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News in brief: Six commissioners appointed to Scottish Land Commission; European funding approved for Colwyn Bay

Words: Laura Edgar

A round-up of planning news: Tuesday 15 November, 2016

Government to ‘future-proof’ economy over Brexit

Chancellor Phillip Hammond is planning to invest billions on building ready-to-go projects in an attempt to stimulate local areas ahead of Brexit.

He said he will back dozens of small-scale infrastructure projects across the UK, including road and rail projects, that are ready to get off the ground, according to Sky News.

The news outlet reports that Hammond has earmarked several billions of pounds for various schemes and could spend up to £15 billion on infrastructure overall, as he looks to boost economic growth.

While Hammond supports large projects such as HS2, the focus in the Autumn Statement is expected to be on projects that are ready to go and can stimulate local areas as Britain prepares to leave the European Union.

Read the full Sky News article here.


Six commissioners appointed to Scottish Land Commission

Five Land Commissioners and the Tenant Farming Commissioner have been selected for the first Scottish Land Commission.

The appointments, which are subject to Parliamentary approval, are:

• Land Commissioners: Andrew Thin (chair and currently the government’s independent adviser on tenant farming), Professor David Adams (senior academic with experience in planning, development, land reform and urban issues), Megan MacInnes (land adviser to Global Witness, an NGO), Lorne MacLeod (currently chair of Community Land Scotland) and Dr Sally Reynolds (coordinates the Lewis and Harris Greylag Goose Management Scheme on behalf of SNH).

• Tenant Farming Commissioner: Dr Bob McIntosh (a retired civil servant with experience in public policy, in particular in land management and forestry).


European funding approved for Colwyn Bay

Welsh First Minister Carwyn Jones has said Colwyn Bay will be transformed into a must-visit destination, thanks to new funding for the Colwyn Bay Waterfront Project.

The project will enable the transformation of almost one kilometre of existing promenade by summer 2017.

The aim is to encourage Colwyn Bay to become a tourism and watersports destination for the North Wales coast, as it once was.

The first phase was completed in 2014. It included the Porth Eirias Watersports Centre and a new family beach.

The next phase will create better access to the beach, improve parking provision and incorporate new landscaping and a marked exercise trail.


Welsh Government commits to 100% renewable energy for public services

All electricity bought for public services in Wales by the National Procurement Service (NPS) will be from renewable sources by 2017, Welsh environment secretary Lesley Griffiths has announced.

The announcement came ahead of her attendance at the global COP22 climate talks in Marrakesh.

From April 2017, it is expected that all NPS energy customers will receive 100 per cent renewable energy. At least 50 per cent will come from Welsh sources, with a goal to increase this to 100 per cent.

Speaking ahead of her departure to Marrakesh, Griffiths said: “Although Wales is a small country it still has a global responsibility to reduce carbon emissions and tackle climate change. We recognise this responsibility and continue to strengthen our commitments, setting legally binding targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by a minimum of 80 per cent by 2050 in our Environment Act.

“I’m proud that in Wales we are securing in law actions to achieve the Wales we want. I look forward to the opportunities COP22 presents to highlight Wales’s achievements and learn from others. Wales stands ready to play its part in the Paris Agreement.”

COP22 concludes on 18 November.


FMB calls for councils to be allowed to borrow to build

Allowing local authorities to borrow to build homes could both help tackle the housing crisis and mitigate any emerging economic uncertainty, said the Federation of Master Builders (FMB).

The call has come ahead of the Autumn Statement next week (23 November). Brian Berry, chief executive at the FMB, said: “We simply aren’t building enough new homes to meet current demand, which is why we’re calling for the chancellor to empower local authorities to borrow money to build thousands of new social homes.”

Berry said the government “clearly recognises” the extent of the housing crisis and has signalled its willingness to bring forward a wide-ranging package of measures to tackle this, many of which he expects to see in the forthcoming housing white paper.

"Nevertheless, the gap between the number of homes we are building and the 250,000-a-year figure widely accepted to be necessary in order to address the housing shortfall remains significant. Local authorities, who are well placed to identify local housing needs, can play a critical role in financing an increase in housing output in a safe and sensible way. We currently spend £1 on house building for roughly every £4 spent on housing benefit. Investing in a longer-term solution would therefore make sense even in more certain economic conditions.”

Berry concluded that at a time of political and economic uncertainty, a “sensible programme of investment” like this could both significantly boost housing output and provide a welcome shot in the arm to a sector that is still jittery over its prospects for the next few years.”

Image credit | iStock