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Budget 2015: the industry reaction

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The industry has reacted to George Osborne’s Budget announcement

Andrew Waugh, Waugh Thistleton Architects
‘It is completely crazy to be reducing fuel duty as oil prices go down… So much for the greenest government! And tax breaks for oil companies? Really?! 

‘Great that funds are earmarked for housing - but what will this mean? Based on the appalling record over the last five years for investing in housing here’s hoping the finding will be significant… and what about VAT on renovation work?!  

‘I see that a couple of cities are being rewarded with their own business rates…. How are those choices made? Surely there is an opportunity to shore up the regeneration of inner cities throughout the country and in London especially with the bonus of business rates. It might even help encourage local planning authorities to promote commercial development.

‘However there is little in the pre-election budget to stop the boom and bust cycle that we seem locked into. The effect on construction is very telling at the moment where we have massive materials and skills shortages in contrast to the unemployment and bankruptcies of only a few years ago.’

Jeff Nottage, director of masterplanning at Broadway Malyan
‘Consultation on the reform of the compulsory purchase process is welcome as it can be notoriously long-winded and increases the challenges involved in unlocking brownfield sites, which are increasingly complex to develop in large cities and particularly in London.’

Martyn Evans, of developer Cathedral
‘I welcome all the initiatives in the Chancellor’s budget that are designed to increase the flow of housing. However, we have to remember that housing is only successful if enough care is taken to shape the places in which it is built

‘We are not building housing, we are building the communities of the future. The focus needs to be as much on creating mixed-use communities and quality placemaking as on housing numbers.’

John Alker, director of policy and communications of UK-GBC
‘The Chancellor is clearly running down the clock on this Parliament and its efforts to improve the energy efficiency of our buildings. 

‘While his backing of the Swansea Bay tidal lagoon project shows that this Government’s commitment to the green agenda is not entirely dead in the water, this is an otherwise barren Budget for energy efficiency – demand reduction remains the Cinderella of energy policy. 

This is a barren budget for energy efficiency

‘Osborne’s failure to extend the Landlords Energy Saving Allowance is particularly disappointing, and will leave a major funding gap for landlords wanting to improve their properties to meet the new regulations for 2018.’

Nick Johnson, former director of Urban Splash
‘Cearly there are a few totems in this pre-election budget. The untaxed access to pension annuities a grab for the pensioner vote and the Northern Powerhouse a calculated show to other Northern authorities what they might achieve if they behaved like good Tories. 

‘Keeping the proceeds of growth in the rates base might look good on paper but the devil is in the detail and exactly how that impacts local governments behaviour around business rates will be the critical factor. It does now run the risk of merely prioritising revenue growth through this tax as the benefit any upside from that will be very tangible and direct to AGMA.’

Luke Burroughs from the Campaign to Protect Rural England
‘The regeneration of brownfield land can make a huge contribution to tackling the housing crisis. We therefore welcome the intention for clearer guidance and a consultation on compulsory purchase orders (CPOs), as CPOs can overcome regular obstacles such as fragmented land ownership. To bring about the high quality development that people need, however, steps do need to be taken to ensure that CPOs consider the interests of all involved groups.

‘We also welcome the announcement that surplus public sector and brownfield land will be mapped to identify whether it is appropriate for development. Alongside strategic sites, small-scale, infill sites can make an important contribution to increasing housing supply.’

James Thompson, head of business rates at Deloitte Real Estate
‘The 10 authorities making up the Greater Manchester Combined Authority have a total Rateable Value of almost £2.75 billion which would generate around £1.35 billion – around 50 per cent more than Wales.

‘The Government has already announced complete devolution of business rates to Wales from April 2015. Wales has had limited control over the rate and transition and reliefs since devolution and as a result they have a simpler system and some would say a much better one. The total Rateable Value in Wales excluding the Central Rating List is just over £1.85 billion bringing in about £0.9 billion annually.

‘The benefits to Greater Manchester of control of this funding stream will depend on the success of Greater Manchester’s economy.’

Marnix Elsenaar, partner, head of planning at Addleshaw Goddard
‘One of the crucial problems in Government policy is it remains wholly disjointed. There is no single economic plan uniting housing, health, infrastructure and education, despite the obvious need to understand where housing will go and what health and education resources will be spent near it.

We need a cohesive plan

‘Transport has the potential to unlock great areas of regeneration – as we’ve seen across London, but we need a cohesive plan that creates jobs and drives up productivity.

‘HS3 is all well and good, but will have little impact on the wider picture unless considered with other infrastructure projects going ahead across the country.’

John Inge, bishop of Worcester and lead bishop for cathedrals and church buildings
‘We are enormously grateful to the Chancellor for the generous promise of more funding following the heavily oversubscribed Listed Places of Worship Roof Repair Fund and First World War Centenary Cathedral Repair Fund. The nation’s churches and cathedrals are irreplaceable historic buildings which are important both to worshippers and the wider communities. This new funding will mean that many more parishes will be able to complete essential repairs to their churches to continue to serve their communities well into the future.’

Liam Bailey, global head of research at Knight Frank
‘Almost 83,000 households have already purchased a home through the Help to Buy scheme and there is no doubt it has had a positive, if modest, impact on transaction volumes over the last two to three years. The new Help to Buy ISA is likely to be another support for first time buyers. However we do not expect the impact to lead to a substantial number of new transactions, and is very unlikely to influence pricing in the market.’

Mark Naysmith, managing director of property, transportation and infrastructure, WSP | Parsons Brinckerhoff UK
‘Any measures to support house building and infrastructure are of course welcome, and whilst today’s Budget announcement mentions important new regional initiatives, most notably in the South West and the North, these must be seen only as a starting point for further investment. The real issue this country faces is delivery, specifically the capacity of the construction industry and its supply chain to deliver on projects. Unless we attract increasing numbers of the best and the brightest people to the construction industry and built environment then supply will always struggle to match demand.

‘We need cross-party support not only for more housing and infrastructure but also for developing the UK workforce with the skills to build these projects. The increased focus on apprenticeships today is welcome, and business, as well as politicians, needs to continue to find creative ways to build on this momentum whatever the outcome of the election.’



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