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In the papers today: 01.02.08

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Hello February, goodbye to the January doldrums, when house prices fell for the third month in a row writes the Guardian. The average house price dipped by 0.1 per cent, according to Nationwide’s end-January figures.

But this has not slowed the Surrey-born, Monaco-based Candy brothers. The property duo behind Richard Rogers’ One Hyde Park sealed what the Independent refers to as 'the UK’s most expensive property deal' with the £959 million purchase of the 5ha Chelsea Barracks in a joint venture with the Qatar government. Apparently the proposed 650 luxury units on the site will also include affordable housing.

Meanwhile, the Financial Times reports new delinquency patterns in the American credit market, where a recent trend finds homeowners defaulting on mortgage payments before cars and credit cards. Anyone for camping in a Land Rover?

More bleak end-January news: the FT writes that Arts Council England has reduced its grants to Arts & Business – a consultancy that assists arts organisations in finding private-sector sponsorship – from £6 million to £4 million for each of the next three years.

On a more positive note, the FT reports that a recent 10 Downing Street review of the academies programme has given the schools a thumbs up, and schools minister Lord Adonis confirmed that 50 academies will open this year with an additional 50 in the pipeline.

Countering Prince Charles' latest ‘carbuncle’ speech yesterday, the Guardian reveals RIBA president Sunand Prasad's comments that the impact of this speech is likely to be ‘less seismic’ than the Prince’s 1984 comments about the extension to the National Gallery because the 'general public has become far more design-savvy'. It’s always good to look on the bright side.

The Guardian also reports on recently released DEFRA figures, which show that Britain’s greenhouse gas emissions dropped 0.5 per cent last year – on target to meet the Kyoto targets by 2012, but still not enough to meet the government’s 2052 60 per cent reduction. The figures show that the largest increases in emissions came from energy providers (+1.5 per cent) and road transport (+1.3 per cent), while residential use fell by 4 per cent, largely due to the mild winter and business use by 1.6 per cent. During the same period, emissions from landfill dropped by 61 per cent, the Guardian reports, largely due to improved recycling. Keep recycling those bottles...

Finally, for the real activists out there, there’s still time before the 8 February deadline to join Amy Winehouse and Kate Moss in a campaign, reported in the Evening Standard, to stop a development adjacent to Stepney pub and music venue the George. The celeb haunt runs a lucrative sideline in photo and film shoots because its isolated position means it has access to 360° light, which would be compromised by the proposed five-storey block of flats on an adjacent site.

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