Monday, 26 September 2016

Over 400 skyscrapers planned for London

The London skyline is due to change dramatically in the coming years, as there are currently 436 towers in planning, approved, under construction or completed in London, based on research by New London Architecture.
A tower is defined as any building with more than 20 floors.
Within the past year 119 towers have entered planning. However only 16 have been completed so far, indicating that it will be some time until all 400+ are constructed.
London council's enthusiasm for towers is displayed by the fact that only three have been refused planning permission.
The average height of the new towers is 30 storeys, though there are eight buildings planned which will be 60 storeys or higher.
Tower Hamlets, including Canary Wharf and the Isle of Dogs, has 93 towers planned - the most of any London borough at present. A new skyscraper planned for this location called City Pride will be London's tallest residential building when complete, with 75 floors.
73 percent of the planned towers are to be residential, in response to the strong demand for housing in the capital.

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Monday, 19 September 2016

Housing and Planning Bill could hit the elderly and disabled hardest

The government's proposed Housing and Planning bill is intended to force councils to sell high-value social housing which could significantly affect the elderly and disabled through the selling off of bungalows, a report by The Joseph Rowntree Foundation has warned.
Bungalows are generally most popular with the elderly and disabled people, and the plans could lead to over 15,000 council-owned bungalows being sold off by 2021, the report stated.
The government responded by saying that councils would be allowed to decide not to sell any property which meets "a particular need" or would be difficult to replace.
The bill will go before the House of Lords later.
The government say it will help more people to become home owners.
If the bill is passed, local councils will be compelled to sell expensive properties as they become vacant, helping to "ensure that the money locked up in high value vacant housing stock will be reinvested in building new homes".
What would count as a high value property is likely to vary in different regions, according to the bill.
The Joseph Rowntree Foundation called on the government to make bungalows and sheltered housing exempt from the initiative, as these are in high demand.

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Monday, 12 September 2016

Ofcom says BT must open network to rival broadband providers

Communications regulator Ofcom has told BT that it must open up its network of telegraph poles and underground cable ducts to rivals to allow for more competition between UK broadband providers, helping to improve the availability of good internet connections.
Ofcom mentioned the complete break-up of BT was an option, but has not demanded this at the current time.
BT welcomed the report, saying it was happy for other companies to use its network as long as they were willing to invest in it.
The Ofcom report also highlighted the 'digital divide' between UK homes with access to the latest broadband technology and those out of reach due to their location. The watchdog said that 'decent, affordable broadband should be a universal right'.
BT's rivals had previously called for the separation of BT and Openreach, the part of its operation which manages the infrastructure of its cable and fibre network. They claimed that BT had not invested enough in Openreach, resulting in a poor service with interruptions and slow speeds.
BT will now be required to allow rivals access to underground ducts and telegraph poles so that they can install their own fibre cables.
Ofcom has also stated that it intends to introduce tougher rules relating to BT's faults, repairs and installations, and advised that Openreach should be allowed greater independence from BT to make its own decisions on budget and strategy.
Speaking to the BBC, Chief Executive of Ofcom, Sharon White, said: "Openreach does need major reform and the key thing is that it's independent so that it responds to all its customers, not just BT."

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Monday, 5 September 2016

'Hairy Panic' for Australian city

The rural Australian city of Wangaratta, Victoria, has recently been suffering from an outbreak of 'hairy panic' - the common name given to the tumbleweed Panicum effusum - a grass native to inland Australia.
Recent dry conditions have caused the tumbleweed to appear in unusually huge quantities, threatening to overwhelm the homes of local residents and returning even after it has been cleared away.
The tumbleweed can pile up to several metres high outside homes, making it difficult to deal with.
The source of the hairy panic is thought to be an area or former farmland which is now unused and unmanaged.
The spectacle was captured by a local television station, which brought people from other parts of Australia to see the outbreak for themselves.
There are a number of other similar types of grass, but Panicum effusum is particularly troublesome because it grows quickly and can form tumbleweeds, which are normally intended for the purpose of seed dispersal, helping to propagate the plant.
The local council of Wangaratta has said that it is considering using large vacuums attached to street sweepers to combat the problem.

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