Housing packs and planning policy face public and government scrutiny

HIPs horror story

The Saturday Telegraph provided a guide for concerned home owners and potential buyers about how to deal with the new Home Information Packs (HIPs) if they come into force as planned in 12 days time. The guide advises on how to get hold of a pack, how to avoid one, what is included in each HIP and why there has been so much controversy surrounding their implementation.

Revealed: land clauses that could lose NHS millions on private finance deals. The paper also said that developers will be handed swathes of land worth hundreds of million of pounds if the NHS fails to maintain a string of controversial PFI deals.

Property plans could give Crossrail a ticked to ride

The Sunday Times also reported that the funding being provided for the Crossrail scheme could be about to get a boost. Currently Crossrail will have to buy around £1bn worth of property from the private sector to develop underground stations across London. But new proposals could see the property groups develop the sites in partnership with Crossrail, saving huge sums of money.

Home packs will cost ‘four times official estimates’

The Sunday Telegraph said that the real cost of HIPs will be massively more than has been estimated by the government and may cost the country £4.7bn by 2020. The Financial Times said that Housing packs were expected to ‘lead chaos.' The paper said that trading standards officers claim they have insufficient cash and manpower to police the introduction of Home Information Packs (HIPs) on June 1. Meanwhile the Guardian reported on Saturday that the government is set to face turmoil over the introduction of home information packs, amid speculation that Tory and Lib Dem peers will vote for the HIPS to be scrapped.

Private equity elite to face grilling by select committee

Five of Europe’s top buy-out executives have been summoned to appear before the Commons Treasury select committee into private equity, the weekend FT reports. Those appearing include Philip Yea, the chief executive of 3i, which has just bought a stake in Foster and Partners.

Planning pledge to secure green belts

The weekend FT reports that today’s white paper on planning will contain a pledge to preserve green belts from “urban sprawl.” The Observer also thought the Planning White Paper will reshape Britain, it said Communities secretary Ruth Kelly would announce plans to fast track building key infrastructure projects such as nuclear power stations, gas storage facilities, wind farms and airport facilities. The paper said she would also outline policies for local authorities and businesses to reduce CO2 and adapt to intense weather conditions. The FT also reported that homeowners will be able to build kitchen extensions, loft conversions and conservatories without planning permission under new plans announced by Ruth Kelly to speed up housing developments.

Badly built homes “threaten green plans”

The Sustainable Development Commission’s first “watchdog” report on Government states that millions of poorly designed homes threaten to leave a legacy of environmental damager, The Observer reported on Sunday. The report states that the rush to build 200,000 homes per year is leading to too little consultation, poor design standards and too few transport links, parks and community centres.

Shared equity move for private housing lenders

Gordon Brown is to launch a scheme to encourage private sector investment in affordable housing, the FT reports. The scheme will see the government spend about £150m to subsidise shared equity mortgages, which it hopes will be matched by private sector contributions.

Eco-towns are a sign of political environment

The FT’s news analysis remarks that “greener than thou” one-upmanship – most recently demonstrated by Gordon Brown’s pledge to create five eco-towns - has become a key component of the political culture.

Property firm under attack by Tchenguiz

The Sunday Times reported that entrepreneur Vincent Tchenguiz has made an approach for the property services company Erinaceous. It has already received approaches from private equity firms 3i and Bridgepoint who are apparently interested in backing a management buyout. The Times said Erinaceous could find itself at the centre of a £350m takeover battle.

Church of England plans to open 100 new academy schools

The Church of England is expected to open 100 academy schools as part of Tony Blair’s attempt to cement education reforms before he leaves office, The Guardian reported on Saturday. Church officials will take direct control of a multimillion pound expansion programme over the next five years, the paper said.

Brown’s vision for a nuclear Britain

Gordon Brown is set to give the go-ahead for a new generation of nuclear power stations, The Observer reported on Sunday. The Prime minister elect will give the green light to the plans, showing he is backing Tony Balir’s support of the nuclear industry. Meanwhile, Trade and Industry Secretary Alistair Darling told The Observer that a future energy strategy has to be sorted out by the end of the year or else the country will be facing black outs by 2017. Darling comes out in favour of nuclear power in the article, saying: “..even if you get as much wind farm and renewable energy as you can, which we must do, you are still going to have a gap.”