fines In a complex piece of government regulation, the thousands of homes in England converted into self-contained flats could become unmanageable and open up lessees to fines of up to £20,000 from October 2006, according to the Association of Residential Managing Agents (ARMA). During the building boom of the 1970s and 1980s many thousands of homes, whether terraced, semi-detached or detached, were converted int...
N&V; Aug: Planning agreements
03.08.06 More benefit needed from planning agreements Some councils are not making the most of the planning system to secure benefits for communities from new development, according to a report published by the Audit Commission. As part of the planning process, a local planning authority and a developer may enter into a legal agreement to provide infrastructure and services on or off the development site that cannot be secured through plannin...
N&V; Aug: Terms agreed

02.08.06 Terms agreed with urban regeneration developer First Base, the residential-led urban regeneration developer, has agreed terms to secure funding from the Housing Corporation to build subsidised affordable homes in England. The Housing Corporation has made an initial award of £4.32 million to First Base to build 76 affordable homes in Southwark, south London. First Base will deliver the new mixed tenure, mixed use project using a sp...


N&V; Aug: House prices

01.08.06 House prices warm up Housing market statistics released by Nationwide Building Society  show that house price growth rose by 0.8 per cent in July resulting in an annual rate of growth more than double this time last year, and rental demand is supporting house prices as affordability deteriorates. Fionnuala Earley, Nationwide?s group economist, said: ?While temperatures soared on the streets, house price growth remained fairly com...


N&V; Aug: Disabled
02.08.06 New service to help disabled A specialist service has been launched aimed at ensuring more people living with disabilities can participate in the homestake shared equity scheme. The scheme has been introduced by Communities Scotland, the Executive?s housing and regeneration agency, to help people on low incomes who wish to become home owners but cannot pay the full price. The new service will help registered social landlords to targe...
N&V; July: Mortgage approvals
31.07.06 Mortgage approvals up in June Figures released by the Bank of England (BoE) show that the number of new mortgage approvals for home purchases were a seasonally adjusted 120,000 in June compared to 117,000 in May. Approvals are up 25 per cent from the same period a year ago compared to a 23.2 per cent rise in May. These figures reinforce the message from figures released by the British Bankers Association which showed that activity in...
N&V; July: Low cost
31.07.06  New partner for low cost home ownership Advantage, a Morgan Stanley group company, will join Halifax Bank of Scotland, Nationwide and Yorkshire building societies, as a private sector partner in the government?s open market homebuy scheme, which will increase the purchasing power of eligible households by around 25 per cent. From October, households qualifying for the scheme will be able to apply for a regular mortgage topped up wit...
N&V; July: Leaseholders
28.07.06 Leaseholders forgotten in HIPs u-turn The sudden announcement that the government was to reduce the requirements for the controversial Home Information Packs (HIPs) may leave leaseholders at even more of a disadvantage to their freeholder neighbours, warns the Association of Residential Managing Agents (ARMA). HIPs for leaseholders were going to contain the now voluntary Home Condition Report (HCR) but were also going to require a gr...
N&V; July: Wessex lights

27.07.06 All green lights for Wessex HG First Wessex housing group (FWHG) has been awarded four green lights by the Housing Corporation in an assessment to show that it is fully compliant with the regulatory code and meets development performance standards. The group was assessed against four key areas ? financial viability, governance, management and development ? and gained the highest rating in each. David Smith, chief executive ...


N&V; July: South Somerset
27.07.06 South Somerset planning poor The planning service provided by South Somerset district council is poor and has uncertain prospects of improvement, according to an independent report released by the Audit Commission. On a scale from zero to three stars, the inspection team gave the service no stars. The planning service has suffered a serious decline in the past three years. Key performance indicators for development control are in the...
N&V; July: Alliance
25.07.06 Rural crisis forces alliance As house prices in some rural areas reach almost ten times local earnings, the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) and the National Housing Federation (NHF) have joined together to call on the government to address this crisis urgently. CRPE, which promotes the beauty, tranquillity and diversity of rural England, and the NHF, which represents 1,400 housing associations in England, have published a jo...
N&V; July: Jail term

25.07.06 Jail term, but suspended A woman who attempted to obtain a Southwark council house by deception  was handed a suspended jail sentence at Inner London crown court. Aminata Bangura, 48, of Regina Point, Rotherhithe, had been found guilty of two offences related to using false Home Office documents, birth certificates and child benefit letters, following a detailed investigation by the council. She was sentenced to nine months imp...


N&V; July: Rationalisation
25.07.06 Benefits of stock rationalisation The Chartered Institute of Housing (CIH) has published the reports of two independent commissions on the impact of rationalising housing association stock, where housing associations consolidate their management of properties in fewer geographical areas. The two commissions in Manchester and South Hampshire identify clear benefits from rationalisation, though they also point out that, over the short ...
N&V; July: Proposals

25.07.06 Planning proposals to achieve housing delivery Minister for Housing and Planning, Yvette Cooper, has launched a consultation on planning and housing incentives, to help local authorities to respond to the local housing needs of their community. The government is consulting on proposals for a new housing delivery grant and reforms to the existing planning delivery grant (PDG) to benefit local councils who respond to local housing d...


N&V; July: Complaints
25.07.06 Tenants complain about?complaints For the first time since the inception of the Housing Ombudsman Service (HOS), complaints about how landlords handle complaints through their internal procedures have taken the pole position in the list of problems brought to the attention of the service. Housing Ombudsman, Dr Mike Biles, said: ?It is understandable that tenants feel frustrated when they identify shortcomings in their landlords? perf...
N&V; July: Funding award

24.07.06 Largest funding award for house builder George Wimpey, one of the country?s leading house builders, has agreed the final terms on a contract to secure funding from the Housing Corporation to build subsidised affordable homes in England. The funding award of an initial £31.73 million represents the largest award to a house builder under the corporation?s national investment programme. It will provide 958 new homes across nine sites...


N&V; July: Merger review
24.07.06 Merger review extended The remit of a review of the institutional structures for delivery of the government?s housing and regeneration programme, including the possible merger of English Partnerships and the Housing Corporation, has been extended. Communities and Local Government Secretary, Ruth Kelly, said that the review, which is looking at how the government can ensure a more coherent approach to delivering new housing and mixed ...
N&V; July: Valuable
24.07.06 Housing is most valuable asset The UK?s most valuable asset is housing representing 59 per cent of total wealth, according to a report from the Office of National Statistics. The total value of housing is £3,575 billion, up four per cent on the previous year. Of this, £3,356 billion belongs to households and non-profit organisations. The total value of the UK at the end of 2005 was £6.0 trillion, an increase of £119 billion on the...
N&V; July: West Somerset

20.07.06 West Somerset needs to do more for residents The housing services provided by West Somerset council are poor with uncertain prospects for improvement, according to an independent report released by the Audit Commission. On a scale from zero to three stars, the Audit Commission inspection team gave the service no stars. This is because performance in several key areas of the service, notably delivery of affordable housing and impro...


N&V; July: HCRs voluntary

18.07.06 Home condition reports to be voluntary The government has announced new proposals to phase in the introduction of Home Information Packs (HIPs), including the change to make Home Condition Reports (HCRs) voluntary, and the prioritising of energy efficiency information. This means that HIPs will be introduced in June next year with searches and energy performance information. However, on the basis of detailed consultation with indu...


N&V; July: North south divide

18.07.06 Boom widens north/south divide A house price boom in London and the South East has widened the north/south divide, according to the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) housing market survey for June. House prices rose in June despite rises in unemployment and volatile financial markets, with 28 per cent more chartered surveyors reporting a rise rather than a fall, compared to 21 per cent in May. London and the S...


N&V; July: Tenancy deposit
17.07.06 Tenancy deposit protection delayed The introduction of tenancy deposit protection scheme for the private rented sector has been delayed from October 2006 to 6 April 2007. The new launch date will enable the government to deal with concerns raised by key stakeholders, including tenants, landlords and lettings agents, during consultation. The majority of consultation responses from landlord and letting agent representative organisation...
N&V; July: Average price

17.07.06 Average house price to rise to £300,000 The average house price in England will be nearly £300,000 in five years? time, according to a new report published by the National Housing Federation (NHF), the trade body for England?s 1400 housing associations. The new housing market forecasts, produced by Oxford Economic Forecasting (OEF), and published in the NHF?s report `England?s Housing Timebomb: affordability and supply 2006-2011`,...


N&V; July: £50 million
14.07.06 £50 million for homeless and overcrowded in London £50 million to help homeless and overcrowded families in London has been announced by Housing Minister Yvette Cooper. The new funds will help vulnerable families in the capital, alongside a public consultation also announced, on raising outdated statutory overcrowding standards which haven?t changed for seventy years. £39 million of investment will help councils provide settle...
N&V; July: Administration

14.07.06 More efficient administration needed According to a report from the National Audit Office (NAO), better targeting of low cost home ownership (LCHO) assistance at those most in need of help and more efficient administration of the programmes could help more than 4,000 additional households each year. Since 1999, LCHO assistance has helped 40,000 people to buy their properties. In 2004/05, 11,000 households received assistance throu...


N&V; July: Scottish planning

14.07.06 New planning approach in Scotland A whole new approach to bring people into the planning system in Scotland has been outlined by the Scottish Executive. Advice in the new blueprint explains how communities must be actively engaged from the outset by local authorities and developers in shaping their own futures. It also says people should be fully involved in the preparation of development plans setting out the vision for their ar...


N&V; July: Energy efficiency

14.07.06 Energy efficiency out of reach The Chartered Institute of Housing (CIH) welcomes the commitments laid out in the government?s energy review to improve the energy efficiency of UK homes, but calls for a greater emphasis on existing stock in the private sector, not just new-build homes. New construction accounts for only two per cent of the housing stock in the UK. The remaining existing housing is largely in the hands of private ow...


N&V; July: Estate agents
13.07.06 Estate agents required to join ombudsman scheme In an interview with Property Week magazine, Trade Minister, Ian McCartney, announced that all 12,000 of England?s estate agents will be forced to join an ombudsman scheme or be banned from trading. The measure will form part of a new Consumer Bill giving stronger powers to trading standards officials to investigate malpractice and remove rogue agents. The Department of Trad...
N&V; July: Private finance
14.07.06 Increase in private finance for social investment Borrowing in the housing association sector topped £26 billion at 31 March 2005, according to the Housing Corporation?s Annual Review of Housing Association Finance, just published. Highlights from the review include: · the sector has arranged total private facilities of £35.9 billion at 31.03.06, £25.6 billion of those facilities had been drawn down at that date, representing a ni...
N&V; July: New powers
13.07.06 New powers for London Ruth Kelly, Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, has set out new lead roles for the Mayor of London on housing and planning. She said: ?We want to achieve the right balance of powers between national government, the Greater London Authority and the London boroughs, to ensure that London continues to hold its deserved position as a global city with a highly successful economy. We are devolving...
N&V; July: Fire
13.07.06 Team response to emergency All students staying at Middlesex University halls of residence, in Aerodrome Road, Colindale, are safe and well after an emergency plan put together by Servite Houses ensured all students were safely evacuated and re-housed when a fire was discovered on the neighbouring St George plc development. As soon as Servite became aware of the fire, students were evacuated from all halls on the site ? owned and man...
N&V; July: Supporting people
12.07.06 Possible statutory duty for supporting people The National Housing Federation (NHF) has welcomed the Local Government Minister?s suggestion that the supporting people programme could become a statutory duty, while warning that concerns still remain about future funding and stability of the programme. Responding to the keynote address by Local Government Minister, Phil Woolas, to the NHF support and care conference, Fahmeeda Gill, NHF...
N&V; July: World Cup winners
12.07.06 Real winners of World Cup Sunday?s final not only signalled the close of another World Cup, but also the successful conclusion of ?6 villages for 2006?, the joint World Cup campaign between FIFA and SOS Children?s Villages. The campaign has seen the world of football digging deep into its pockets, exceeding the £12 million target, and ensuring that the real winners of this year?s World Cup are some of the world?s most vulnerable chil...
N&V; July: Official prices
10.07.06 Official house prices for May The Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) has released the official house price index for May 2006. The mix-adjusted average house price in the UK in May 2006 stood at £190,051, up from £188,290 in April 2006 (not seasonally adjusted). UK annual house price inflation in May 2006 was 5.6 per cent, up from 5.1 per cent in April 2006. The 0.9 per cent rise compares with a smaller ris...
N&V; July: Warwickshire poor
06.07.06 Warwickshire supporting people still poor The supporting people programme overseen by Warwickshire county council has been rated poor for the second time, a report released by the independent Audit Commission reveals. The report follows a re-inspection of the council?s administration of the £10 million programme to provide housing related support services for vulnerable people. On a scale from zero to three stars, the Audit Commissio...
N&V; July: Bromsgrove failing
06.07.06 Bromsgrove failing to meet housing needs The strategic housing services provided by Bromsgrove district council are poor with uncertain prospects of improvement, according to a report released by the independent Audit Commission. On a scale from zero to three stars, the Audit Commission inspection team gave the service, which covers issues such as homelessness and private sector housing services, a poor zero star rating. The council ...
N&V; July: Licensing HMOs
05.07.06 Powers to enforce licensing of HMOs From 6 July landlords failing to licence their properties in multiple occupation (HMOs) can be prosecuted by councils and face fines of up to £20,000. The new power strengthens the government?s reforming drive to further protect tenants and raise both health and safety and management levels in the private rented sector. In addition, guidance is being issued to councils on the procedures they mus...
N&V; July: Micro-generation

04.07.06 Planning restrictions to be cut for micro-generation The government is to cut planning restrictions on micro-renewable technology as a new report proposes streamlining the planning system for household applications. Ministers have announced that the government will reduce planning restrictions for small scale micro-generation ? including solar panels and small wind-turbines ? as part of measures to simplify the planning system around ...


N&V; July: Planning reform
04.07.06 Planning reform interim report published Kate Barker, invited by the Chancellor and Deputy Prime Minister to review the land use planning system in England, has published her interim report. She said: ?The planning system contributes hugely to people?s quality of life and sustainable development. A world-class planning system has to deliver the right balance between multiple public policy objectives; it also needs to be flexible and ...
N&V; June: Traveller grants
29.06.06 Grants for Gypsy and traveller sites Meg Munn, minister at the Department for Communities and Local Government, has announced details of funding to help local authorities provide new and refurbished sites for Gypsies and travellers in their areas, and tackle unauthorised camping. For 2006/07, the Government has approved £16.75m of investment through the grants for schemes which will provide 134 additional pitches for Gypsies and travelle...
N&V; June: Mortgage approvals
29.06.06 Reaction to mortgage approvals data Figures released today by the Bank of England show that the number of new mortgage approvals for home purchases were a seasonally adjusted 117,000 in May, up from 106,000 in April. Approvals, which are an indicator of housing market demand, are up 23.2 per cent from the same period last year and are well above the historical average of 97,000 per month. Demand conditions have been firm for most of...
N&V; June: Wales

28.06.06 New measures for Wales More families and young people across Wales should have access to affordable housing afte...


N&V; June: Discovery
28.06.06 Archaeological discovery on site Linden Homes unearthed a host of archaeological artefacts as part of a £1million excavation of a site in Southampton, including a 14th century crossbow and the stock of a 1940s chemist`s shop which fell into one of the medieval vaults of a result of wartime bombing. With ...
N&V; June: Investment
27.06.06 Landlords continue to invest Average rents achieved on residential investment properties remain steady according to the June edition of Paragon Mortgages? Buy-to-Let Index.  The typical landlord earns a gross rental income on each property of £10,189, or just over £849 per month, a rise of 0.8 per cent.  This compares with April?s figure of £10,113 and March?s of £10,082.  At the same time, investment property prices continue to edge up, ...
N&V; June: Social housing bites
23.06.06B Bites of social housing This week in Harrogate the great and the good of social housing aired their views and made announcements at the Chartered Institute of Housing?s (CIH) annual conference....
N&V; June: Tenancy deposits
23.06.06 Responses to tenancy deposit published The responses to the Government?s Consultation on how the tenancy deposit protection (TDP) been published today by the Department for Communities and Local Government, reflecting complex issues and concerns expressed by private landlords and letting agents about the issue of rent arrears and abandonment of tenancies. The government has agreed to look at these aspec...
N&V; June: Private house builder funding
20.06.06 First private house builder secures public funding Barratt Homes Limited, one of the country?s biggest and best known house builders, has made history by becoming the first ever private house builder to agree the final terms of a contract to secure funding from the Housing Corporation to build  subsidised affordable homes in England. The Housing Corporation has made an initial award of £4.37 million to Barratt Homes to build 153 affo...
N&V; June: Biggest builder contract
22.06.06 Contract for UK?s largest house builder Persimmon, the UK?s largest house builder, has agreed the final terms of a contract to secure funding from the Housing Corporation to build subsidised affordable homes in England.  This represents the first time a combined grant has been awarded to a private house builder, utilising funds from the Housing Corporation?s new partners in Affordable Housing Programme (NPiAH) and National Affordabl...
N&V; June: Residents set fees
22.06.06 Residents to set contractors fees An innovative new scheme is allowing Westminster residents to monitor the success of housing estate contractors and pay them accordingly. Under new local service improvement compacts, believed to be the first in the country, residents most pressing concerns or areas they feel can be improved are being turned into ?contracts? between themselves, their estate manager and CityWest Homes. The agre...
N&V; June: South Essex zero stars
22.06.06 Tenants of South Essex Homes get a zero star service The service provided by South Essex Homes is poor with uncertain prospects for improvement, according to a report released today by the independent Audit Commission. On a scale from zero to three stars the Audit Commission inspection team gave the arms length management organisation (ALMO) set up by Southend borough council a poor zero star rating.  There were few areas of strengt...
N&V; June: Brunel service poor
22.06.06 Brunel`s housing service remains poor The housing service provided by Brunel and Family housing association to its customers is rated as poor but with promising prospects for improvement, according to an independent report released today by the Audit Commission. In the inspection report a team of housing inspectors from the Audit Commission gave the association zero stars, on a scale from zero to three stars. They found that the ass...
N&V; June: CLTs
21.06.06 Communities set to take greater control over affordable housing Individual communities across England look set to provide more and more affordable housing for themselves in the future, according to the Housing Corporation which is funding significant new research into the use of community land trusts (CLTs). Community land trusts allow ownership of land by the local community to provide affordable homes or other facilities to meet l...
N&V; June: Size matters
20.06.06 Who determines property size? A shortage of affordable family-sized housing the capital is resulting in overcrowding, a report out today by the London Assembly has revealed. The report, Size Matters - the need for more family homes in London, said that the type and mix of affordable housing being built does not match the needs of Londoners.  In order to meet their ?affordable units? targets, house-builders often supply onl...
N&V; June: Ladder
20.06.06 Social housing - a ladder to ownership An independent assessment of social housing, led by Professor John Hills, has been announced by Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government Ruth Kelly. In her first major housing speech, to the Chartered Institute of Housing`s annual conference, Ms Kelly said social housing should help people to get on in life. She also called on every local authority and housing association to co...
N&V; June: RICS policy

23.06.06 Greater direct private sector involvement

The recent decision to award private house builders direct Housing Corporation funding to build subsidised affordable homes has been welcomed by the Royal...


N&V; June: Reaction to report
20.06.06 Reaction to housing report The ODPM Select Committee report, Affordability and the Supply of Housing, just released has prompted a range of comments: Shadow Local Government Secretary, Caroline Spelman, said: The planning system should make sure that the right houses are built in the right places, but this just isn?t happening. This report confirms that instead of focusing on regenerating genuine brown field sites the government is s...
N&V; June: ODPM housing report
20.06.06 Build enough homes to meet needs and aspirations, urge MPs The government is committed to increasing the housing supply to meet the demands of those in serious housing need or who aspire to a better home, but it must make sure that this programme is sufficient to meet all these requirements, urges a report from the ODPM Select Committee. The report on affordability and the supply of housing also says that the programme must make s...
N&V; June: Car parking
20.06.06 Designing for cars The only toolkit for designing for the car has just been published by English Partnerships in association with Design for Homes. Which street parking arrangement gives you the most bays for the least land? Can a 21 by 21 sq metre plot really accommodate 108 cars? How much more efficient is unallocated parking? How many cars does the average household own, according to the Census? Car Parking: W...
N&V; June: Immigration
19.06.06 Immigration links to housing shortage? In a report just released, Migrationwatch has said that because the scale of the increase in immigration has not, until very recently, been factored into the house building programme, it has exacerbated housing shortages and created serious issues of affordability. But claims that Britain`s housing shortage is mainly the result of a huge rise in immigration have been flatly rejected by the gover...
N&V; June: House prices
15.06.06 House prices show strongest rise in two years House prices have shown the strongest rise in two years, says RICS? (Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors) UK housing market survey published today. House prices rose as demand strengthened on the back of a healthy economic environment and consumer confidence, with 20 percent more chartered surveyors reporting a rise than a fall compared to 15 percent in April. The recent turbulenc...
N&V; June: HIP regulations
14.06.06 Contents of home information packs published The government has unveiled the detailed contents of home information packs (HIPs), setting out a three-way strategy involving HIPs, local searches, e-conveyancing and stronger redress against estate agents and others when things go wrong. The aim is to encourage greater competition and transparency in home buying and selling, so that people know exactly what they are paying for. Ho...
N&V; June: Energy certificate
14.06.06 Energy certificates not efficient, says ecohomes developer Places for People, developer of the UK?s largest EcoHomes site, believes the cost of administering the government?s energy efficiency rating announced by the housing minister is too high and will cost the industry £40 million, money that could be better spent otherwise improving homes. The Energy Performance in Buildings (EPBD) directive will require all landlords to produce ...
N&V; June: Energy rating
14.06.06 Compulsory energy rating for homes Energy ratings similar to consumer-friendly fridge ratings will have to be produced for every home bought and sold in England from next June, the government announced today. Housing Minister Yvette Cooper has launched the new energy performance certificate (EPC) which will be an essential part of the home information packs (HIPs) to be introduced next year. The certificates will give home buy...
N&V; June: London housing targets
13.06.06 Mayor outlines new housing targets for London Mayor of London, Ken Livingstone, has told a public inquiry that there is capacity to build an additional 30,650 new homes in the capital each year, which represents a 33 per cent increase over the provisional targets published in the London plan. Addressing the inquiry the Mayor said: ?These alterations all arise from commitments made in the London plan to bring forward new targets as ea...
N&V; June: Private rented sector
13.06.06 Healthy investment climate in private rented sector The results of the latest Association of Residential Letting Agents (ARLA) quarterly survey of members shows that average asset values and rents throughout the country provide a healthy investment climate in the private sector. The asset value of property in London and the South East has continued to rise in contrast to falls reported in parts of the rest of the country. Rents have ...
N&V; June: De-regulation
13.06.06 Significant de-regulation in housing association sector The Housing Corporation will meet all 48 of the recommendations directed to the organisation in the Elton Report within 12 months it announced today, in one of the largest single de-regulation packages ever offered to part of the non-profit making sector.  It is anticipated that this will remove at least ten per cent from the cost of regulation for over 1,500 housing associatio...
N&V; June: Efficiency gains
13.06.06 More efficiency gains expected Local authorities in England are on course to deliver a further £1.3 billion worth of efficiency gains in 2006/07, according to figures published by the Department for Communities and Local Government. Local authority (combined) social housing is expected to achieve efficiency gains of £93.9 million, supporting people £38.4 million, and homelessness £12.3 million....
N&V; June: Tenant agenda
12.06.06 New tenant agenda set by Housing Corporation Resident accountability must be at the heart of housing association governance, according to Housing Corporation chief executive Jon Rouse, who signalled a new approach to tenant engagement for housing associations in his recent speech at the TPAS national consultative forum. The announcement follows the independent Elton Review on Regulatory and Compliance Requirements for RSLs, commissi...
N&V; June: Housing and education
09.06.06 Good housing raises educational standards Dame Mavis Grant, head teacher of Canning primary school in Newcastle, is one of the people featured in a new film from the Chartered Institute of Housing (CIH) who testify to the enormous contribution good housing makes to education, health and well-being of their children and their families. The short film highlights the importance of continued investment in housing and the value it brings ...
N&V; June: Planning system
08.06.06 Planning system must support renewables says Minister Housing and Planning Minister Yvette Cooper has urged all local authorities to include on-site renewable energy measures in their local development plans to help tackle climate change. A Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) survey of local plans reveals many local authorities are now adopting new requirements in their plans for on-site renewable energy in new dev...
N&V; June: Construction orders
08.06.06 New construction orders figures released Statistics for new construction orders show falls in private housing, public housing and housing associations all fell in the three months to April 2006, but rose in the previous 12 months. Private housing orders in the 12 months to April 2006 rose by one per cent compared to those in the previous 12 months. Orders in the three months to April 2006 fell by one per cent compared with the previo...
N&V; June: Erewash housing service
08.06.06 Zero stars for Erewash housing service The housing service provided by Erewash borough council is ?poor? and its prospects for improvement ?uncertain?, according to a report by the independent Audit Commission. The commission inspectors gave the service, which manages the development of affordable housing and the improvement of private sector housing as well as providing housing advice, no stars out of a possible three. The council d...
N&V; June: NW Leices housing service
08.06.06 No star report for North West Leicestershire?s housing service The housing service provided by North West Leicestershire district council is ?poor? and has ?uncertain prospects? for improvement, according to a report released today by the independent Audit Commission. On a scale from zero to three stars the inspection team gave the service a ?poor? no star rating. Performance in most areas of the service is weak and some way below th...
N&V; June: Bedfordshire supporting people
08.06.06 Bedfordshire gets no stars for supporting people The delivery of the £7.2 million supporting people programme provided by Bedfordshire county council is ?poor? and has ?uncertain prospects? to improve, according to a report released by the independent Audit Commission. The inspection team awarded the programme a ?poor? no star rating on a scale from zero to three stars. The council and its partners have not, until recently, provided ...
N&V; June: Olympic masterplan
07.06.06 Olympic park and legacy masterplan finalised Less than a year since the decision to award London as the 2012 Olympics venue, the final masterplan for the site has been unveiled, incorporating a lasting games legacy. The revised design retains the key Olympic stadium, aquatics centre and village venues while enabling hockey, cycling (including BMX), and tennis to form a major new sports and leisure hub for the local communities, for L...
N&V; June: EcoHomes XB
06.06.06 Environmental efficiency assessment for existing homes The Building Research Establishment (BRE) and the Housing Corporation have launched EcoHomes XB, an enviromental efficiency assessment for exisiting homes. Designed to enable property managers and landlords to assess the environmental efficiency of their stock, the assessment will help identify potential for improvement, and to measure improvement when works have been carried out...
N&V; June Thames floodplain consultation
06.06.06 Thames floodplain consultation launched The Environment Agency has launched an online consultation with the 1.25 million people who live and work within the floodplain of the Thames estuary. Over the next 25-100 years sea levels and the effects of climate change will continue to increase, and with that, so will flood risk. At the same time the pressure for development in the South East of England means that many communities within th...
N&V; June Dumfries suspends right to buy
05.06.06 Dumfries suspends right to buy Ministers have accepted the case put by Dumfries and Galloway council for 69 rural villages in its areas to be designated as ?pressured? for the purposes of right to buy. This means that tenancies which commenced on or after 30 September 2002 within the designated areas will have the right to buy their rented housing association house suspended for five years. It is estimated that 104 current tenancies ...
N&V; June Supporting People cuts
05.06.06 Supporting People service cuts: SFHA urges Minister to act The Scottish Federation of Housing Associations (SFHA) has warned Communities Minister, Malcolm Chisholm, that support services for some of society?s most vulnerable members are being cut following a reduction in Supporting People funding. A recent survey conducted by SFHA has found that almost a quarter of housing association providers have been forced to cut some or all of ...
N&V; May Never heard of HIPs
31.05.06  Two thirds of people have never heard of HIPs Two thirds of members of the public have never heard of Home Information Packs (HIPs), according to new research by pollsters ICM. And only one in three of those who have heard of HIPs realises that the packs will contain important legal documents ? including title documents and local searches. ?This latest study dramatically underlines what we have been telling the property and l...
N&V; May: National Fraud Initiative report
30.05.06 £111m in frauds and overpayments detected The Audit Commission?s National Fraud Initiative (NFI) has reported detecting frauds and overpayments of £111 million. The NFI report for 2004/05 shows a 33 per cent increase in the amount of fraud detected over the previous exercise, making a cumulative total of over £300 million detected since the scheme began eight years ago. NFI is currently carried out over two-year periods. The l...
N&V; May: Household junk mountain
30.05.06 Household junk mountain costing millions of pounds in lost space Britain is being swamped by a household junk mountain that is costing the country millions of pounds in lost space, reveals a recent analysis undertaken by Any Junk?. The analysis shows that the average de-clutter frees up 60 sq ft of space, about half a room in a semi-detached house. With house prices still rising, a square foot of space in a residential property is wo...
N&V; May: Property advice for pensioners
28.05.06 Money and property advice needed for poor pensioners The government should provide free financial advice for pensioners to help them decide whether to sell their homes, according to new research from the Institute for Public Policy Research (ippr). The report says a telephone advice service is the best way to explain to pensioners living in big houses but on small incomes whether it is in their financial interest to trade down by sel...
N&V; May Gypsy and traveller task group
25.05.06 New Gypsy and traveller task group to champion better enforcement A new Gypsy and traveller enforcement task group of the Department for Communities and Local Government will explore how to improve the use of enforcement powers to tackle the problem of unauthorised sites. In addition to examining the effectiveness of current powers, the group will look at what new measures could help tackle the problem. It will also look into the pre...
N&V; May: Tenant demand pushes rents up
26.05.06 Tenant demand pushes rents up Rent rises accelerated for the second consecutive quarter, driven by a combination of economic and demographic factors, says the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) in its latest lettings survey. Twenty per cent more chartered surveyors report a rise in rental levels, with rents climbing at their fastest pace since July 2001. Economic growth, rising employment and inward migration from EU acc...
N&V; May: Tories new approach
23.05.06 Shadow chancellor launches ?new approach? to homeownership Shadow chancellor George Osborne MP has outlined the Tory?s new approach for homeownership, expressing the need to increase supply of land available for development and saying that the government had sought to ?antagonise local communities instead of working with them.? In a presentation to the British Property Federation (BPF), Mr Osborne insisted that maintaining a stable a...
N&V; May: Demand for private rented
23.05.06 £100bn needed to meet demand for private rented housing New research by Hometrack, the housing information business, projects that demand for private rented housing is set to rise by 600,000 households by 2021. In order to meet this demand, new investment of over £100 billion will be required. ?Demographic changes are the primary driver of future demand for rented housing,? said the report author Richard Donnell, director of rese...
N&V; May: Housing trends in Scotland
23.05.06 Housing trends in Scotland Starts up, completions down, were two of the main points that emerged from the statistical bulletin of housing trends in Scotland for the last quarter in 2005 just released. The bulletin presents information on public sector house sales, new house building and local authority lettings and evictions. New house building activity was two per cent more starts (at 5,525) than the same period the previous ...
N&V; May 2-23

NEWS & VIEWS

23.05.06 An end to Crown immunity from planning control The Crown will no longer be immune from English planning law, under new legislation that comes into force on 7 June. The changes to the planning system will mean the Crown will now have to apply for planning permission from th...


N&V; April 2006

News & Views April 2006

27.04.06 West Kent HA awarded three stars West Kent has become the first housing association in England to be awarded the maximum three stars for its ?excellent? housing services since the Audit Commission introduced its new inspection methodolgy in May 2004. An independent report by the Audit Commission also finds the association?s services have ?excellent prospects for improvement?. The Audit Commiss...


N&V; March 2006

Property People News & Views

March 06

31.03.06 Nesting syndrome costs expectant mums £556 million a year Pregnant women in the UK spend  £556,557,270 annually when the ?nesting urge? strikes and they rush to prepare the perfect home for their new baby. This is according to more than 1000 new mothers questioned by TrustMark, the government backed scheme to help the publi...


N&V; February 06

Property People News & Views

February 06

28.02.06 January mortgage lending at record level

Total mortgage approvals worth £14.5bn last month set a new record for January lending, latest figures from the British Bankers? Association (BBA) have revealed.  But while that figure represents a 25 per cent leap on the previous year, the BBA pointed out that it is only marginally higher than the lending total in January 2004, indicat...


N&V; January 2006

Property People News & Views

January 06

31.01.06 Brownfield development reaches record level Homebuilding on previously developed land has hit a new record high of 72 per cent, according statistics based on changes in land use recorded by  Ordnance Survey during their map revision work. The proportion of new homes built on brownfield sites is up from 56 per cent in 1997. Meanwhile, the average density of new homes ...


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