HQN Asset Management Network News

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The Asset Management Network routinely looks over the biggest and most relevant news stories, reports and publications for members, covering the latest updates for everyone working in asset management, repairs and maintenance, and environmental issues.

For more expert analysis, briefings and best practice for those involved in the safety of residents and employees, be sure to join the Asset Management Network. You can find out more here.

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The house that robots built

The house, built by Switzerland’s National Centre of Competence in Research in Digital Fabrication, demonstrates what a computer-designed, robot-built house could look like.

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UK construction sector shrinks as Brexit uncertainty spreads

The Markit/CIPS UK Construction Purchasing Managers’ Index recorded a reading of 48.6 for May, down from 50.5 in April. Economists were expecting a figure of 50.5. A reading above 50 indicates growth; below represents contraction.

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RSH publishes quarterly survey for Q4 (January to March) 2018 to 2019

The latest figures from The Regulator of Social Housing finds that the sector remains financially strong. New finance of £4.5bn was agreed in the quarter, while the sector raised new facilities worth a total of £13.5bn, which is the highest amount for a single year.

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House-building now accounts for 60% of all new construction work

Of the £5.0bn of new construction contracts recorded by the Builders’ Conference in May 2019, £3.0bn were in the house-building sector.

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Housing, Communities and Local Government Committee launch inquiry into long-term delivery of social and affordable rented housing

The new inquiry will investigate the effectiveness of the Government’s current strategies to boost social and affordable rented housing provision. This will include the adequacy of funding levels, as well as programmes and incentives for key stakeholders, such as local authorities and housing associations, to stimulate delivery.

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Number of new homes built on Green Belt land halves

Latest land use change stats released by MHCLG show that, in 2017-18, 2% of new residential addresses created were within the Green Belt – down from 4% the previous year.

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Grenfell Inquiry gets two new panel members

Appointments come with Theresa May’s recommendation, a week after she faced criticism for referencing the inquiry in her resignation address.

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Vast majority of tenants and owners face connectivity issues in their property

Consumers are paying the price for residential developers’ historic lack of investment in digital connectivity with 85% of tenants and owners facing issues, according to new research.

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Council houses built in Wales for first time in decades

Cardiff, Carmarthenshire, Anglesey, Denbighshire, Flintshire, Wrexham, Powys, Pembrokeshire, Swansea and Vale of Glamorgan councils are among those now building their own homes again.

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London councils turn heat on government over fire safety

With experts warning of test failure, the body representing London’s boroughs wants a more transparent process.

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Low carbon solutions for landlords and housing associations are viable, says study

Landlords are being urged to consider low carbon property upgrades that can deliver better outcomes for tenants with a new study suggesting they can be done cost effectively.

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Cadent pays £24m for past failures and establishes a £20m community fund

Thousands of residents of blocks of flats served by Cadent were left without gas for longer than they could have been, while others did not receive the required compensation. The organisation also had no records of 775 high rise blocks of flats in its gas network.

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Thousands of Gateshead council house tenants ‘exposed to danger’ from fire and asbestos

Thousands of families were “exposed to an unknown risk of danger over a long period” in Gateshead council homes.

The Gateshead Housing Company (TGHC), the council’s arms-length company which manages over 19,000 properties, has been slammed by a government watchdog for failing to meet statutory health and safety requirements.

The regulator for social housing has ruled that, through TGHC, the council had “failed to meet statutory health and safety requirements across a range of areas including fire safety, asbestos and electrical safety”.

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Climate change heavyweight calls for UK building regulations reform

Committee on Climate Change chair Lord Deben said that the UK should focus on ensuring all new homes are as efficient as possible with current housing failing to meet standards.

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Lord Deben will be speaking at the HQN annual conference 2019. For more information, click here.

Regulator writes to local authorities to remind them of consumer standards

The Regulator of Social Housing has written to chief executives of local authorities who own housing stock, reminding them of their obligations under the Regulator’s consumer standards, particularly with respect expectations on health and safety.

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Savills research: Planning and housing delivery

The annual number of residential consents granted has exceeded 300,000 in England for the past two years. This level needs to be sustained and even pushed higher if the target rate of completions is to be achieved over the long term. But, recently, there has been a downturn in the volume of permissions; is this merely a blip or a trend to be concerned about?

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Scottish councils back plans to force sale of empty homes

The initiative would allow local authorities to put homes which have been vacant for an undue period of time up for sale at public auctions. The Scottish Government has pledged to bring in the powers by 2021.

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Japan’s biggest housebuilder, Sekisui House, moves into UK

Japan’s biggest housebuilder will move into the UK housing market with immediate effect after striking a multi-million pound deal that will see it work with Homes England and Urban Splash to deliver thousands of new homes across England.

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Birmingham sets out 10-year house-building plan

Birmingham Municipal Housing Trust, the city council’s house-building arm, has published plans to build 2,708 new homes by 2029.

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Government to fund and speed up vital cladding replacement

Around £200m will be made available to remove and replace unsafe cladding from around 170 privately owned high-rise buildings.

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Environment Agency calls for £1bn a year to protect against flooding as climate warms

Homes hit by flooding need to be “built back better”, with improvements such as raised electrics and hard flooring, while some communities may have to be helped to move in the face of growing risks of flooding and coastal erosion.

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More than £900m spent on contracted brownfield housing schemes

Housing minister Kit Malthouse says 74% of total spend from the Home Building Fund Long Term Fund will lead to 70,062 housing units.

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Malthouse confirms biodiversity safeguard

The forthcoming Environment Bill will ensure housing delivery does not come at the expense of “vital biodiversity”.

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Housebuilding returns UK construction sector to growth in April – PMI

The IHS Markit/CIPS construction Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) rose to a three-month high of 50.5 in April from March’s 49.7, a shade higher than the reading of 50.3 forecast on average in a Reuters poll of economists.

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Impact of modern methods of construction on skills requirements for housing: research summary

Research to estimate the potential contribution that increasing uptake of modern methods of construction can make to reducing the workforce requirements for delivering new homes.

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Labour to scrap developer ‘get-out’ clause

Permitted development rights introduced since 2013 allow developers to bypass the normal planning process by converting commercial spaces into housing without the consent of the council and local community.

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Hackitt ‘concerned’ Grenfell recommendations will fall away

Author of the Independent Review of Building Regulations and Fire Safety post-Grenfell, has warned not to let Grenfell slip off the agenda.

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Optivo to cut private sale homes from development plan

Optivo plans to cut up to 700 market sale homes from its development plans as part of measures to de-risk its exposure to the volatile UK housing market.

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HQN Podcasts: Raising the standard – taking decent homes to the next level

HQN’s Asset Management Network lead Mike Victory-Rowe speaks with Sandy Livingstone of Onward Homes and Leslie Rudd of the Sustainable Energy Association, and asks: Is the housing sector in a good position to raise the standard of its homes?