China’s ‘white elephants’ litter the landscape

Property Surveying

Much has been made of the failed construction projects in Ireland and Spain that lie dormant for lack of funding of consumer interest, but the scale of those failures is nothing compared to the huge undertakings that have been left mothballed in China.

Whole theme parks, shopping centres, cities and even a town made to look like old England (cobbled streets and Tudor housing included, in the style of Ashford or Canterbury) are more reminiscent of the tumbleweed occupied ghost towns of the wild west than the thriving  hubs they were designed to be.

Read about the many projects that growth orientated China has consigned to the history books here.

Planning Changes to Navigate the Burden of 106 Arrangements

London Surveyors

Fears are mounting that the planning system will struggle to deliver affordable housing as the government this week proposed allowing developers to tear up planning agreements.

On Monday, the government published plans to make it easier for section 106 deals to be renegotiated to help restart stalled sites, and acknowledged that contributions to affordable housing would be the first casualty.

The Communities and Local Government department maintained that it would deliver more affordable homes in the long term and many market commentators are applauding the moves. Quite simply, any housing is better than no housing and affordable housing has to take a back seat for now in the interest of the wider economy. Of course, a simple economic argument would be that more houses would bring down prices across the board regardless, but opinion is split on the subject.

Read more on the subject here

Race starting for Portsmouth Student Tower Tender

Portsmouth Surveyors – A £30m plan for a student accomodation tower in the City of Portsmouth, previously put on hold, has now been restarted pending the university’s ability to find a new partner. Original developers Watkin Jones pulled out of the 300ft development, dubbed ‘The Blade’, over planning issues.

Read more here.

Big Contractor Bosses Unite to get Britain Building

Twenty Three of the Country’s biggest contractors, including Kier Group (based near Stevenage) and Wilmott Dixon (based near Welwyn Garden City), have put their names to a new campaign: “Creating Britain’s Future”. They want the Government to speed up the decision making process and find new ways to help finance construction projects.

The initiative has kicked off with a letter published in the Daily Telegraph setting out the industry’s ability to stimulate growth, and the official launch today at London’s Centre Point tower to an audience including representatives from the CBI.

Villagers share ‘good will’ payout of £1m

Manchester Surveyors – 600 villagers in Knutsford, Cheshire have received £1500 each, alongside further compensation for six local schools, following claims that noise and fumes from Manchester’s second runway had wiped thousands off the value of their homes.

After the runway’s construction in 2001, airport management had to pay out £9m in compensation, but refused to pay those that had not submitted claims before the 2010 legal deadline. Regardless, following a campaign by the residents backed by local MP and Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne, a goodwill figure of £1m was agreed despite the lateness of application.

Planning Inspector Suspends Wigan Council Plans

Wigan Surveyors – In a letter to Wigan Council, inspector Kevin Ward has suspended the planning document for six months in order for the council to carry out additional work and public consultation on further housing sites. His concerns are that the plan does not deliver enough land for housing.

The inspector indicated that the council should plan for at least 16,500 homes over a 15 year period, but that the current plan for Wigan contained a shortfall of 2,500 which needed to be rectified.

Brighton & Hove takes on One Planet Living Framework

Brighton Surveyors – To curb the localities ‘voracious’ appetite for resources which many believe is unsustainable for both the community and the planet at large, Brighton and Hove have taken on the One Planet Living Framework with ten guiding principles to creating a pleasant, sustainable and ‘green’ environment.

The result has been a new community f 172 flats within Brighton, next to the railway station, which were completed in 2010. They have been constructed in local, high performance materials and the energy is generated via a biomass boiler, solar panels and a contract to fill the remaining requirement with guaranteeed green energy from the One Brighton Energy Services Company.

Sheffield Project to include Football Pitch on Roof!

Sheffield Surveyors – The construction company ‘Wates’ has won a prestigious project in the City of Sheffield, to build a new £8.5m college University Technical College on the Porter Brook Site, Shoreham Street.

Their plans for the site impressed, describing a three storey structure topped with a five-a-side football pitch to save space. Construction should start in September and take a year to complete.

Birmingham Moves Forward on Affordable Homes

Birmingham SurveyorsBirmingham Council has become the third local authority, and the first outside of London, to sign on to the Communities and Local Government’s £1.8bn affordable housing scheme.

The council will receive £6.7m in funding to help them deliver 305 affordable homes for rent. That equates to a substantial subsidy of almost £22,000 per home. In total, the plan hopes to create 80,000 new homes by 2015.

£25m York Housing Job Needs Builder

York Surveyors – The Joseph Rowntree Housing Trust is looking for a developer to build up to 130 homes in Derwenthorpe,York. The development will consist of private and affordable housing which will be purchased and managed by the trust, and a requirement will be in place for the additional construction of major infrastructure works.