Plus Gordon Brown's 57 eco-towns and a fall in demand for commercial property

Blaze warehouse owners failed to install safety doors

The owners of a vegetable packing plant where four firemen died could face manslaughter charges after failing to install appropriate fire doors, says The Sunday Times. Employees at Wealmoor Atherstone should not have been in the part of the plant hit by the fire as it had not been cleared by building inspectors according to the paper.

Take one RAF base, add a line of wind turbines et voila, an eco-town

The Sunday Times followed up on Building’s story on eco-towns (Pimp my site, issue 46) and outlined Gordon Brown’s proposals for 57 new eco-towns which have now been lodged with the government. Some of the designs have been praised as imaginative, while others have been criticized for “bolting on” green features to previously rejected proposals.

Commercial property braced for further falls as credit dries up

Turmoil in the financial markets has caused a four-year low in the demand for commercial property according to the RICS, The Times reports. The findings wiped hundreds of millions of pounds off the share prices of Britain’s £25bn real estate investment trust (Reit), the paper said.

Property prices slip in the suburbs

The Nationwide Building Society has forecast that house price inflation will fall to zero by the end of next year, The Times reports. The paper said owners of homes worth less than £350,000 would be hardest hit in the slowdown.

Lenders may not pass on rate cuts

Homeowners will miss out on the full benefit of interest rate cuts next year because mortgage lenders try to protect their profit margin, says The Times. Lenders have indicated they may refuse to cut their standard variable rates even if The Bank of England cuts rates twice by next summer as planned.

Vangelis fights Greek gods of demolition

The Greek government has been accused of “architectural terrorism” over plans to demolish two buildings that spoil the view of the Acropolis from a new museum at the foot of the Parthenon, says The Sunday Times. Composer Vangelis Papathanassiou, who owns one of the buildings, is the latest figure to get involved in the bitter row.

LandSecs starts quiet revolution

The break up of Land Securities, Britain’s biggest real-estate company, will cause a wholesale rethink of the role of large companies in the sector, says The Sunday Times. Analysts at KBC Peel Hunt said the announcement would put pressure on FTSE 100 rivals British Land, Hammerson and Segro to follow suit.

Cancelled home sales hit estate agent chain

The FT reports that Countrywide estate agents are closing down branches after the company has been hit by the gloomy outlook for the housing market. Chairman Harry Hill told the FT that completed sales on the first half of November were running at about half the rate seen in the summer.

House prices set for stagnation, says Nationwide

Nationwide announced that house prices will stagnate next year, the FT reports. The bank predicts the current annual rate of about 10% to fall to zero next year, as demand for property cooled rapidly.

China plans road expansion

The FT reports that China needs to build 1m kilometres of new roads by 2020 to meet road use demands, which are likely to double until then. An official said that the network needed to prepare for an estimated 36.5bn passenger trips made on Chinese roads by the end of the next decade.

Brown’s drive to use UK’s wave and wind power

The Prime Minister is set to reject a Whitehall attempt to abandon Britain’s commitment to supply 20% of its energy from renewables by 2020, according to the Guardian on Saturday. Brown is expected to announce a range of measures this week including a commitment to the Severn Barrage and an offshore Thames Estuary wind farm.

Ministers push ahead with third runway plan

A public consultation on a third runway and sixth terminal at Heathrow is set to go ahead, according to the Observer. The government is also expected to launch a report saying the project could be built without exceeding noise and pollutions limits.

Barratt homes will reveal lower sales figures

The Observer anticipates today’s announcement that Barratt Developments has sold fewer homes than expected over the last quarter. However, sources close to Barratt told the paper the situation was not so bad that it would have to put out a profit warning.

Brown’s skills pledge is spin, claim Tories

Gordon Brown’s latest initiative to create “British jobs for British workers” was denounced as spin yesterday after it emerged that hundreds of thousands of new training places will be open to foreign nationals, reports the Daily Telegraph on Saturday. The Conservatives also claimed three quarters of the posts pledged on Friday had already been announced.

Housing market ‘to stall in 2008’

House price growth is expected to stall next year as a slower economy, stretched by affordability and tighter lending conditions all take their toll, reports the Daily Telegraph on Saturday. Building society Nationwide said annual house price inflation was likely to fall from its current level of 9.7 per cent to zero for 2008.

Warning over rate rise by ‘devious’ lenders

Nearly five million home owners are facing dramatic increases in their monthly mortgage bill next year, as “devious” lenders raise their rates despite the Bank of England signalling that it will cut interest rates, says the Daily Telegraph on Saturday.

House price growth will fall to zero in 2008, warns Nationwide

Annual inflation in property prices will fall from 9.7% to 0% by November next year the Nationwide has warned, The Independent reports. The building society has also predicted wide regional variations, with prices going up 4% in Scotland and dropping by 5% in Northern Ireland.

Brown: We will do more to cut emissions

Gordon Brown has announced he wants to introduce bigger long-term cuts in carbon emissions than previously planned, The Independent on Sunday reports. The prime minister’s comments come in response to an IPCC report showing the earth is warming at a quickening pace. He will set out ways in which he believes emissions can be cut in the next few days, the paper said.

New city of towers in Docks

A scheme to extend Canary Wharf with a large group of new towers was featured in the Evening Standard on Friday. The Richard Rogers proposal for Wood Wharf would be the highest density building project in London if given the go-ahead.

Welcome to Tescoland: the borough with 21 branches

Westminster Council has come under fire for giving the go-ahead to the 21st Tesco branch in the borough, the Evening Standard reports on Friday. The new store in Lisson Grove was opposed by the Marylebone Society, shopkeepers and 1,200 locals who signed a petition.