Monday, 29 August 2016

Brighton's West Pier damaged by Storm Imogen

The recent impact of high winds from Storm Imogen hitting the south coast on Monday has led to the collapse of part of Brighton's Grade I listed West Pier.
The pier, designed by Eugenius Birch and originally opened in 1866 as a simple promenade, had by the early twentieth century been developed extensively with the addition of a theatre and concert hall. In its heyday in the 1920's it was a thriving centre of entertainment by the seaside.
Unfortunately after World War II the pier became less popular and began to fall into disrepair. By 1975 it was deemed unsafe and was closed to the public.
The pier was due to be restored to its former glory via a Lottery grant in 2003, but was tragically burnt in two arson attacks, reducing the structure to its metal framework.
Despite all this, the derelict structure of the landmark pier remained largely intact until February 2014 when a significant part collapsed, separating the former pavilion into two.
The high winds of Storm Imogen this week resulted in another small section collapsing, and The West Pier Trust have reported that more collapses could follow.
The metal framework remains an impressive sight from the Brighton beach, and is still the most photographed building in the city.

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Monday, 22 August 2016

Ministers told to tackle cold, older homes

Improving the 'key infrastructure' of older UK homes, to make them more energy efficient, has been highlighted to ministers as a priority along with their existing multi-billion pound plans to improve roads, railways, flood defences and energy.
Opposition parties and various institutions reminded the government of the importance of home energy efficiency, via the installation of sufficient insulation, to help the UK to meet targets to end fuel poverty and to cut carbon emissions.
The plan of making home energy efficiency an infrastructure priority was proposed by the think-tank Policy Exchange (PX). The plan has been supported by many groups including the Labour party, Lib Dems, SNP, Plaid Cymru, the CBI, TUC, the union GMB, the all-party parliamentary group Green Alliance, the World Energy Council, the Institution of Civil Engineering and leading energy academics.
The government have not commented, but its advisory body the National Infrastructure Commission said it would consider whether to go further with the idea.
Richard Howard of PX commented: "Bringing people's homes up to standard is incredibly good value for money. We don't typically think of housing as infrastructure like we think of roads and railways - but we've got to change the way we approach this: housing is critical infrastructure."
The CBI's Rhian Kelly, speaking to BBC News, said: "Energy efficiency in homes and businesses is often at the back of the queue, so it's right that we see a sharper focus on making buildings more insulated, leading to significant savings for households and firms and important environmental benefits."

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Monday, 15 August 2016

MoD planning to sell land for house building

The Ministry of Defence (MoD) is planning to sell off the land from 12 of its sites around the UK for housing development, and to raise around £500m for defence budgets.
The land from the sites is expected to be suitable for the building of 15,000 new homes.
Defence Minister Mark Lancaster commented that funds from the sale of the land will be put back into defence budgets, and the land will be used to help reach the government target of building 160,000 homes by 2020.
The 12 sites will be the first to be sold by the MoD, with further sites to be put up for sale in due course. Plans are in place to raise £1bn altogether via the sale of land, which should allow around 55,000 homes to contribute to the government's 2020 target.
The initial 12 sites will include Kneller Hall in Twickenham, Claro and Deverell barracks in Ripon, Lodge Hill in Kent and RAF Barnham in Suffolk.
Details of future sites to be sold will be announced by the MoD later in the year.

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Monday, 8 August 2016

House prices boosted by rush in buy-to-let

The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) have reported that numbers of house purchases have been unseasonably high in recent months.
This is thought to be caused by large numbers of buy-to-let investors seeking to buy before the government’s proposed changes to stamp duty in April.
RICS said that from its monthly surveys of residential property agents, expectations of further price increases were nearly at a two-year high, with 50% more surveyors seeing price rises than falls.
Prices are rising due to a shortage of supply compared to demand, especially in cities, with homes in Cambridge, London and Bristol showing the highest annual growth in average prices.
In December 2015, 43% more RICS surveyors said they expected further price increases in the next three months compared to those that predicted falls.
Simon Rubinsohn, chief economist for RICS, commented: "Potential buy-to-let investors are looking to pick up properties before the increased stamp duty levy comes into force in April. If that is the case, we can expect to see the housing market heating up further over the next few months."

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