HBOS decision over Crest set for Friday plus, housebuilders could face council tax rises for home improvements

Crest Nicholson battle goes to the wire

The HBOS-led consortium that made a £660m takeover approach to housebuilder Crest Nicholson is believed to be unwilling to overpay and may walk away from the deal this week, The Sunday Telegraph reports. A put-up or shut-up deadline imposed by the takeover panel in December expires on Friday.

The Sunday Times, however, reported that HBOS and Scottish entrepreneur Sir Tom Hunter was this week expected to table a revised £680m bid for housebuilder Crest Nicholson. The Crest board rejected an initial £660m offer from the consortium in November, valuing the company at 585p a share. The consortium has a deadline of 5pm on Friday to either make a bid or walk away. It is thought to be working on a bid valued at more than 600p a share.

Piped sunlight to banish the blues

engineers and architects at the Chalmers University of Technology in Gothenburg, Sweden, have developed a way of piping sunlight indoors, the Sunday Telegraph reports. By using roof panels to capture and concentrate daylight, natural sunlight can be transported through optical fibres to any part of a building.

DIY to push up council tax in yearly valuations

Householders face rises in council tax bills every time they improve their homes under plans by ministers to revalue all properties every year, the Sunday Telegraph reports. The rules are currently being introduced in Northern Ireland, with official documents indicating that a similar system is planned for England.

MoD spends £2.3bn on Whitehall offices

The Sunday Times said that official figures show that the Ministry of Defence’s new Whitehall headquarters will cost the taxpayer £2.3bn to refurbish and run. The Tories have called for an investigation by the National Audit Office, the government spending watchdog. The opposition party said that it was concerned that the PFI scheme was not value for money.

House prices decline in December

The Financial Times and Saturday’s Daily Telegraph report on the unexpected fall in house prices in December as recorded by the Halifax. The average house price dropped by 1% in the final month of the year but both newspapers write that this was a blip on the annual trend which saw houses make near double-digit gains.

The December drop prompts the newspapers to speculate whether this could be the end of the housing boom but most commentators said it was too early to tell whether the market has lost its strength.

Single mother beats the developers

A single mother has won a landmark case against developers that will give residents who oppose major developments more power, The Observer reports. Previously, residents could not demand an environmental impact assessment after outline permission had been granted. The mother spent seven years fighting to block construction of a cinema complex outside her house in south London, the paper reports. But the Law Lords’ decision means that residents now have the power to demand impact assessments at every stage of the planning process.

Hot tips for UK homes

Housing minister Yvette Cooper will tell the housebuilding industry to construct homes similar to those built around the Mediterranean, The Observer reports this week. The aim is to ensure all new houses are designed to stay cool in the face of climate change, the paper said.

Apartment block ruled too high to be bulldozed

And finally… a £2m housing development in Wigan is to be bulldozed after developers built it 1.57m higher than permitted, The Guardian reports on Saturday. Wainhomes has until the end of February to tear down the 14 apartments after its appeal was rejected by a government planning inspector.