Something Old, Something New, Something Borrowed, Something Blue
In his Autumn Statement, the Chancellor unveiled a package of measures, some old, some new, and some borrowed, setting out how he plans to balance the books by 2019/20. Detailed below is a brief outline of some of the key measures that will impact the property and infrastructure markets.
One of the key commitments announced in the Autumn Statement was the provision of £2.4bn to support the development of up to 400,000 new homes. The key to solving the housing shortage rests in the challenge of unlocking the land, included in the Chancellors statement was the release of public sector land with a capacity of 160,000 homes. In addition to proposals to release previously developed land in the greenbelt to support starter homes (subject to local consultation), which would follow the same route as regenerating non greenbelt brownfield sites. One of the benefits of targeting brownfield land is that land for housing needs to have good transportation links and the social infrastructure such as hospitals, schools and shops. More often than not, brownfield sites tend to have one or more of these in place, but de-risking them has been prohibitively expensive.
Other measures to accelerate the housing supply, was the investment of £310m to deliver the first new garden city for almost 100 years at Ebbsfleet, which is part of a wider £700m programme to regenerate other areas including Barking Riverside and Brent Cross, which are two schemes Waterman’s Infrastructure & Environment team have been actively advising on for some time.
On the highways side, there was not that much more to add other than restating the Governments commitment to £15bn of investment in roads over the period to 2019 and providing a further £250m over the next five years to tackle potholes.
The new Transport Development Fund provides £300m over the next 5 years to push forward the next generation of infrastructure projects, which could include Crossrail 2 and proposals that will be brought forward in 2016 from the Northern Transport Strategy
Whilst the Government has drawn a line under Carbon Capture for the time being, Nuclear and Shale gas continued to receive attention in the Spending Review and Autumn Statement with £250m to be invested in research & development, upskilling the UK’s nuclear expertise and focusing on best value small modular reactor designs, with a view to building one of the world’s first small modular reactors in the next decade.
The Government also protected flood defence maintenance, and continues to provide £2.3bn investing in over 1,500 flood mitigation schemes. Flood risk will continue to present a real challenge moving forward and Waterman’s specialist flood risk team continues to see unprecedented demand for its services in strategically advising developers and local authorities to mitigate these risks. With DEFRA and the Environment Agency tasked to work together to generate 10% of efficiencies by 2019/20, the need for this specialist support is only going to increase.